Smartphone App Aimed at Prevention of Substance Use Disorder

CHESS Health Receives $1.5 Million Grant to Enhance eIntervention with more SBIRT Functionality Smartphone App Aimed at Prevention of Substance Use Disorder CHESS Health, the leading provider of comprehensive addiction management technology, has received a fasttrack grant of $1.5 million from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The goal of the grant, identified as 1R44DA050214, is to improve the rate at which those at risk of substance use disorder (SUD), or who require SUD treatment, actually follow through on recommendations following screening in a primary care setting.

CHESS Health’s innovative eIntervention solution, launched in 2019, is currently deployed at dozens of medical and addiction providers nationwide, ranging from hospitals to MAT clinics to full-continuum behavioral health providers. The web-based solution automates referrals for treatment and wrap-around services through closed-loop provider-to-provider communications. In addition, eIntervention uniquely engages the patient throughout the transition of care through its companion Envoy app, which offers the patient real-time referral details, informative and motivating video content, and secure messaging with their providers.

The NIDA grant will fund the enhancement of the Envoy app to deliver targeted interventions to individuals reporting risky use of substances, but who have not yet developed full-onset SUD requiring treatment. Kathleen Carroll, PhD, the Albert E Kent Professor of Psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine, will lead a panel of SBIRT experts in designing the preventative interventions to be added to the Envoy app. SBIRT is the clinical practice of screening for substance use, brief intervention and referral to treatment.

In order to streamline the administrative process, the grant is presented in two phases. For both phases, CHESS Health will collaborate with Cherry Health, the largest Federally Qualified Health Center in Michigan. In Phase 1, Cherry Health will conduct a usability trial of the Envoy app for patients referred to treatment for substance use disorder. In Phase 2, Cherry Health will conduct a randomized clinical trial of the effectiveness of the Envoy app in increasing successful referrals to treatment and in reducing substance use among those reporting risky use but not requiring treatment.

“This NIDA grant will enable us to add prevention functionality to our current addiction treatment technology platform, which already includes smartphone-delivered evidence-based treatment and recovery support, digital cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and referral to treatment,” says Hans Morefield, chief executive officer of CHESS Health. “At CHESS, addressing the personal and societal crisis of addiction is foremost on our minds – preventing addiction is the next frontier.”

Cherry Health’s interest in the proposal was spurred by its commitment to fully integrate health services with substance use disorders and mental illness into its primary care mission as a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC).

“SBIRT is a terrific practice, but it is not enough when it comes to improving patient adherence to treatment referrals,” says Leslie Pelkey, MD, and chief medical officer of Cherry Health. “That’s why we’re very interested in this initiative to improve health outcomes, and the overall patient experience by making SBIRT actionable.”

“We have two goals with this grant,” explained Dr. Carroll. “We want to double the current rate of follow-up specialty SUD care from approximately 17 percent to an achieved rate of at least 35 percent, and we want to measure a reduction in substance use among all patients that get the Envoy app. If we achieve these goals, this effort will be an important milestone in applying technology to the prevention of addiction.”

About CHESS Health

CHESS Health creates innovative solutions designed at the intersection of science, technology and recovery. Founded by nationally recognized substance abuse researcher Dr. Dave Gustafson, CHESS developed ACHESS, the leading evidence-based relapse prevention technology. By integrating A-CHESS into treatment plans, providers can best support those in recovery with access to predictive relapse analytics, conditionspecific content and access to live support, which reduces relapse by 50% while decreasing costs and saving lives. The recent addition of eReferral capability prior to treatment, and an eTherapy functionality during treatment, creates an industry-leading technology platform to support the full continuum of care. CHESS Health has received recognition from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP), the Journal of Substance Abuse, and the Surgeon General. For more information, visit www.chess.health.

About Cherry Health

Cherry Health is an independent, non-profit Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) with a primary focus of providing high quality health services to those who have little or no access to health care, regardless of income or insurance status. Services provided by Cherry Health include primary care, women’s health, pediatrics, dental, vision, behavioral health, mental health, correctional health, five school-based health centers and employee assistance for employers. Cherry Health provides services to all individuals, with a slide fee scale based on income and family size is available to those with or without insurance. Medicaid and Healthy Michigan are accepted, as are many other insurances. Established in 1988, Cherry Health is the largest FQHC in the State of Michigan serving Barry, Eaton, Kent, Montcalm, Muskegon, Ottawa and Wayne counties. Providing integrated health care services at more than 20 locations throughout Michigan, Cherry Health has approximately 900 employees and a network of over 60 physicians and mid-level providers specializing in primary care/family medicine, pediatrics, internal medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, optometry, oral health, behavioral health and substance use disorders. Additionally, Cherry Health runs a school linked program active in 70 public schools offering both vision and dental care. Cherry Health hosts about 66,000 annual health check-up visits per year, of which about 37,000 are patients 18 and over. For more information, visit cherryhealth.org.