Correction: A previous version of this text misstated the source of the funding.
There’s no hard and fast rule to measure pain. It can take a long time for a patient to describe his or her feelings to doctors. But a Toronto-based startup, ManagingLife, has created an app that lets patients with chronic pain track their symptoms. This week the company announced that the app, called Manage My Pain, has been deployed in four Ontario chronic pain sites.
“The goal is to address one of the biggest challenges people with chronic pain have, which is communicating with their doctor,” Tahir Janmohamed, CEO of ManagingLife, told MobiHealthNews. “A lot of the time people who suffer with chronic pain struggle to find the words to actually express what they are going through—it is really hard to describe pain. This helps facilitate that conversation. A lot of times people with chronic pain aren’t even believed that their pain is real.”
The technology will be deployed to the four centers for 24-months and is funded through the Government of Ontario Office of the Chief Health Innovation Strategist's Health Technologies Fund.
The app was first created in 2011, and at the time focused primarily on the users experience. But it has since expanded. Now there are three components to the platform. The first part is the original patient facing app which lets users record how they are feeling on a regular basis. The app summarizes these reports for patients so they can see trends.
The second part of the app aims to help facilitate the doctor and patient conversation. Physicians can print out the pain report and have it on hand when the patient comes for a visit.
"Without a tool like this, the 10 minutes the physician has with patient typically goes like this: Tell me how you feel, how has it been since I’ve seen you three months ago, has medication X worked,” Janmohamed said. “Now it can be a far more pointed conversation: I noticed that your pain remained steady, but you are reporting more knee pain. I see you are getting less sleep, … lets talk about that.”
Lastly, the doctors and clinics can remotely monitor patients with chronic pain through this app. Once a patient provides consent it will connect to a doctor portal.
“This concept has never existed in the world of pain,” Janmohamed said. “This is really important now especially in the context of the opioid crisis because more often opioids are being prescribed to help with chronic pain and doctors don’t have a lot of tools to identify if someone is at risk or maybe shouldn’t be on a certain medication or is taking too much. Now with the application, they can see how their patients are doing and identify who might be at risk and then engage them.”
Clinics and hospitals can look at multiple patients’ data and see trends and look at the best way to approach treatments.
"There is an urgent need for innovation so we can better measure and monitor chronic pain patients to identify their treatment needs and facilitate improved care while they are at home," Dr. Atul Prabhu, lead of the Comprehensive Integrated Pain Program at the University Health Network, said in a statement. "Manage My Pain is a great example of how technology can help close an important clinical gap."