Addiction is not always a highly targeted market to disrupt in the startup world, but one Ann Arbor based tech startup is changing the way recovery works
Workit Health announced this week a raise of $1.1 Million to re-imagine recovery. The startup provides a 90-day online program that pairs one-on-one support from professional counselors with interactive online content. The round of funding includes additional funding from Invest Detroit Ventures’ First Step Fund, Wakestream Ventures (venture arm spun out of Start Garden), Impact Engine, and strategic angel investors to help them scale their customer base.
Addiction is a deep and difficult behavior to address. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in 2014 alone over 20 million Americans struggled with Substance Use Disorders (SUD) and more than 60 million others engaged in risky patterns of use with drugs. More than 90% are not receiving adequate treatment.
Workit Health cofounders Lisa McLaughlin and Robin McIntosh have personal experience with addiction and designed Workit to reinvent the way evidence-based treatments are delivered using technology to offer more effective, accessible, and affordable solutions.
Below is more insight into their new product and how it helps break the cycle of addiction.
What sort of addictions is it best used for? At what point would an addict come to use your program?
Our core focus is on alcohol and drugs but we address a wide range of co-occurring addictive behaviors such as eating disorders and gambling. Workit delivers each member a unique program based on their initial consultation with us which is tailored with continuing inputs from their coach. As members of the recovery community, we know these conditions can’t be tackled in isolation with a “one size fits all” approach.
Do you recommend in person therapy / groups, or replace those with this online program? How does it fit in comparison and alongside traditional recovery programs?
We are complementary to a wide range of programs, including community support groups and in-person therapy programs. Individual therapists and clinicians often refer individuals to the Workit Program and monitor members’ progress, if the members opt to share their data. To date we have resonated with individuals that struggled to get to these face to face services for a variety of reasons, from inconvenience to concerns over privacy to concerns that their addictions weren’t “bad enough” to need them.
With regards to the Workit community, we have two primary forms of social support in the Workit Program. The first is our coaching component, where individuals are matched to a qualified counselor who supports their progress through our program and often has been on their own recovery journey. We also have a social forum within the platform where individual users share their experiences with the wider Workit community as they progress through their path.
Do you see this as something anyone can access? Or those who have it as a benefit from an employer?
We’re definitely planning to provide open access to the program to the broader public. Our direct to consumer release in on the near horizon and we are ultimately aiming to have the program covered by insurance, which would enable broad coverage of the program for a wide range of individuals.
How do you hope to grow over the next few years?
We plan to develop more immersive versions of our programs with more comprehensive care teams that include psychiatrists and nutritionists, enabling access to comprehensive rehab services from home.
Do you have any other updates or news to share?
Our primary growth areas over the next year are in the clinical, engineering, and sales realms. We are always looking to expand our affiliate network of social workers and will have a short-team need for sales associates to work with us to build out our network in different regions. We have an office in downtown Ann Arbor in the Kerrytown area and are active in local meetups and networks.
On the strategic partnerships side, we are looking to partner with Michigan employers in the manufacturing, hospitality, and health systems sectors that are interested in rolling out the Workit Program this Fall.