This proposal seeks to determine the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy of developing an online support and risk reduction platform to prevent opioid misuse and abuse. This is an urgent area of research; opioid misuse/abuse has reached epidemic proportions in recent years. It is linked to causing the largest drug epidemic in the history of the United States and has become the top priority of the US Surgeon General. Because the opioid crisis (including heroin use) is believed to have largely originated from chronic pain patients' opioid prescriptions, this application will initially focus on the needs of chronic pain patients on opioids who are high risk for addiction and overdose. Later versions of the technology will expand to the broader population of people affected by the opioid crisis, including heroin users. Although low cost, novel interventions are needed to reduce opioid misuse and abuse, before they lead to addiction and fatal overdose, only 6 behavioral (non-pharmacological) randomized controlled trials have been successfully conducted in this area to date (with our group having conducted one of them), creating a tremendous need for solutions to the opioid crisis. Building off extensive preliminary research that our team conducted, including piloting technology-based behavior change interventions among chronic pain patients, and developing artificial intelligence (AI)-based prediction models of opioid outcomes, we propose to design and test the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy of an online peer social support and clinical counseling community to reduce opioid misuse/abuse among chronic pain sufferers. This is a highly innovative product with scalable commercialization potential and impact as 1) no software platform exists that has been shown to reduce opioid misuse/abuse risk factors, 2) it is evidenced- based, supported by more than a decade of scientific research conducted by our team, and 3) is highly accessible, helping to address the time, cost, and stigma that are constant barriers to opioid prevention and treatment. Our team includes the former CFO of Epic Systems (and two-time successful entrepreneur), the Associate Chief Medical Information Officer for Cedars-Sinai, a patent attorney at a large Silicon Valley intellectual property firm specializing in digital health portfolios, as well as clinical, data science/statistical, and research experts who conducted more than a decade of formative research leading up to this application. Funding for this Phase 1 SBIR is needed before scaling development and testing more widely among potential health system and insurer customers.
Opioid misuse and abuse have reached epidemic proportions in recent years. They are linked to causing the largest drug epidemic in the history of the United States and the top priority of the US Surgeon General in attempting to prevent opioid overdoses. We seek to develop and test a HOPE online support community intervention platform for patients on opioid therapy, based on our preliminary successes, and designed to decrease opioid misuse and address this need. Our team already has extensive experience both with this area of research as well as commercial success with technology software. Funding for this Phase 1 SBIR is needed before scaling development and testing more widely among potential health system and insurer customers.