When we hear of new artificial intelligence (AI) applications, especially those that seem a bit too “big brother” for the liking of many, this story should better represent the true intent of libertarian paternalism, or the ethical framework designed to provide optimal decision making while still allowing for freedom of choice.
Medasense Biometrics, a company that has developed a patented technology platform to objectively assess the physiological response to pain (nociception), and which could ebb opioid addiction post-surgery.
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This company has come up with a portable pain sensor that can tell doctors how much pain a patient is feeling and how much pain care they need. Using artificial intelligence algorithms and real-time data, the company’s easy-to-use system is already changing precision medicine, allowing for personalized and optimized pain care to ensure that the patient doesn’t get too many opioids.
“Unlike other aspects of anesthesia, there have not been good monitors of painful stimuli during surgery, and how patients react. It has thus been challenging for anesthesiologists to know how much medication is needed to blunt surgical pain in individual patients. The problem is that too much or too little pain medication (usually narcotics) can be harmful. A monitor that accurately measures how patients react to surgical pain might therefore help guide clinical care,” Dr. Daniel Sessler, the founder and director of the Outcomes Research Consortium (the world’s largest clinical anesthesia research group), tells NoCamels.
Indeed, the average rate of later opioid dependence and addiction among surgical patients hovers at 12 percent, according to a US national pain report.
“We know that the first exposure to opioids for a large number of people addicted to opioids occurs after surgery. Thus it is logical that if we have a technology that allows us to titrate opioids more carefully during surgery, we can potentially decrease the habituation to opioid analgesia that the body develops during and immediately after surgery,” Dr. Frank J. Overdyk, an anesthesiologist in Charleston, South Carolina, tells NoCamels in an email exchange.
In fact, a recent study published in a peer-reviewed American Society of Anesthesiologists journal showed a 30-percent reduction in remifentanil consumption (a potent, short-acting synthetic opioid analgesic drug that is given to patients during surgery to relieve pain and as an adjunct to an anesthetic) in procedures performed with the Israeli company’s platform.
The pain sensor tech has been part of a number of clinical studies across the world including in the US, Europe, Canada, Japan, Israel, and Chile.
“For the first time in the history of surgery and anesthesia will we have the ability to measure painful stimuli during surgery directly. Currently, we have had to use indirect measures of pain such as high heart rate, pupil dilation and sweating as signs of pain. The NOL will allow us to titrate pain medicines more precisely and early studies suggest we will be able to use less opioid pain medicine. For patients, this means fewer side effects such as nausea, vomiting, itching, constipation and inability to void,” says Overdyk.
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Founder and CEO of Medasense, Galit Zuckerman-Stark grew up in operating rooms, watching her mom, a nurse, care for patients.