A new, first-of-its-kind app has launched to help patients suffering from chronic pain track their opioid use and measure pain levels to assist with the safe use of opioids.
The My Opioid Manager (MyOM) app, developed at Toronto Rehab, University Health Network, helps patients with chronic, non-cancer pain, such as osteoarthritis and low back pain, understand uses of opioids and the side effects and risks; track their pain and opioid use; and easily share information about their chronic pain with their health-care team.
MyOM is specifically for patients using opioids for chronic, non-cancer pain.
“Patients need to know the risks, and better understand their dose, potential complications, and the interaction opioids have with other medications they may be taking,” says Dr. Andrea Furlan, physician and scientist, Toronto Rehab, and co-creator of MyOM. “Patients are often very fearful of how their body will react to opioids or that they will become addicted. The app is designed to educate and hopefully dispel some of their fears.”
The app builds on the Opioid Manager, which helps doctors decide whether to prescribe opioids and makes it easier to monitor their patients.
MyOM is interactive, allowing patients to create pain diaries, use body maps to visualize and outline pain intensity, and measure changes in their pain through questionnaires. These tools can help empower patients to engage in decision-making with their health-care team.
“Chronic pain often makes patients feel like they don’t have control over their body and how they’re feeling,” says Amy Robidas, registered nurse, Toronto Rehab, and co-developer of the app. “Having the ability to track opioid use themselves, gives patients the ability to be partners in their own care.”
The app also makes it easy for patients to track and share information with their health-care team.
“There can be a lot of stigma around opioid use. This is a tool that can help patients develop trust with their physician and allow for more time to discuss questions and concerns and set functioning goals,” says Robidas.
Lise Morency has been living with chronic pain since April 2013. Constant pain, severe lack of sleep and finding herself unable to work, Lise was prescribed a variety of opioids. She says the MyOM app has helped her understand pain management.
“Making daily notes of my pain levels, identifying them and their causes, and listing the pain medications I’ve taken as a result, gives me a clearer understanding of what leads to my discomforts and the importance of my part in it,” Lise says.
“I no longer live with the fear of becoming addicted to my pain medication because I can easily track what I consume and have better conversations with my care team. I also feel comfortable attempting different solutions to the pain, like stretches or exercise,” she says.
Dr. Furlan and her team are set to assess how patients use the app and whether it improves their experience with opioid prescription by keeping them informed.
MyOM is a free smartphone app available through theiTunes Store and Google Play for iOS (iPhone/iPad) and Android devices. It also includes an accompanying free iBook – an educational and informational resource to help patients understand and manage their pain with opioid use.
This project was funded by the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute-UHN and the New Investigator Award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).