- Guided meditation platform Headspace announced the launch of Headspace Health, a digital medicine subsidiary aimed at delivering prescription meditation tools for physical ailments.
- The new company expects to introduce its meditation app in 2020. Randomized clinical trials on an as-yet undisclosed disease state will begin this summer.
- Headspace has conducted or completed more than 65 evidence-based research studies on the health effects of its meditation platform on conditions including cancer and asthma, and has plans to explore its use in sleep and pain management.
Among the organizations collaborating in its studies are Kaiser Permanente, Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, Harvard University and the UK’s National Health Service. Joe Powers, a long-time veteran of the digital health space who last headed commercialization at John Hopkins inHealth, will serve as managing director of the new subsidiary.
Research has shown the potential health benefits of meditation. A 2016 study from Wake Forest School of Medicine and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center identified a non-opioid pain pathway in the brain that is triggered when people practice mindful meditation.
Developing treatments that reduce the need for opioids could help to curb the tide in opioid abuse and misuse. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioids contributed to 42,249 deaths in 2016. The rate of overdose deaths involving prescription opioids increased by 10.6% from 2015 to 2016.
At least one health-oriented meditation app has also been integrated into Apple’s HealthKit software. Blues payer Health Care Service Corporation began offering the app, known as Centered, in 2014 to track mindfulness and meditation along with activity and diet in an effort to reduce stress.