Chronic pain, lasting from three to six months or more, can severely limit a patient’s quality of life, restricting their mobility and ability to enjoy or even partake in normal daily activities. This can lead to a number of secondary problems, from depression and obesity to drug abuse and sleep deprivation, which in turn can lead to diabetes and heart disease and, subsequently, more pain.
More than 120 million people, and one in five Americans, are living with chronic pain,¹ contributing to about $560 billion each year in direct medical costs, lost productivity and disability programs.²
These stats, while compelling, tell a fraction of the pain story. The emotional toll on patients who have been told to “shake it off,” take another pill, lose weight or, worse yet, get over it since it’s all in their heads, is equally if not more devastating. Some are struggling with an opioid addiction. Others are skeptical of doctors they have come to regard as dismissive. Many feel isolated, hurting alone, desperate for help and understanding. All the while their pain persists.
The impact on physicians, already experiencing or at risk of burnout, is serious. Chronic pain is expensive and time intensive to treat. “Patient compliance is a key component to success, but it can be difficult to achieve without regular monitoring and accountability,” says Neel Mehta, MD, Director of Pain Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical Center, and a medical advisor for Upside Health.
What’s more, reimbursements can also be challenging as billing and coding for pain management is complicated and under greater scrutiny. Physician practices must be diligent in their reporting of data. The financial burden of managing complicated cases can be immense.
We feel your pain and share your frustration.
For many physicians, there simply aren’t enough office hours in the day to treat and monitor pain patients in a way that makes a profound, lasting difference in their patients’ lives. Our healthcare system makes it easier for physicians to order more tests, administer more cortisone shots and prescribe more medication than to dig deep into a patient’s unique and sometimes hopeless experience with pain. And no one feels good about that.
“Patients want to know that they are not alone, that they are being heard and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel,” says Dr. Mehta. “They want to know what has worked for other patients. They look to us as healthcare practitioners to provide that kind of information and support. Our goal is to keep them engaged in the process and with other pain patients. Ouchie was designed to do both.”