Ohio is looking to technology to find a solution to the growing opioid crisis in the United States and beyond.

Ohio Governor John Kasich requested that the Ohio Third Frontier, a tech accelerator aimed at channelling advanced ideas from the state’s world-class universities and hospitals into new technology, seek new solutions to fight the growing health epidemic. The Ohio Opioid Technology Challenge was born, “a three-phase, prize-based competition to find technology-based solutions that address or improve opioid abuse prevention, treatment and overdose avoidance and response”.

“In Ohio we’ve taken the lead to try and find a solution to what is a global problem,” says David Goodman, director of economic development body the Ohio Development Services Agency and chair of the Ohio Third Frontier Commission. “Ohio put out the call for new ideas and people from across the world responded. This issue affects countless individuals, families and communities, so we’re thrilled by the level of response and excited to move these ideas forward and save lives.”

The first stage, Ideation, received hundreds of responses from average citizens, scientists and healthcare professionals across Ohio, the U.S. and nine countries around the world, with five top concepts winning $10,000 each. Now, in its second Challenge Phase, the focus is on four areas: diagnose, prevent, connect and protect. Twelve finalists will receive $200,000 to advance their idea, before moving on to the final Product Phase, which will allow them to further build their product, preparing it to go to market.

Ohio’s core of healthcare and technology knowledge featured strongly in the first round. One of the top five ideas, a neurofeedback program that examines brain activity to help those recovering from addiction, came from the University of Dayton Research Institute. “We can show someone what is happening in a certain part of their brain and then use visualization tools and games to suppress or amplify that activity. This helps them control cravings and prevent a relapse,” says research software engineer Kelly Cashion.

Another winner was Cincinnati-based healthcare tech company Kinematechs. Its idea uses augmented reality to help a patient recovering from injury reduce their pain medicine needs. Using motion-tracking, CTO Yong Pei and company aim to personalise physical rehab, which will improve therapy.

The other winners include an addiction assessment app that would identify patients who are at higher risk for opioid abuse, a mindfulness-based smoking cessation therapy adapted for opioid addiction, and a virtual reality program to prevent addiction in teens and young adults.

“We’re hoping that these ideas become the solutions for tomorrow,” Goodman says. “Making advancements in technology is one more way to ensure we leave no stone unturned.”

Featured image: Kelly Cashion, research software engineer at the University of Dayton Research Institute, analyzes data from a brain scanning session. Photo Courtesy Ohio Third Frontier.


(via AmericanInno, Development Ohio, Ohio Third Frontier)