Wilmington startup using technology assisted therapy to tackle opioid epidemic

Updated: Mar. 17, 2020 at 2:43 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - There’s not an app for it, yet, but a local startup is looking to take treating the opioid epidemic to the cloud.

“It’s an unbelievable tragedy that could have been avoided,” said opiAID co-founder David Reeser.

He and partner Stan Martin created opiAID – a unified, cloud-based platform that is billed as the world’s first technology assisted therapy that addresses opioid abuse.

“The idea of artificial intelligence, basically we’re just taking information and we’re allowing a computer to compress that information instead of having human beings work through it,” Reeser said. “It takes out a lot of the time that it would take to get to the head of this problem and the time is the one thing we don’t have the more time that goes by that we’re not utilizing every tool that we need the more people die."

Wilmington startup using technology assisted therapy to treat opioid abuse
Wilmington startup using technology assisted therapy to treat opioid abuse(David Reeser)

Reeser believes that information is at the core of solving the opioid problem – it’s just that the information needed isn’t typically shared between groups like hospitals, rehab clinics and law enforcement.

“There are local clinics in the city of Wilmington that we currently work with. I use their data de-identified so there’s no risk to the individual whatsoever,” Reeser said. “Then I contextualize that data for key insight so I actually I’m doing data science inside of clinics now improving care by identifying things that people can’t see.”

What the people behind opiAID are seeing is results.

“I know for a fact that we’ve saved one person’s life as a result of a key insight that we saw remotely and it was actually a machine algorithm picked it in the background identified somebody was having a cardiac event,” Reeser said.

While the data is tracked and gathered in the cloud, it will also be monitored in real time by a wearable device which could be like a Fitbit.

“Based on what we see in the data their phone will vibrate and they’ll look at it and they’ll see a picture of their reason for recovery — their loved ones, their dog, you know something that was important to them,” Reeser added. “That’s real invention real time hit him just when they were about to make that decision, but they could have done something they wouldn’t have come back from that’s really what it’s about.”

opiAID isn’t just technology assisted therapy (TAT), it is an assisted therapy.

“This is going to work in conjunction with their treatment program,” Reeser said. “I honestly think that’s the essence of how people achieve confident recovery. It’s not the medication assisted therapy alone, it’s not NA, it’s a community that rallies around them.“

Once development is complete, Reeser plans to roll out opiAID first in the Carolinas, then possibly the East Coast.

“This still relies on additional funding and additional data but we’re already seeing really promising things and we’re inching closer," Reeser said.

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