POLITICO held a conference titled “A Tale of Two Crises” on October 18 to explore how using technology and innovation can help to combat the issues of opioid addiction and diabetes. As noted by moderator Joanne Kennen, executive health care editor at POLITICO, “More than a third of Americans have diabetes or pre-diabetes, and an estimated 115 people die each day as a result of opioid abuse.” In order to find a way to combat these conditions that are gripping the nation, health leaders are harnessing the latest technological advancements to employ prevention programs and to provide healthcare in new and innovative ways.
In the first panel, which centered on the opioid epidemic, Samantha Arsenault, Director of National Treatment Quality Initiatives for Shatterproof, reported that she has been using claims data to create a standardized addiction treatment plan, stating, “we all know what to look for when picking a sunscreen, but we don’t know what to look for with an addiction treatment program.”
The panel also featured Elizabeth Goodman, DrPH, JD, MSW, Executive Vice President of Government Affairs and Innovation for America’s Health Insurance Plans.
Eric Weintraub, MD, Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Maryland School of Medicine, spoke on how he is leading an initiative that uses telehealth to extend the reach of addiction specialists and providers to rural areas who may not have access. However, he noted that “what works in Maryland may not work in Alaska,” and called on innovators to help tailor this program to the specific needs of a state.
In the second panel, which focused on diabetes, featured Heather Hodge, MEd, Senior Director, Evidence-based Health Interventions for YMCA of the USA, Dana Lewis, Founder of #OpenAPS, and Joshua Riff, MD, Chief Executive Officer for Onduo. They discussed the importance of using technology and innovation to reduce the burden of living with diabetes. Lewis reported being inspired by the DIY community to design and create her own wearable computer, which allows her to be proactive about tracking her diabetes treatment. She asked all researchers to “do it for the patients.”