We could never have foreseen how the world was going to change back in 2019 when we at AspenRidge were first testing and launching online addiction treatment programs. All we knew then was that there was a clear need for such treatment, even though many clinicians and clients were hesitant to use it.
Fast forward to mid-2020, and online addiction treatment has exploded during the COVID-19 pandemic. Most providers view it as a temporary measure and yearn to get back to in-person treatment. We understand why, as the value of in-person connection is real. However, for many individuals, the value of online treatment is just as real, if not more so.
After launching AspenRidge REACH in late 2019, we’ve seen the value of online addiction treatment, and so have our clients. Specifically, we’ve seen the following benefits:
- Increased access to care
- Reduction in costs
- It generates positive outcomes
- Clients love the experience
Improving access to care
Prior to launching AspenRidge REACH, only about 2.5 million, or almost 43%, of Colorado residents lived within five miles of an in-person outpatient treatment program. Upon starting the program, we brought high quality, evidence-based, dual-diagnosis addiction treatment to about 3.3 million more Coloradans for the first time. That is, more than half the Colorado population did not have easy access to quality addiction treatment and now do through AspenRidge REACH. Rural, under-served communities in the plains, mountains and western slope now have access so long as they have a cell phone or a computer.
Surprisingly, as the American Telehealth Association (ATA) and its members discovered in other healthcare sectors, it’s not just rural but also urban clients that appreciate the improved access to care. Many clients do not have easy access to transportation, or their work requires them to travel, making in-person treatment difficult. These individuals benefit from telehealth services just as much as the rural clients.
Keeping costs down
As an outpatient program, we like to say, “A year at AspenRidge costs less than a month in Malibu.” Moreover, outpatient programming has been shown to be just as or more effective as inpatient rehab. This is just as true for our online programs as our in-person programs. Due to lower overhead costs, telehealth offers excellent value. Our REACH program saves money for clients and insurance companies while providing some of the best value for quality addiction treatment.
It’s not just about immediate cost-savings as well. In fact, the value of quality outpatient programs such as AspenRidge REACH is the money saved for medical care. Data shows that there is a 4x savings on medical care due to evidence-based treatment and an almost 60x lifetime ROI. In fact, we estimate that for the average REACH client, they will save about $60,000 in healthcare costs, and insurance companies will save hundreds of thousands of dollars per person in reduced medical and behavioral health costs over the client’s lifetime.
Generating positive outcomes
To date, AspenRidge REACH has produced some impressive results. Typical in-person outpatient groups result in an average attendance rate of almost 75%. REACH groups average 90% attendance, which is an increase of 20%. This is a noteworthy increase because one can presume that better attendance means better engagement, which should lead to better results.
In fact, we’ve seen better results so far as well. The graduation rate for in-person groups tends to hover around 50-60%, whereas for AspenRidge REACH clients, it has averaged 80% so far. This indicates a 60% increase in graduation rates.
While it’s a small sample size, it’s worth noting that 100% of clients so far have maintained their sobriety through treatment and post-graduation. Our in-person programming maintains an already-impressive sobriety rate of 80% one year after entering treatment.
Great client experience
Client experience and satisfaction drives our work at AspenRidge, as we want all of our clients to become the best version of themselves. In fact, 100% of REACH clients in our first cohort were satisfied with the quality of their experience. We certainly don’t expect perfection moving forward, and we will certainly aim for it. We want all of our clients to feel supported and engaged in a healthy, caring, professional environment.
To highlight the positive responses we’ve received, we’d like to share a few quotes from some of our first clients:
“I enjoyed every bit of it. It was very efficient and friendly.”
“In treating the substance abuse, I learned a lot about the mental health stuff. It was very helpful to understand what was going on with me mentally. In fact, it was the first time I experienced that kind of work in a treatment program.”
“It was extremely convenient for me, as I live two hours from the closest facility. I would not have been able to complete a program otherwise – we don’t have access to programs like AspenRidge where I live.”
“I would not have stayed sober without AspenRidge REACH.”
REACH has exceeded not only client expectations but also our own. The increase in graduation rates alone would have made the program an essential new tool in our arsenal to combat substance use disorder. But the lower costs and increased access to high quality, evidence-based, dual-diagnosis addiction treatment all of Colorado’s 5.7 million makes our online telehealth option an industry gamechanger.