AccendoWave is an exciting new system that uses machine learning technology to objectively measure and manage pain without relying on the current standard of subjective pain data. Harnessing active comfort management technology through use of a tablet computer, EEG (electroencephalography) headband, and AccendoWave software, the system has been shown to reduce pain levels in 83% of patients in a clinical setting.
Used by health systems to reduce anxiety before medical procedures and to effectively control pain afterward, the AccendoWave system has found success in a number of settings across the nation, including Southern Hills Hospital & Medical Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, West Valley Medical Center in Caldwell, Idaho, and Mountain Division HCA Healthcare serving patients in 11 hospitals and 58 physician practices across three states.
AccendoWave is making waves in health systems across the country that are striving to reduce opioid use and increase the availability of non-pharmacological pain management options to patients. Taking notice, the UCSF Health Awards recently named the system as a Quarterfinalist in the category of New Health Application of AI.
To learn more about this innovative technology for managing pain, AACIPM sat down with AccendoWave’s CEO and Co-Founder, Martha Lawrence.
AACIPM: AccendoWave was recently selected as a Quarterfinalist in the UCSF Heath Awards. Why do you think that UCSF chose to recognize AccendoWave?
Ms. Lawrence: UCSF understood the scope of the problem AccendoWave is solving with pain measurement and pain management and the magnitude of the impact for multiple stakeholders. They also recognized the scale of validation with AccendoWave and real-world evidence of more than 70,000 hospital patients having used the technology. UCSF was also interested in the regulatory roadmap. In August 2021, AccendoWave made a first FDA submission, and the FDA’s Head of Neurology provided the roadmap.
AACIPM: How does AccendoWave measure pain?
Ms. Lawrence: AccendoWave uses deep learning full spectrum brain analysis. AccendoWave uses an EEG headband paired with a Samsung tablet. The EEG headband communicates wirelessly with the tablet and is used to objectively measure patient brain waves and then correlates brain waves with the patient’s perception of pain, discomfort, or anxiety. The results are translated into a standard chart of facial expressions, which is displayed on the tablet screen. If patients disagree with the assessment, they can alter the results by selecting a different face. Currently, no other objective pain measurement solution exists, leaving clinical staff and patients attempting to guess the patient’s level of pain.
AACIPM: How does AccendoWave help to reduce a patient’s pain? Is there any similarity to virtual reality?
Ms. Lawrence: AccendoWave’s Digital Opioid Alternative serves up content that changes based on the patient’s brain wave activity. As the patient views various video clips, their EEG signals are analyzed to examine brain wave activity. Because brain waves have been shown to be a reliable indicator of pain, this analysis provides real-time feedback to the system, allowing it to curate the content presented to the user and minimize patient pain and discomfort.
Both Virtual Reality and AccendoWave are considered non-pharma pain management modalities. The differences are:
- Side Effects – AccendoWave has no known side effects, while virtual reality has been known to cause nausea in some patients.
- Individualized Content – AccendoWave provides individualized and personalized content based on each patient’s pain level and how they are reacting to the content, as opposed to virtual reality, which shows the patient the same content/game that every other patient sees.
- Objective Pain Data – We believe AccendoWave’s ability to provide objective pain data is the most important distinguishing factor as we look at improving care outcomes and reducing costs in healthcare. AccendoWave provides individual quantified objective pain data as well as aggregated pain data. For example, in the hospital, AccendoWave provides data, by department, related to: the average pain level, maximum pain level, time usage of the technology, and patient satisfaction levels with the technology. All of this pain and satisfaction data then flows into a Joint Commission Report that hospitals can use to demonstrate their inclusion of a non-pharmacological pain modality in their pain management programs (as required by The Joint Commission).
AACIPM: Why is AccendoWave’s innovative approach to managing pain needed in our current environment?
Ms. Lawrence: Health equity. This is a major area of focus in healthcare today, as there is a growing body of research that shows bias against women and ethnic minorities results in chronic undertreatment of their pain. Pain is one of the most subjective measures in all of medicine – and thus subject to bias. AccendoWave is an unbiased health equity solution, and it was actually the National Cancer Institute that first identified this for us. In the hospital, AccendoWave doesn’t know a patient’s sex or ethnicity (other than in Labor & Delivery, where we are very clear that we have women in pain). The technology simply compares each patient’s brain waves and perception of pain with the more than 70,000 patients that have used the technology.
AACIPM: What sparked your interest in measuring and managing pain in novel ways?
Ms. Lawrence: As a former hospital executive, I understood how important pain is to the patient experience. In the hospital, on the white board in the patient room in the box that says “What is important to you today?”, about 90-95% of patients say: pain control and pain management. In addition, I understood the operational impact of the lack of objective pain data. Pain is one of the primary reasons that patients access healthcare. So, pain is a primary driver of cost, but pain level data doesn’t show up in claims data and you also can’t extract pain level data from electronic health records. Thus, stakeholders have no insight into the biggest driver of cost in healthcare. We need objective pain data to improve the patient experience, reduce one of the primary cost drivers, and provide quantified outcomes data to support evidence-based pain care.
AACIPM: You have been very involved in educating employers about the benefits of AccendoWave. As a result, AT&T, among others, have added AccendoWave to their benefit design plans for their employees. What convinced them that this was the right decision?
Ms. Lawrence: Employers are looking at innovative ways that they can improve employee health and reduce opioid usage. AT&T developed a CarePlus Benefit Plan where they can reimburse AccendoWave for their 250,000 employees for the first 30 days post hospital discharge. Many hospitals still have 100% of their Ortho Neuro patients going home with an opioid prescription. AT&T has done the financial calculations—and believes that reducing opioid usage, both in the hospital and at home, will be beneficial for their employee’s health.
AACIPM: Are there plans for AccendoWave to be used outside of the hospital setting?
Ms. Lawrence: Yes. Pain is not simply the domain of hospitals, so AccendoWave is expanding into outpatient, ambulatory, and home settings. Areas of growth are: Pharma Clinical Trials, Remote Pain Monitoring, Pain Care Pathways for Medicare Advantage Health Plans, and Pain Data Analytics for Government/Health Plans/Hospitals.
AACIPM: As a company focused on identifying alternative ways to objectively measure and manage pain, what have you appreciated about working with AACIPM’s unique alliance of stakeholders?
Ms. Lawrence: AACIPM is a unique organization focused on the patient with pain and evidenced based pain care to improve health outcomes. I have appreciated the organizational rigor for evidence-based research paired with the desire to innovate models of pain care and expand reimbursement for integrated pain programs and services.
AACIPM: Is there anything else you think that AACIPM stakeholders (people living with pain, public and private insurers, government agencies, patient and caregiver advocates, researchers, purchasers of healthcare, policy experts, and the spectrum of healthcare providers) should know about AccendoWave?
Ms. Lawrence: AccendoWave’s vision is to reduce healthcare costs and suffering by quantitatively measuring and managing pain, and we understand that each stakeholder channel will have different value-based use cases for our objective pain data. With that in mind, we have an ability customize our solutions for these varying needs.
AccendoWave offers three solutions:
- A Digital Opioid Alternative
- Remote Pain Monitoring
- Largest Real-Time Objective Benchmarked (specialty, sex, age) Pain Database.