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Mobile Therapy Shown to Cut Opioid Hospital Care

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14 June 2022. An analysis of insurance claims shows patients using a mobile therapy app for opioid addiction use fewer hospital services than similar individuals without the app. Findings from the research conducted by Pear Therapeutics Inc. in Boston, developer of the software assessed in the study, were accepted for publication in the journal Advances in Therapy, and appear online in manuscript form.

Pear Therapeutics develops software for mobile devices designed to help treat a range of neurological disorders and other types of disease. The company’s first products are ReSet and ReSet-O, designed as treatments prescribed by physicians for substance abuse and opioid use disorder, respectively. ReSet and ReSet-O are created for individuals currently under the care of clinicians in outpatient settings, to assist in their therapy programs. The apps are based on cognitive behavioral therapy, where clinicians talk with patients to highlight unproductive or damaging behaviors to help individuals confront and respond in productive ways, with rewards and incentives to participants. As reported in Science & Enterprise, ReSet and Reset-O are the first mobile apps cleared by the Food and Drug Administration to help treat alcohol and drug abuse, as well as opioid use disorder.

The study, led by Fulton Velez, who heads Pear Therapeutics’ economics and real world evidence research, investigated relative usage and costs for health care services incurred by patients after opioid use disorder therapy with ReSet-O in the 12 months following treatment, compared to similar patients receiving therapy without the app. The researchers accessed health insurance claims from January 2018 through February 2021 in the HealthVerity database. The team looked particularly for individuals prescribed ReSet-O as part of their therapy, and sampled 901 patients who took part in ReSet-O, compared to 978 individuals prescribed the app, but chose not to participate.

More health care, but lower annual cost

The 901 ReSet-O patients were 62 percent female with a median age of 36, and about three quarters (74%) in Medicaid. The non-participant group of 978 individuals were 55 percent female with a median age of 38 and two-thirds (66%) in Medicaid. ReSet-O participants experienced 56 percent fewer hospital admissions in the 12 months following treatment than non-participants, with 28 percent fewer in-patient hospital stays, and seven percent fewer emergency room visits, all differences large enough for statistical reliability.

ReSet-O patients, as a group, had nearly 1,400 more clinic visits than non-app participants, with higher numbers of visits to clinicians among people covered by Medicaid. In addition, ReSet-O patients reported more use of medications, including the opioid treatment drug buprenorphine, than non-app participants. But despite more routine health care use by the ReSet-O group, their annual average health care costs were nearly $2,800 less than non-app participants, with annual costs per person among those covered by Medicaid more than $3,800 less.

“The data show our health economic outcomes for ReSet-O now go out to 12 months,” says Pear Therapeutics chief medical officer and co-author of the paper Yuri Maricich in a company statement, “demonstrating durability of the clinical effect for opioid use disorder patients, which is an often difficult to treat patient group as shown in part by the record number of overdose deaths over the last year.” Maricich adds, “To overcome the opioid crisis, we must increase access to treatment options that may improve outcomes.”

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