Called “PMC 320,” the app — currently being used Brigham and Women’s Hospital and designed by the center’s own pain management providers — allows users to document on-going pain levels and track medication usage; provides general information and helpful tips in regards to conditions; and permits patients to communicate with physicians through a two-way messenger system.

“Patients like to believe that their practitioner is following their progress and paying attention to them,” Jamison said. “The pain app with two-way messaging gives the impression that someone is watching them and, we believe, strengthens the connection between physician and patient.”

To gather data about a patient’s mood and stress levels, the app prompts the user with a reminder, asking the patient to complete five quick questions each day: What is your pain intensity; what is your level of sleep; what is your activity interference; what is your mood; and have things gotten better or worse in the past 24 hours? The scale for each question ranges from one to 10 (10 being the strongest pain).

“This ratings can be completed in five seconds,” Jamison he said. “The data are saved as line-graphs, which are then transferred to each patient’s medical record.”

Since it’s launch, the app, which is available in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store, has been well received by patients, he said.

“The patients seem very willing to download and use the app and there has been a very high rate of daily compliance,”” Jamison noted. “We offer feedback and support to those who are experiencing a flare-up of their pain and we encourage those who show improvement. This has been perceived as very valuable.”

PMC 320’s developers have been making updates based off of feedback from users. App improvements are to be expected in upcoming version release. “For example, our next version will offer reminders for upcoming appointments and medication schedules,” he said.

“We want to find out if using the app keeps patients from going to the emergency room or dropping in at a clinic when the patient experiences a flare-up of their pain,” Jamison said. “Pain is a very negative experience and can be associated with increased anxiety and depression. We hope that the app will offer a way for patients to communicate with their providers without having to go to the hospital and without experiencing unnecessary tests and treatments. Ultimately the app may help some patients to find better ways to cope with their condition that may translate into reduced healthcare utilization.”

Reference

1. Verdon DR, et al. Med Econ. 2014.