The State of Medicine
Things are rarely one size fits all, particularly when it comes to our health. What works for some may not work for others, and doctors often prescribe pills as a cure-all without looking at a patient’s individual needs. As the opioid epidemic continues to ravage the country, could the future of healthcare be at the intersection of cannabis and personalized medicine?
I recently chatted with Marshall Rutman of Resolve Digital Health, a Canadian company that has worked with medical professionals and advisory boards to create the Breeze Smart Inhaler. The device contains Smart Pods™, single-use pods with an exact dosage of cannabis—sort of like a Keurig for medicine. What separates this product from other inhalers is the built-in app, and you don’t need a smartphone to operate it—perfect for older folks who may not want to purchase a phone solely to utilize a medical device.
The Power of Data
Rutman says Resolve has two main goals with the Breeze Smart Inhaler: “How do we prove the experience of medical cannabis patients, and how do we get patients off opioids.” Data can provide numbers for what is typically a subjective experience, and patients today are prescribed some fairly scary drugs post-surgery. For Rutman, the “most exciting possibility” for Resolve is to help stop the opioid crisis, and to “tear down obstacles people have surrounding cannabis.”
The device features the team is most excited about are the personalization options and the ability to share user data. If a user’s pain level varies from, say, a level two to a level eight, the device will alert users to exactly how often they should dose (as well as the dosage, the strain, etc.) The app learns about you, your very specific needs and symptoms, and adjusts accordingly. It asks your pain level before dosing, and begins to understand your patterns and behavior. If the patient so chooses, they can share that data with their doctor or caregiver, optimizing the healthcare process.
Rutman emphasized that your personal information will never be shared—“Whatever we do, we’re stripping out personal info,” he told me. That said, sharing your data findings can help the medical and cannabis community at large. “Once we have the info,” Rutman explains, “people with similar conditions and variables—we can share that with the medical community, as well as growers and processers: ‘Hey, we noticed this.’” That data can help patients suffering from the same symptoms key in on certain strains, or allow growers to better isolate certain cannabinoids and grow more of a strain patients found helpful.
The Future of Resolve
The product hasn’t launched yet, but will be available in the United States and Canada soon. Resolve worked with a California test group of about 50 patients from a wide variety of ages, backgrounds and ailments during beta testing. This data isn’t a miracle cure, however. As predicted, even patients with similar symptoms reacted differently to various strains and dosages. No two people could ever have an identical reaction to the same dosage and strain; depending on body fat percentage, how much sleep you’ve gotten and even how hydrated you are, your cannabis consumption (and how your body responds) is entirely unique.
The Breeze Smart Inhaler is currently aimed at medical patients, but the sky is the limit for recreational and less-debilitating medical needs. “We’re serving medical needs currently,” reveals Rutman, “because our product is unique—it solves the problems surrounding smoking. ‘What do I take?’ ‘How much do I take?’ The machine learning understands how you deal with particular strains and adjusts.” The next step, then, is wellness. “If you had social anxiety, for example—not so much that you’d need a prescription from a doctor—but, this product could help you.”
Will Big Pharma Take Cues from Cannabis?
As more medical-focused cannabis products launch, fears about intervention or exploitation from Big Pharma are understandable. Rutman doesn’t fear Big Pharma, however—he hopes they learn from Resolve. “My hope is that the work we’re doing reaches beyond cannabis,” he states. Personalized medicine, in his opinion, is happening “too slowly,” and he feels their product could “open Big Pharma’s eyes to the value of personalizing medicine. Everyone benefits.”
The medical community can’t continue its devastating trend of unnecessary prescriptions. We’re all unique, our pain and healing is unique; we need personalized health plans, not pain meds that keep us numb and create addictions. This product (and others like it) will add a level of control and individuality to the healing experience, and we hope Big Pharma will take note of what Resolve hopes to prove: that everyone needs personalized healthcare.