Five Questions and an Elevator Pitch: Relieve
1. What is the need that your project seeks to address?
Ian: Chronic musculoskeletal (MSK) pain is costly for patients, employers, and the healthcare system, and current solutions are uncoordinated. Each year, 127 million Americans suffer from MSK pain, resulting in $213 billion in costs from treatment, care, and lost wages – not to mention the trillion-dollar opioid epidemic. MSK pain is one of the biggest reasons for missing work. Current pain management is haphazard. Patients often do not feel heard.
2. How does your solution work?
Ian: Our solution is Relieve – a digital platform that combines a smart treatment marketplace, data-driven insights, and community support for comprehensive pain management.
We learned from the patients and providers that we talked to that chronic pain care requires a holistic approach, so there are three parts of our solution. The smart treatment marketplace provides patients with different options to get the mental, physical, and lifestyle interventions they need to treat their chronic pain. The data-driven metrics help track patients’ pain over time. In the long term, we hope to be able to use insights from this data to predict pain for our patients. Finally, we included community support because we heard from a lot of people that community is important in the healing process, and currently available solutions don't offer that.
3. What motivated you to take on this project? And what activities have you undertaken?
Ian: We spoke to physicians and patients with different chronic diseases and saw that chronic pain affected so many lives. It was so debilitating for many individuals that it essentially became all-consuming. We wanted to find ways that we could help.
Since completing the class, we have used our Stanford Biodesign NEXT funding to design a prototype of our platform.
4. What’s the most important thing you learned in advancing your project?
Ian: There are two very important lessons. First, stay need-focused, especially early on. You're going to miss something if you focus on solutions before you really understand the problem well. And second, get lots of feedback. We have presented our project to many different advisors, and every time they give us insights that we otherwise might have overlooked.
5. What advice do you have for aspiring health technology innovators?
Ian: Communication is the key to everything. Having a strong foundation of communication within your team will save you a lot of trouble and keep everyone aligned on your project. You’ll be able to take advantage of so many more insights if you're all on the same page. Our commitment to open communication is always a work in progress. But, very early on, we settled on a weekly meeting schedule, our preferred form of communicating, and how we were going to update one another on our goals and plans for each week.
Original Team Members: Niranjan Balachandar, Karen Chen, Jerome Fischer, Ian Hall, Alessandra Holzem, Junichi Kushioka, Zoe von Gerlach
Course: Biodesign for Digital Health
Biodesign NEXT funding: Awarded for winter quarter 2022