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Employer Investments in Digital, Whole-Person Health for Substance Use Disorders

Employers seek to support their employees while normalizing a whole-person approach to substance use disorders (SUD). The response to addiction and the opioid crisis requires a whole-of-society approach, including employers of all sizes. Employers are uniquely positioned to reach employees, their families, and their surrounding communities, in part as employer-sponsored health insurance (ESI) currently provides coverage for approximately 180 million people (or roughly half of the US population).  

The Milken Institute Public Health team conducted mixed-methods research to better understand challenges, barriers to entry, current successes, and methods through which employers can embed evidence-based research and health outcomes into digital health technologies focused on addressing SUD.  

Our research and stakeholder engagement revealed four priority areas in which employers are poised to deploy a whole-person health approach to SUD that encompasses: (1) fostering trust, (2) reducing stigma, (3) building awareness and improving education, and (4) increasing availability and access to services. Recognizing that employers are in different stages of development and change, this report identifies priority areas, insights, and actions to consider at varying stages (i.e., early, mid, and advanced) in conjunction with the incorporation of digital health technologies as part of broader employer efforts.