Hospice and palliative care provider VITAS Healthcare is launching an opioid dosing tool within its app. 

The tool, designed for providers caring for patients with serious illnesses, aims to determine an opioid dosage that treats pain effectively while considering an individual patient’s end-of-life plans.

It uses data on a patient’s pain level, medical condition and current pain drug regimen to find opioid options, delivery methods and dose titration.

WHY IT MATTERS

Today the opioid epidemic remains of America’s major public health issues. In fact, the CDC reports  that roughly 70% of drug over doses in 2019 involved opioids. Prescription opioids have often been blamed as part of the epidemic. However, the hospice space is one area where opioids are often used for helping manage pain at the end of life. VITAS is pitching this product as a way to help caregivers figure the correct amount of medications. 

“Pain management for hospice patients can be a complex practice that differs greatly from the treatment of other populations,” said Dr. Joseph Shega, executive vice president and chief medical officer for VITAS, in a statement.

“We consider a variety of non-pharmacological and pharmacological options to help alleviate pain with minimal side effects and give patients the comfort and quality of life they deserve.”

THE LARGER TREND

Another digital tool that aims to assist with hospice and palliative care is health system Providence’s video-based solution that helps facilitate conversations about what kind of care patients want at the end of their lives. 

“These are important yet hard things to talk about,” Dr. Matthew Gonzales, chief medical information officer at the Institute for Human Caring at Providence, said during a HIMSS20 Digital event. “They aren’t entirely the easiest thing to dig into and process – and talk about in our society, and they are ultimately so important to the way that we are trying to make sure that we work with our patients and families to be able to achieve what matters to them.”

Researchers from Project Big Life, a Canadian health calculation research group, built an end-of-life prediction calculator to help seriously ill people and their caregivers figure out what types of care and other services they might need. 

In terms of pain management, Australia-based PainChek uses facial recognition to help identify symptoms in people who can’t vocalize their pain, like those with dementia.

“The main problem is that pain often goes unrecognized and under-treated in people with communication difficulties such as dementia,” Philip Daffas, CEO of PainChek, told MobiHealthNews last year. “Although tools exist to assess pain, they are often subjective, manually based and subsequently underused by carers.” 



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