Opioid Substitute Tracks Brainwaves, Serves Dancing Potatoes

Ingrid Hein

October 06, 2017

Videos, games, and puzzles are good distractions from pain and could one day be an effective alternative to opioids, according to a patient satisfaction survey completed by users of a new tool that integrates such distractions into a system that tracks pain and comfort levels.

The AccendoWave system combines a Samsung Galaxy tablet loaded with content with an EEG headband that uses full-spectrum brain wave analysis and algorithms to track pain and nausea levels.

"Doctors are really seeing this as a tool in their multimodal pain protocol to use in tandem with opioids and nonopioids," said Martha Lawrence, chief executive officer and cofounder of AccendoWave. The company is working with AT&T to bring the product to market in the months ahead.

The system was piloted with 1000 patients at Southern Hills Hospital & Medical Center in Las Vegas, but has been used by more than 18,000 patients in acute care settings.

Patients use the system for about 100 minutes in the emergency department, or for 140 minutes in the oncology unit, Lawrence told Medscape Medical News. It has also been used for postoperative pain management in the orthopedic unit.

Among the more than 300 hours of content loaded on the tablet are sports for sports fans, games for Sudoku aficionados (popular with elderly patients), and puzzles for children. The music section was especially popular with longer-term patients, especially at night, Lawrence reported.

The tool is tuned to a patient's brainwaves and will automatically serve up video content with the goal of reducing pain.

The alpha wave is how relaxed you are, and the blue is beta, showing your level of focus and attention.

Lawrence pointed to a set of sign waves at the bottom of the screen during her demonstration at the Health 2.0 Annual Fall Conference 2017 in Santa Clara, California. "The alpha wave is how relaxed you are, and the blue is beta, showing your level of focus and attention," she explained.

At the top of the screen, there is a set of faces that depict levels of discomfort determined on the basis of a patient's brainwaves. If patients disagree with the assessment, they can select a different face. There are also three faces that illustrate levels of nausea.

"I tend to see golden retrievers running around when I use it," Lawrence told the audience at the Health 2.0 Annual Fall Conference 2017 in Santa Clara, California. But someone else could see animated dancing potatoes with British accents.

"It helps you stay relaxed and calm," Lawrence reported.

The patient is able to override the selection made by the tool and instead watch a full-length movie or play a game.

High Rates of Patient Satisfaction

Every patient who uses the system is asked to complete a satisfaction survey at the end of their session. Of the 3347 responses the company has received to date, 2803 (84%) patients report that the system helped them feel more comfortable. In addition, 76% of respondents said they were convinced that the system understood their discomfort, 91% said they "enjoyed" using the system, and 87% said they thought the tool understood the content they liked best.

Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems scores have risen "an average of 5 to 8 points," Lawrence reported.

Health 2.0 Annual Fall Conference 2017. Presented October 3, 2017.

Follow Medscape on Twitter @Medscape and Ingrid Hein @ingridhein


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.