Interview with Lisa McLaughlin of Workit Health

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Lisa McLaughlin is a social entrepreneur and the Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Workit Health, a telehealth addiction care company creating an entire new channel for reducing drinking and drug use backed by the National Science Foundation. She is the recipient of the TechWeek Detroit Technology Woman of the Year award for 2017. Lisa serves as a Desai Accelerator Mentor for early stage technology companies and as an advisor to a number of biotech startups. Read her full bio.

PMWC 2018 Michigan taking place June 6-7, 2018.

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Q&A with Lisa McLaughlin

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[et_pb_accordion_item title=”Q: What need is Workit Health addressing? “]

A: Drug overdoses killed more Americans last year than were lost during the entire Vietnam War (69,000). Workit Health provides a rapid access opioid program that ensures that patients all over the country in need of immediate access to care for their addictive behaviors can acquire low-cost evidence-based treatment and recover from the comfort of their own homes through telehealth. We meet patients where they are using a harm reduction model that is science-based but has formerly been under-delivered due to the research to practice divide.

[/et_pb_accordion_item][et_pb_accordion_item title=”Q: What are the products and/or services Workit Health offers/develops to address this need? What makes Workit Health unique?”]

A: Workit Health provides an integrated wrap-around program for individuals struggling with opioid use, utilizing a hybrid in-person / telehealth model of care. In addition to receiving Medication-Assisted Treatment with buprenorphine, patients receive holistic intensive outpatient care through a comprehensive online program credentialed by the Joint Commission. We are a next generation digital medicine clinic that empowers patients to recover on their terms. We differentiate as the only patient-led licensed telehealth program that uses an innovative home-based induction model to treat patients with Opioid Use Disorder.

[/et_pb_accordion_item][et_pb_accordion_item title=”Q: What is your role at Workit Health and what excites you about your work?”]

A: I spearhead business development and clinical partnerships at Workit Health. It’s incredible to get the opportunity to see employers empower themselves to get ahead of rampant addiction levels across the nation and provide proactive care to their workforce by rolling out the Workit program. We’re able to see incredible transformations to workplace culture when employers offer support for recovery.

Now that we’re establishing claims-based care for the Workit Program through partnerships with health care plans, it’s thrilling to be instrumental in ensuring that patients who need care for addiction can access Workit through a google search and have the program reimbursed by their existing coverage. We are entering an era of open recovery where the plagues of treatment center deserts and waitlists are quickly becoming obsolete. We’ve been losing so many for so long to programs that don’t meet patients where they are with a harm reduction approach. Its deeply gratifying to be part of the solution, especially because we are a team of patients-as-designers who have lived through these gaps in care personally and plodded through to successful recovery in treatment cohorts where our friends have not been as lucky.

[/et_pb_accordion_item][et_pb_accordion_item title=”Q: When thinking about Workit Health and the domain Workit Health is working in, what are some of the recent breakthroughs that are propelling the field forward and how will they impact healthcare?”]

A: The opioid epidemic has forced the recovery field to look hard at longstanding community based care models (traditional outpatient, 12 step) that have been effective for some cases but aren’t enough to constitute a comprehensive response to a public health crisis that’s filling morgues to capacity and flooding the foster care system. This has led to nationwide efforts to get physicians trained and waivered across a variety of medical specialties to provide Medication-Assisted Treatment to patients in primary and urgent care settings. Emergency-room initiated treatment models are emerging that are meeting patients in place and getting them started on a program of recovery.

[/et_pb_accordion_item][et_pb_accordion_item title=”Q: What are the short-term challenges that Workit Health and its peers are facing?”]

A: There is a fair amount of fear and misunderstanding about which conditions are a suitable fit for telehealth and home-based care. In the recovery world, exorbitantly priced inpatient settings have dominated the landscape. There is a dominant mindset that this is a key component of competent care for addiction. This has often led to an unfortunate trend where patients fall off a cliff when they return to their community because their recovery supports and sober allies are in another state.

Additionally, many larger players in the field mistake digital therapeutics for “apps” that are a “nice to have” supplemental therapy or educational support. As clinicians running full scale comprehensive programs through these platforms, we have our work cut out for us in educating partners and the broader medical community on the robust literature supporting the fidelity of these programs for behavioral healthcare. We are now running full clinics from mobile devices and there are new regulatory landscapes that come with that sea change.

[/et_pb_accordion_item][et_pb_accordion_item title=”Q: Is there anything else you would like to share with the PMWC audience? “]

A: I think it’s important for individuals to understand that we all have a role to play in ending the opioid epidemic. In order for patient-centered telehealth models like the Workit Program to be accessible at scale we need a lot of early adopters and evangelists to support the underlying optimism that exists in the market for evidence-based companies to get their platforms to the patients that need them. We now have refined pathways and processes for getting these innovations evaluated through peer-review studies and FDA clearance. These innovative platforms can help us achieve consistent, safe, and affordable clinical outcomes at scale.


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