The CHESS Health story is rooted in the pioneering work of Dave Gustafson, PhD, the founder and director of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Health Enhancement Systems Studies, a co-founder of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, and a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He is nationally recognized in the field of addiction treatment.
Improving the healthcare patient experience has been a lifelong focus for Dr. Gustafson:
“People suffer from injury and disease. They also suffer from poorly-designed health care systems. We want to eliminate that second type of suffering. No one should have to suffer twice.”
Dr. Gustafson envisioned a smartphone app that could support an individual during and after treatment, and reduce the incidence and severity of relapse. With a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Dr. Gustafson developed the original A-CHESS app in 2011 and conducted a three-year randomized clinical study with treatment centers in Illinois and Massachusetts.
The study results were published in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) Psychiatry in 2014, with the app’s effectiveness spearheading more studies and implementations—one of which was a project involving veterans in Western New York. This study connected Dr. Gustafson with Christopher Wilkins, who made it his mission to introduce the technology to every patient in addiction treatment. Chris Wilkins launched CHESS Health to bring A-CHESS to market.
In 2016, Dr. Gustafson recruited John Holton, the founder of three healthcare technology companies, to become Chairman and lead CHESS Health’s first major investment round. Late in 2017, following a year of rapid customer expansion—including the addition of key provider and health plan customers, and international deployments—Hans Morefield took the reins as CEO to bring operational leadership, expand the A-CHESS platform, and further the mission of facilitating lasting recovery for all.