Breaking the Chronic Pain Cycle


We would like to share the story behind Scott Zhang and Syam Palakurthy’s innovation. Scott and Syam built Itsy as a response to the growing Opioid Crisis, driven by chronic pain.

Scott is a product-focused software engineer. His experiences include working as an early engineer at both Blend and Medisas. Furthermore, he took part in the 9th cohort of the Reid Hoffman backed incubator, Entrepreneurs First.
Syam is an entrepreneur and product manager who has spent most of his career immersed in digital healthcare after swearing he’d never work in healthcare. Before starting SamaCare, he worked at ClearCost Health and Bain & Company.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends CBT for Chronic Pain as a first-line therapy: an intervention to be tried before turning to potentially dangerous drugs or risky procedures. Unfortunately, due to shortages of mental health professionals and other similar providers, the current practice of chronic pain management rarely uses CBT or other low-risk, high-evidence interventions as the first-line therapies they ought to be.
Scott and Syam aim to change that with scalable solutions to help patients, healthcare providers, and other stakeholders better manage chronic pain. Itsy is a proof of concept of a way to deliver CBT treatments to chronic pain patients via a chatbot UI.