Madison-area companies are finding ways to drive down the number of opioid prescriptions while overdoses are on the rise statewide.

Kiio is a business with a digital therapeutic system for managing back pain. CEO Dave Grandin, speaking at a Wisconsin Technology Council discussion held in Madison yesterday, said Kiio is helping employers save money on their health plans while improving outcomes for patients.

In a recent partner study with Quartz, Kiio brought in volunteer patients and split them between one group using the Kiio platform and another without it.

“We really were looking for what’s happening with their pain over time,” Grandin said. “We found great results for that. We looked in their claims data to see what was happening with procedures and processes… We also looked at what’s going on with opioids.”

He says Kiio users had a 78 percent reduction in opioid prescriptions, compared to 2 percent for the non-Kiio users.

Tim Bartholow, chief medical officer of Madison insurance company WEA Trust, says the opioid epidemic is “touching our communities in ways we can actually impact.”

He pointed to Kiio’s system as one solution relied on by WEA Trust.He also highlighted other strategies pursued with some success. The insurer has been testing a method where first-time opioid patients get one week of medicine, rather than an entire month as is sometimes the case. Refills are then dispensed on a case-by-case basis, often after a conversation on the dangers of opioids.

That strategy led to a 27 percent reduction in pills delivered to the company’s 105,000 members, Bartholow said. Read the full story here.