Tackling the opioid epidemic

Addiction impacts over 23M people across the socioeconomic spectrum, but few have access to quality, evidence-based treatment programs. Nearly 19M of people who struggle with addiction go untreated each year.

Beyond access, addiction treatment in our healthcare system just isn’t designed for longterm recovery. Our system affords you a 30-day inpatient stay, and, if you’re lucky, you’ll find a good AA program afterward. For those that do receive treatment, the relapse rates were nearly 50%. The outcomes are much poorer for low-income patients.

And then, a beast of its own magnitude: opioids. Devastating millions of families and hundreds of communities across the US. People dropping from overdose in grocery stores and gas stations across the country. Yet, deep stigma is associated with the gold standard of opioid treatment, and so few providers are available to deliver this care.

We looked at several companies looking to drive innovation into the space. Many of the models we found looked to force fit an addiction treatment program into an old, broken payment paradigm, which meant patients still didn’t get the care they needed to successfully recover. Or patients had to self-pay to get a quality program. I had seen enough GoFundMe campaigns, heard enough stories of people taking out second mortgages to fund treatment, and I wanted to see something different.

When I first met with Stephanie Papes, the CEO of Boulder, and then the team soon after, I sensed that they’d build something different. They had a vision for long-term, comprehensive, dignified and patient-centered care, and they wanted to bring opioid addiction treatment to underserved communities in dire need of support. And they deeply understood the system they were building in, and knew where they could push the envelope. This meant finding the right customers and not compromising on the components of care that enabled successful recovery.

Early feedback has come in, and patients love Boulder.

I feel so lucky that Acumen is a part of their journey, and that I have the opportunity to watch a CEO and team with such vision and moral leadership. We captured some of this magic in a recent conversation with the CEO, where we discussed what led her to launch Boulder, despite the payment and regulatory environment, and, most exciting to me, how Boulder is pushing forward a care delivery model and standard of care that may actually work.