A nurse at University Hospitals assesses a patient being discharged with an opioid prescription for addiction risk. Technology developed here has already kept more than 12,000 opioid pills out of communities, and is expanding after winning a $1 million prize from the Ohio Opioid Technology Challenge. Submitted photo.

New Tech Successfully Battling Opioid Crisis After Ohio Competition Calls for Solutions

COLUMBUS, Ohio – For the past two decades, the opioid crisis has plagued communities across the nation, destroying lives and families. It’s an unprecedented crisis in the United States, and effectively battling this health epidemic will require new solutions. That’s why Ohio launched the Ohio Opioid Technology Challenge in 2017, putting out the call to the world for innovative ideas that leverage the latest technology to fight the opioid crisis. Now, at the culmination of the challenge, four prize recipients are already creating change and saving lives.

A patient in addiction recovery performs a recorded sobriety breath test via the DynamiCare app. The company’s technology rewards app users for staying sober and making healthy choices. Submitted photo.

“Great ideas can come from a lot of places, and we’re putting them to good use here in Ohio to battle drug abuse and addiction,” said Lydia Mihalik, director of the Ohio Economic Development. 

Hundreds of submissions poured in from around the world and 12 companies were awarded funding in 2018 to continue developing their technology. Now, four of those companies have been named winners of the Ohio Opioid Technology Challenge and were each awarded an additional $1 million. The winning companies are:

  • Brave – Smart button technology installed in the home of a person struggling with addiction or opioid use. When activated, the quarter-sized button immediately sends support or emergency services to someone in danger of overdosing. 
  • DynamiCare – A comprehensive system to help those in addiction recovery with an app to track their progress, a smart debit card that rewards healthy choices and video calls with a dedicated recovery coach.
  • Prapela – High-tech mattresses that use strategic vibrations to gently soothe babies born addicted to opioids, while also regulating their breathing and heart rates.  
  • University Hospitals – A technology platform that helps determine if a patient should leave the hospital with an opioid prescription, and if so, whether they are at risk for addiction. Patients are connected to resources near their home to help them safely transition home. The program has already kept more than 12,000 opioid pills out of northeast Ohio communities.
Prapela has developed mattresses that soothe babies born addicted to opioids while regulating their breathing and heart rates. The company is one of the winners of the Ohio Opioid Technology Challenge. Submitted photo.

“Ohio is advancing the most promising technologies and bringing these life-saving solutions to market as quickly as possible,” said Mihalik. “It’s important for us to take an all-hands-on-deck approach, and that includes innovation to seek out solutions that will eventually solve this problem that we all share.”