As opioid abuse continues to make impact in the US, more and more tech-driven answers to the drug crisis are springing up that aim to reduce patients’ reliance on prescription opioids. Just yesterday, behavioral health therapy app maker 2Morrow threw its hat into the ring with the announcement that its services now include a digital chronic pain management program.
Much like the company’s other offerings — which target smoking, weight, and stress — the pain management program is based on acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), a clinically tested form of cognitive behavioral therapy that’s strongly endorsed by the Society of Clinical Psychology. Developed in collaboration with Dr. Kevin Vowles, a behavioral scientist at the University of New Mexico, 2Morrow’s program features a number of short lessons and exercises that teach users how to keep their life on track while living with chronic pain. The app-based program also allows users to message a live pain management coach if they have questions or need specific help with their condition.
“We really see this as being able to deliver the missing piece of behavioral therapy to people in the healthcare system,” Jo Masterson, cofounder and COO of 2Morrow, told MobiHealthNews. “Right now they are pretty divided — your doctor often is not using behavioral therapy and doesn’t think to refer people, but they do refer them to physical therapy, they refer to lab work, they refer them to diagnostics. [Doctors are] seldom giving them behavioral therapy because our medical profession just doesn’t think that way, and secondly, because people are a little more resistant to behavioral therapy, partly due to stigma, shame, or embarrassment.”
Addressing these latter points is 2Morrow’s strength, Masterson argued, as the convenience and privacy afforded by an app-based behavioral therapy can win over patients who might spurn other care delivery strategies.
“People already have [smartphones] with them. They’ll use it that way, and what we find — at least in the employer setting — we find that we get somewhere between three-to-five times higher engagement than they get in telephonic or in-person programs,” she said. “It won’t serve everybody’s needs, but I don’t know anything that does yet, but we can find a large group that we can access this way. It’s private, easy to use — and [privacy] is probably one of the main things our users really like, because they feel like they’re not being judged.”
Masterson’s company offers the 2Morrow Health platform’s various modules to employers, health plans, and other providers independently or in customizable packages, allowing patients to receive only the programs they need within a single main app. With the support of previous clinical studies (and a newly announced trial underway at the University of New Mexico), Masterson said that she firmly sees the pain management program and 2Morrow’s other offerings as therapeutics options for patients in need of behavioral therapy.
“Our ultimate goal is to really go down an FDA-approved route. We’re excited to see that they’re looking at digital therapeutics and trying to decide how to do that, and [understanding] that technology changes a lot faster than the traditional FDA system allows,” she said. “Right now, we do not fall under what they are regulating — we’re not trying to tell somebody what their blood sugar is and what dosage of insulin to take, right? We’re not diagnosing, we’re really offering that behavioral therapy piece as a support tool, and we’ll be doing that until we we have big enough datasets to run a big enough study to seek FDA approval.”