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Tapping the Power of Virtual Reality and Real-World Data to Reprogram Lower Back Pain


For the roughly 16 million Americans who suffer from chronic low back pain (CLBP), diagnosis is just the beginning of a slippery slope that typically starts with an opioid prescription and often ends with surgery and a lifetime of discomfort. According to a recent Komodo Health analysis, roughly 30% of CLBP patients begin their treatment journey with opioids and, of those, roughly 63% had a previous history of opioid use, suggesting what many back pain sufferers already know: It almost always comes back. 

Yet, for all the people who struggle with CLBP and its vicious cycle of opioids and surgeries, there has been very little in the way of innovation in how we treat the problem.

Enter Alternative Therapy

That is, until AppliedVR introduced a radical new way to treat CLBP using immersive virtual reality that helps reprogram patients’ brains to reduce pain on their own. 

Now, millions of CLBP patients – and their providers and health plans – have a safe, scalable, and cost-effective alternative treatment option for anyone experiencing chronic pain. Donning a set of VR goggles and going through a highly choreographed, skills-based treatment program could be a powerful solution to this pain management problem that is consistently ranked as one of the most prevalent chronic conditions plaguing the United States.

The breakthrough technology, which uses cognitive behavioral therapy to help with pain reduction, was recently granted FDA De Novo authorization, and AppliedVR is now rolling out an extensive research effort to further test its real-world effectiveness versus more traditional methods of treatment.

Real-World Data Revolutionizes HEOR

For that, they’ve turned to Komodo Health. By dialing into Komodo’s platform, AppliedVR is now able to supercharge its health economics and outcomes research (HEOR). Tracking the complete healthcare experiences of CLBP patients nationwide and comparing those outcomes with its own clinical trial data, AppliedVR will be able to more clearly understand and demonstrate the value its breakthrough therapy delivers compared with traditional chronic pain treatments. 

The AppliedVR team is also launching a four-arm treatment study, which will include three trial cohorts and one synthetic control arm made up entirely of patient experiences tracked using Komodo Health’s real-world data. What that means is – instead of creating a control arm of patients who need to enroll in the trial, only to be given a placebo – AppliedVR will gather all control data from real-world encounters of CLBP patients who are taking opioids, visiting chiropractors, and having surgeries to address their pain. This data will then be compared against the trial cohorts to evaluate comparative effectiveness of the VR therapy and highlight specific areas where it will have the biggest impact.BLOG AppliedVR _0425The findings will also be used to support AppliedVR in establishing strong payer relationships, building broader distribution networks, and pursuing label expansions.

Never Stop Innovating

The term "disruption" gets thrown around a lot these days as breakthrough digital technologies upend conventional systems and processes. In healthcare, the combination of strict regulatory requirements and the extraordinarily high stakes at play whenever a new technology is introduced means that the major disruptions to the status quo are fewer and further between. In this case, we’re very proud to be part of a breakthrough technology rollout that is not only changing the way the world thinks about routine treatment for a common and costly condition, but also changing the very nature of the clinical research process itself.

Learn more about how Komodo can power HEOR studies to deliver faster insights in “Using RWE to Get to Insights — and Action — Faster.”

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