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Papers of the Week

Papers: 17 Feb 2024 - 23 Feb 2024


Front Pain Res (Lausanne)



The Pain Intervention & Digital Research Program: an operational report on combining digital research with outpatient chronic disease management.


Fu M, Shen J, Gu C, Oliveira E, Shinchuk E, Isaac H, Isaac Z, Sarno DL, Kurz JL, Silbersweig DA, Onnela JP, Barron DS


Chronic pain affects up to 28% of U.S. adults, costing ∼$560 billion each year. Chronic pain is an instantiation of the perennial complexity of how to best assess and treat chronic diseases over time, especially in populations where age, medical comorbidities, and socioeconomic barriers may limit access to care. Chronic disease management poses a particular challenge for the healthcare system’s transition from fee-for-service to value and risk-based reimbursement models. Remote, passive real-time data from smartphones could enable more timely interventions and simultaneously manage risk and promote better patient outcomes through predicting and preventing costly adverse outcomes; however, there is limited evidence whether remote monitoring is feasible, especially in the case of older patients with chronic pain. Here, we introduce the Pain Intervention and Digital Research (Pain-IDR) Program as a pilot initiative launched in 2022 that combines outpatient clinical care and digital health research. The Pain-IDR seeks to test whether functional status can be assessed passively, through a smartphone application, in older patients with chronic pain. We discuss two perspectives-a narrative approach that describes the clinical settings and rationale behind changes to the operational design, and a quantitative approach that measures patient recruitment, patient experience, and HERMES data characteristics. Since launch, we have had 77 participants with a mean age of 55.52, of which  = 38 have fully completed the 6 months of data collection necessitated to be considered in the study, with an active data collection rate of 51% and passive data rate of 78%. We further present preliminary operational strategies that we have adopted as we have learned to adapt the Pain-IDR to a productive clinical service. Overall, the Pain-IDR has successfully engaged older patients with chronic pain and presents useful insights for others seeking to implement digital phenotyping in other chronic disease settings.