What does your business do? And what is unique about your health technology intervention?
Workit Health is the only robust and stand-alone telemedicine provider offering online therapy and FDA-approved medication for people struggling with substance use disorders. Although we’re now facing a pandemic, before this health emergency, another one was ongoing: the overdose epidemic. Overdose is a leading cause of death in the United States, yet most traditional treatment options don’t offer evidence-based practices. Some facilities refuse to accept individuals who are on methadone or buprenorphine, FDA-approved medication for opioid use disorder. As people in recovery, my Co-Founder Robin and I knew that we deserved better.
How do you help people with the disease of addiction or in response to mental health needs?
Only 10 percent of people who have a substance use disorder receive treatment. Many of them aren’t able to leave their families or jobs for a traditional brick-and-mortar treatment option. Workit Health brings therapeutic courses and expert clinical care to people in their homes, via our patient-focused digital program. By meeting people where they are, we’re eliminating the barriers to care that many people struggle to overcome like transportation or time off of work for clinical appointments.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your work?
COVID-19 disproportionately affects people who use drugs and the recovery community. People seeking help often rely on 12-step meetings or the emergency department as a foot in the door to treatment. We’re talking to people who have been shut out of their outpatient programs or are drinking at home in isolation. In the best of times, our virtual programs help people thrive in recovery. In the face of COVID-19, we’re working with health-care organizations to keep people out of the emergency departments, and health plans to ensure that people with substance use disorder have access to evidence-based care, from the safety of home.
What is the biggest challenge as a result of the pandemic?
In the best of times, people seeking addiction treatment face many barriers to care. Now, those barriers can feel daunting, and we’re uniquely prepared to jump in and help. We’re understanding that COVID-19 affects everyone differently, and it touches every part of people’s lives. For some people, the health crisis has spurred them to seek addiction treatment. For others, it’s a reason to not stay in care. This is the first crisis that our staff and patients are all facing together. We’re ensuring our members have access to resources that help them stay healthy both mentally and physically, while also prioritizing the mental health and safety of our own staff.
What else would you like the broader community to know?
We’ve been advocating for telemedicine care for years—we haven’t just popped up Zoom links or telephone counseling. At Workit Health, we’ve seen the efficacy of telemedicine as we’ve built out our stand-alone virtual care program. We offer better outcomes than our brick-and-mortar counterparts for a fraction of the cost, all while allowing our members to receive care from the privacy of home. People shouldn’t have to disrupt their lives to get quality care. COVID-19 has caused governments to remove regulatory barriers, which made telemedicine care less accessible, and we’re advocating for these changes to be permanent. We don’t want to lose anyone to COVID, but we also are tired of losing people to overdose.