Improved Communication Between Patients and Providers

A news feature appearing this week in Boston Globe describes work undertaken by PAINWeek faculty member Robert Jamison, PhD, and his associates to develop and test a smartphone app to help patients and clinicians better manage chronic pain and help to control the costs associated with so doing. Jamison, professor of anesthesia and psychiatry at the Brigham and Harvard Medical School, noted of the effort, “We’re trying to figure out a way to give (patients) support and keep them out of the hospital and prevent unnecessary testing. We really believe this will improve their ability to manage their condition which unfortunately we just can’t fix.” About 70 patients have been testing the app, called PMC 320, which is available in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. They have been using it in combination with a Fitbit fitness tracker.

The Globe story describes the Brigham app, which was designed with substantial input from the center’s doctors, as part of a broader trend. Medical institutions are increasingly looking to streamline communication between patients and their doctor using the messaging features and data-tracking tools in smartphones. At least once a day, clinicians and patients who are now beta testing the app are prompted to answer questions about their pain levels, mood, activity levels, and other health metrics. The Fitbit transmits information about steps walked and other activity indicators to the app. There is also an in-built messaging feature that lets patients send questions to their providers on bad days. Patients then have the opportunity to talk through the event with their doctor using the app. The hope is that these conversation will help alleviate their symptoms and anxiety. The goal is to avoid office visits, which might trigger expensive and typically unnecessary tests.

To read more about the power of apps in pain management, click here.

To read about apps and opioid education, click here.

Read a news story about the PMC 320 app here.

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