Create an Opioid Recovery App for Patients Receiving Treatment!

Create an innovative mobile app to provide opioid recovery support for patients receiving medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorders

Are you good at creating user-friendly mobile apps for smartphones? Do you like to make a positive difference in the lives of others and in our nation’s communities? Then we’re looking for you to work on this challenge! Just as there are apps to help people with diabetes manage their disease, people in recovery from opioid use disorder could benefit from an app that provides features and information that support their recovery.

Addiction is a chronic brain disease. Those who suffer from a substance use disorder need help to change their behavior and learn new strategies to maintain health. They can get this help with treatment—with the care of doctors and substance use disorders treatment providers. Treatment can help people stop using substances. It helps them get through withdrawal and cope with cravings. Treatment also helps address other harmful behaviors that are not conducive to recovery. 

Just as important, treatment helps people address life issues they might have that can trigger relapse, such as feelings of low self-worth, a bad situation at work or home, a co-occurring mental disorder, or spending time with people who use drugs. In short, treatment helps people move into healthy lifestyles—into a new way of living which is referred to as recovery.

Treatment may include medication. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is treatment that includes the use of medication along with counseling and other types of support. Treatment that includes medication-assisted treatment is an important option for opioid use disorder. Medication-assisted treatment can reduce problems of withdrawal and craving. Research also shows maintenance treatment typically leads to reduction or cessation of illicit opioid use and its adverse consequences, including cellulitis, hepatitis, and HIV infection from use of nonsterile injection equipment, as well as criminal behavior associated with obtaining drugs. These changes can give the person the chance to focus on the lifestyle changes that lead back to healthy living.  People in outpatient MAT could benefit from a mobile app for smartphones that provides features and information that supports their maintenance in recovery.

Below are some ideas and information on the insights regarding what patients receiving MAT might need, and what an app like this might do to respond to those insights. There are some required features and resources that must be included in the final product - we’ve provided them in the assets file. The rest is up to you. We ask you to be creative and innovative, and to develop a good user experience. You might want to collaborate with an existing recovery tool already on the market, or think of a recovery-related use to an existing tool.

What does someone in recovery from opioid use disorder need and what type of mobile app could you create? Here’s insight one: Since medication-assisted treatment is likely an important part of an individual’s recovery, patients may need drug interaction and side effect information for methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone that they can access on their own, 24/7. For instance, an individual may have started methadone treatment a couple of days ago but is suddenly feeling some side effects and can’t reach a doctor to ask them about these side effects. With the app, they can look up side effects, how long they might last, and what else they can anticipate – all via the privacy of their smartphone.

Insight two: Patients receiving MAT need education and psychoeducational materials for opioid recovery support, such as how to manage their time; information on parenting skills; and the effects of drug use on their family. Perhaps they haven’t told their friends yet that they’re receiving MAT, and aren’t sure how to go about it. Access to information that explains to friends and family what MAT is and how it helps with recovery could be made available, or shared with a friend, via their smartphone.

While a person receiving MAT has a doctor, case manager, and addiction counselor, the provider may not have enough time in an appointment to provide all of the resources that a patient may need. A patient could use a one-stop shop for psycho-educational resources that provide tips, facts, and worksheets on how to deal with common issues and concerns that occur in opioid recovery, such as problems sleeping; dealing with drug triggers; avoiding relapse; dealing with guilt; managing time, life, money, and emotions; repairing relationships; and dealing with other health issues. Having these resources on a smartphone – a tool many people carry with them everywhere – means that they are available for use and referral in down time, waiting time, or crisis time.

Insight three is related to relapse prevention – an important component of recovery. One of the main ways to prevent relapse is getting involved in healthy activities - replacing unhealthy habits with new habits that have emotional, physical, and/or social wellness benefits, such as participating in peer support groups, and exercise. An app feature that helps patients find local recovery support meetings easily and anonymously, or online peer support groups they could access via their phone – would put recovery support at their fingertips. The second important component of relapse prevention is being aware and avoiding triggers for drug use. Triggers could be certain people, places, or situations. Perhaps a feature that reminds patients, via a call or text when a trigger is present would be useful – to help keep their recovery at the forefront of their awareness.

Insight four describes how individuals in MAT need support in relapse prevention such as warning signs, trigger alerts, and motivations for recovery. Could recovery motivation reminders in a calendar tool, with links to personal motivations – such as photos of family, friends, pets, or goals – help patients stay focused on their reasons for recovery? Could a trigger response feature be created with contacts when a person needs support? Perhaps they could link other motivational materials to reminders – like links to inspiring YouTube videos, songs, talks/podcasts, fitness links, memes, or photos from their photo gallery. Another important component of relapse prevention is being aware and avoiding triggers for drug use. Triggers could be certain people, places, or situations. Perhaps a feature that reminds patients, via a call or text when a trigger is present would be useful – to help keep their recovery at the forefront of their awareness.

Insight five shows that Individuals in MAT maintenance are often juggling their work, personal, and treatment schedules. Maintaining recovery means finding new ways to live a healthy lifestyle just as other individuals with chronic health conditions must do.  How could an app help with this? Could a time management tool, with daily reminders for doctor, counselor, and treatment appointments help?   

So here is the Challenge…SAMHSA would like the development of a free, opioid recovery focused and user friendly Opioid Recovery Support app available to patients in recovery who are receiving outpatient medication-assisted treatment. Any features, tools, or assets in the app need to be tied to the insights provided, because the insights came from evidence-based practices, which means that they’ve been proven effective through practice and research.

Interested in making a difference? There are already several recovery support, time management, and sobriety helper apps on the market that do some of the things we’ve mentioned above but may not be specific to opioid recovery or address the insights of this challenge. You may want you partner with them to develop a version that meets the requirements of this challenge. Or you can develop a brand new app that responds to the insights and delivers the required features and resources in a robust and user-focused format? Don’t forget to read the Rules and Requirements, because they have important additional information you need in order to participate. Whether you update an existing recovery support app or develop an entirely new one, SAMHSA wants you to submit your solutions!

See the App information (see “REQUIREMENTS” below and the Rules tab for more information).

View full rules

Eligibility

This challenge is open to individuals (legal U.S. residents and citizens at least 18 years of age at the time of entry); teams of eligible individuals; and organizations (up to 100 employees).

See the Rules tab for full eligibility and submission requirements.

Requirements

Content: The submitted App must address the specific insights about what patients receiving outpatient medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder need to maintain their recovery. The app should utilize the assets included in the Opioid Recovery App Challenge Asset file, and specific APIs to address the insights. Providing additional evidence-based content and features that address the specific insights is encouraged but not required.

You may not substantially alter the meaning, intent, or otherwise misrepresent the content provided in the Asset file. The intention of this clause is to ensure that the integrity of the content is maintained.

Audience: Your submission should be developed for patients receiving outpatient medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder. The use cases provided are examples of the audience you are developing the product for, and can be used to guide end-user experience in the app development process. The use cases document should not appear in the app.

Platforms: Your submission must include a software component such as:
• a native modern smartphone app (iOS, Android) and/or
• an HTML5 mobile web application accessible via a mobile browser (Chrome or Safari) on the device.

New and Existing Solutions: Submissions may be newly created or pre-existing products modified to meet the content and requirements of this Challenge.

Supplementary Materials: You must submit a brief demo video of no more than five (5) minutes that demonstrates and explains the product, uploaded to Devpost and YouTube. You must also submit at least one (1) image/screenshot of your working product, and a text description of your product.

Testing: You must make your product available for no charge to judges for evaluation during the judging period.

Availability: A free version of your product must be made available free of cost to the public for at least one (1) calendar year.

INSIGHTS TO BE ADDRESSED IN THE APP

Insight 1. Patients receiving Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) need information about possible side effects and drug interactions in a format that is easy to understand and access.

Required Features:

  • The app must provide information on common side effects that patients receiving Methadone, Buprenorphine, or Naltrexone treatment experience, how to deal with side effects, and when they are expected to subside.
  • The app must include information on drug interactions with Buprenorphine, Methadone, and Naltrexone.
  • The app must provide information on the potential adverse effects of combining Methadone, Buprenorphine, or Naltrexone with Benzodiazepines , Benzodiazepine Analogs or Barbiturates. These side effects include, but are not limited to, decrease in breathing ability and blood pressure as well as death.

Insight 2. Patients receiving MAT need education and psychoeducational materials for opioid recovery support, e.g., time management, parenting skills, effects of drug use on family, etc.

Required Features:

  • The app must provide educational tools and materials including broad and general resources, especially resources that encourage users to discuss content with a recovery coach or clinician, including the resources in the Asset File.

Insight 3. Individuals in MAT need support to reduce risk for relapse, e.g., increase participation in healthy activities, and avoid people, places and things that might trigger drug use.

Required Features:

  • Meeting Location Finder: The app must provide opportunities for users to find mutual aid meetings and peer support groups.

Insight 4. Individuals in MAT need support in relapse prevention such as warning signs, trigger alerts, and motivations for recovery.

Required Features: There are no required features, but developers are encouraged to provide relapse prevention support.

Insight 5. Individuals in MAT maintenance are often juggling their work, personal, and treatment schedules.  

Required Features: There are no required features, but developers are encouraged to provide support for individuals juggling work, personal life, and treatment schedules.

See the Rules tab for full eligibility and submission requirements.

How to enter

Before entering the contest, please review the rules and eligibility requirements by clicking on the Rules tab at the top of this page.


1. Create an account or log in with an existing Devpost account.
2. Click on the Register button to confirm your interest in participating. This step ensures that you will receive important challenge updates.
3. Create your product!
4. Provide a link to a website or app store where your application can be accessed or downloaded free of charge by SAMHSA and the Administrator or provide a free login.
5. Confirm that you have read and agree to the Official Rules, and submit your app by including all of the information and materials specified in the Rules and Regulations section 4. Registration and Submission 4b. Submission.


Questions? Click the Discussions tab to submit a question to SAMHSA about this challenge.

Judges

No avatar 100

Dina Passman
Public Health Advisor, Health Information Technology, SAMHSA

Judging Criteria

  • Quality of Idea
    Includes the degree to which the proposed app can support patient recovery by addressing the required and optional insights, creativity of the idea and innovation of the proposed app to support recovery. See the Rules for complete Judging Criteria
  • Implementation of Idea
    Includes how well the idea was implemented including the user experience, design, and technical functionality. See Rules for complete Judging Criteria
  • Potential Impact
    Includes the patient value and potential impact the application can have for individuals in recovery. See Rules for complete Judging Criteria