Cleveland doctors create software that helps keep prescribed painkillers to a minimum

Cleveland doctors create software that helps keep prescribed painkillers to a minimum

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - A local hospital is being recognized for its efforts to cut back on the number of unnecessary painkiller prescriptions.

Doctors at University hospitals were shocked, alarmed and saddened by the opioid crisis, and they decided enough is enough.

They developed a method to make sure that no more prescription pills go out than absolutely necessary.

And once they are out, doctors want to be sure their patients know how to fight their addiction and transition back to normal life.

An unprecedented crisis requires solutions we’ve never seen before, and that’s exactly how the winners of the Ohio...

Posted by Hannah Catlett on Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Hundreds, if not thousands, of families here in Northeast Ohio know the pain created by the very pills prescribed to help pain subside.

The new technology developed at University Hospitals helps determine if a patient should go home with an opioid prescription.

Jonathan Sague works with University Hospitals and says if the answer is yes, doctors can also more easily assess a patient’s risk of addiction.

“We then bring in a social worker to connect that patient to care in the community as they leave our hospital with acute pain and an opioid prescription, because we don’t want them to fight that battle alone when they go home," Sague said.

The program is one of four saluted today at the state capitol.

It’s all part of the Ohio Opioid Technology Challenge, launched to find new solutions to problems stemming from the opioid crisis.

Lydia Mihalik with the department of Ohio Economic Development says, “It’s important for us to take an all-hands-on-deck approach, and that includes innovation to seek out solutions that will eventually solve this problem that we all share.”

The contest also yielded other great inventions.

Someone came up with a high-tech mattress that gently vibrates to soothe newborns addicted to opioids. It also helps regulate their breathing and heartbeats.

And, another team came up with smart button technology that can be installed at a home where someone is battling addition. It deploys support or emergency services for possible overdoses.

Doctors say the program at UH has already kept more than 12,000 pills from hitting the streets of Northeast Ohio.

“It’s not just about the number of pills, it’s about real number of human lives that are being affected positively by not being exposed to these opioids," Sague said.

The winners of the state’s challenge get $1 million to continue expanding the technologies they’ve created.

UH says it wants to further develop its software and commercialize it so other hospitals across the country can use it.

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