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Hopkins researchers to study whether financial rewards, video monitoring can help opioid addiction treatment

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have been awarded $2.1 million by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study whether paying patients to take their medicine and tracking their doses with video software can help patients stick with their treatment for opioid addiction.

The three-year grant will allow researchers to study whether financial rewards paired with a mobile app that allows video monitoring, developed by a Baltimore-based health technology startup, can improve adherence to prescriptions among those addicted to opioids such as heroin.


Patients can record videos of themselves taking their medication with the app, developed by emocha Mobile Health Inc., located in Hopkins' FastForward incubator in East Baltimore. The emocha app also allows patients to report side effects. And doctors and other providers can use the app to assess patient data and reach out to patients.

Patients will receive a financial incentive for each dose they take.


Participants in the study will record themselves each day for 24 weeks as they take buprenorphine, a medication that treats opioid-use disorder. Researchers will then verify each dose and engage with patients to encourage them to adhere to their prescriptions.

Emocha’s video monitoring software provides a virtual version of directly observed therapy, which, without a mobile app, requires patients to visit a clinic for each dose of medication.

August Holtyn, an assistant professor at Hopkins’ School of Medicine, will head the study along with Kenneth Silverman, a professor and director of the Center for Learning and Health at Hopkins.

Emocha is also partnering with researchers at the University of Washington and Boston Medical Center to conduct similar trials.

The company’s application was built on technology developed at Johns Hopkins in 2008 as a tool for global clinical health research. Co-founders Sebastian Seiguer and Morad Elmi licensed the technology in 2013.