Conversations with Ed DeShields - Plans for Worldwide Growth
Ed DeShields is the founder and chief executive officer of Sober Peer, a new mobile health technology platform that helps reach millions of consumers who practice risky drug or alcohol use.
What is Sober Peer’s road map to reach people who need treatment for substance use disorders?
We are working closely with our customers to expand Sober Peer to about 260 recovery facilities throughout the U.S. and Canada this year. Over the next two years we hope to reach to every address there. In 2021, we will enter Europe, Australia. Eurasia and Africa where our customers currently operate 800 treatment locations in 125 countries. So, we’ve got a full schedule ahead.
In addition, we are beginning a pilot program with state government and public health officials across in several states domestically to demonstrate how our platform improves treatment. Most governmental agencies have lost billions of dollars in revenues due to the COVID-19 crisis, yet they still need to fund agencies that provide or facilitate treatment. Sober Peer, using digital simulation technology will help them reach more people for a lower cost while improving outcomes.
How are you addressing the shortage of qualified clinicians to treat substance abuse?
We are communicating with 31,000 licensed professionals to recruit them to join the Sober Peer provider network and offer free behavioral training for peer and recovery coaches. Our goal is to train up to 6,000 professionals and add them to the critical workforce we need to conquer substance use.
Is Sober Peer providing this training?
We have started this process by sponsoring peer and recovery coaches to attend training by the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR). The organization’s CCAR Recovery Coach Academy© is a 5-day intensive online training program that provides counselors with skills needed to help people that enter into or sustain long-term recovery from alcohol or other drugs.
This training program is a key step for these coaches on the road to state certification. This is important because Sober Peer is working with a number of state agencies across the nation and agreed to have coaches ready to serve and provide qualified, professional support.
How is the Sober Peer app helping healthcare providers find new patients?
Our technology helps healthcare providers build community “small groups” to engage and support many different kinds of persons. Especially during the COVID-19 crisis, small groups are an important lifeline for individuals recovering from substance use disorder.
Small groups can be accessed and attended through the Sober Peer mobile app. These digital groups are able to overcome the time, cost, distance and stigma barriers that affect many people struggling with addiction. The groups are designed to meet specific needs and this enables members to share their experiences and provide peer support to others who are dealing with similar issues.
The types of groups vary widely. They can include persons with a specific opioid, drug, or alcohol use disorder; family mem-bers and friends of a person with a SUD; and aftercare for individuals who have completed in-patient treatment. This type of counseling can increase engagement while providing advice that helps each attendee learn and apply ways to avoid destructive behavior.
How can a healthcare provider start a small group?
We allow providers to create and advertise their small groups directly on our platform. Interested persons can search for a group based on course topic, day, time, group size, and several other factors. Groups can be virtual, in-person or a combination and it’s quick and easy to subscribe and get started. Here’s a good example of how a provider can launch their small group practice:
- The provider met with local pastors, family practice physicians, hospital emergency rooms, and employers in their local community and neighboring areas. He provided them a link to Sober Peer share with interested persons. These community leaders shared it with their constituents and let them know that discreet, professional help is available through the app.
- Persons interested can attend an introductory class for free. The group leader or individuals attending the group are able to invite a guest to attend for free by sending a link from the mobile app.
- As part of its marketing program, the provider offers group sessions at a much lower cost than one-on-one counseling. Clients that are most engaged with the group session are offered special pricing for one-on-one counseling. The provider has several communities of care that are growing virally as members share and invite their friends, family and coworkers.
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