Workit Health addiction recovery program increases visibility with Blue Cross Blue Shield investment

Workit Health's low-cost telemedicine addiction treatment program will be able to reach more clients than ever before as a result of a recently closed Series A funding round led by Blue Cross Blue Shield Venture Partners (BCBSVP).

 

Founded in 2015 in Oakland, Calif., Workit is a private online service to help people break addictions. The company has a northern office in Ann Arbor, and co-founder Lisa McLaughlin is originally from Michigan.

 

BCBSVP is a corporate venture fund program that invests in startups of strategic value to Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans.

 

"Around one out of every three people in the U.S. is covered by a Blues Plan, so having the credibility of the Blues accelerates our ability to help more people more quickly," says Workit co-founder and co-CEO Robin McIntosh.

 

Workit Health rolled out its Enterprise product for use by large companies' health plans in 2016 and early 2017. But by late 2017, Workit knew it needed to develop a "more robust treatment" to help make headway in the opioid abuse crisis.

 

That resulted in Workit's Clinic product, which requires one in-person visit to a prescribing professional in order for the client to receive the addiction medication buprenorphine. All other services are provided online through a mobile app, however. The client sets up self-directed goals for addiction recovery and then follows a guided curriculum to meet that goal. Throughout the process, the client can text a recovery coach or have a video chat with a clinician.

 

Workit's Clinic product is currently only available in Michigan and California but will become available in all 50 states after Workit completes contracts with various healthcare systems, McIntosh says.

 

McIntosh says the telemedicine approach removes barriers that keep people from achieving recovery. As a result, the Workit program has a retention rate of just over 90 percent, as opposed to 50 percent attrition in traditional addiction treatment programs.

 

She says an intensive outpatient intervention can cost as much as $6,500 a week, and the need to attend outpatient treatment in person every day can be difficult to balance with work and family responsibilities.

 

"With Workit, we don't do anything experimental with our treatment. We use the same gold standard as anyone else does, but all through our mobile app," she says. "So the client has the ability to not leave the house to do a drug test or meet with a doctor, or they can do group therapy from the privacy of their own home."

 

Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township and the project manager of On the Ground Ypsilanti. She has served as innovation and jobs/development news writer for Concentrate since early 2017 and is an occasional contributor to Driven. You may reach her at sarahrigg1@gmail.com.

 

Photo courtesy of Workit Health.

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