Groups offers a differentiated clinical model that leverages the benefits of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) in conjunction with high quality group counseling -- with the goal of building a supportive community that helps members solve the underlying issues that are often associated with opioid addiction. By removing a variety of barriers, including social, behavioral and economic factors, their model helps members find and maintain long-term recovery.
While the isolating effects of the pandemic have compounded on the challenges faced by individuals living with opioid addiction, Groups' members have adjusted well to virtual treatment through their telehealth platform where all 6,000 members engage with their counselors and physicians each week. In direct comparison to the outcomes achieved through face-to-face treatment, including key metrics of retention, attendance and abstinence from illicit opioids, these measures have remained consistent.
"Back in March, in just a single week and with great uncertainty, our team pivoted to deliver our model virtually in order to keep our members and staff safe," said Colleen Nicewicz, CEO of Groups Recover Together. "What we've learned is that offering virtual treatment as an option can only further advance our mission to expand access to affordable, high quality treatment for those struggling with opioid addiction."
The findings, which are posted in Groups' newly released whitepaper, look at five months of encounter data after the onset of the pandemic - during which time the company transitioned to virtual care - compared to the five months prior when the company was serving members face-to-face in one of their 60+ physical locations across the country.
The results are as follows:
- Attendance - Groups saw no change in attendance rates, maintaining an industry-leading 83% attendance rate (members attending their weekly counseling sessions).
- Toxicology screens - In both telemedicine and in-person treatment cohorts, over 90% of toxicology tests were negative for illicit opioids and positive for buprenorphine.
- Member retention - Groups saw no discernible difference in the percentage of members who continue treatment after 1 month (93%), 2 months (76%) and 3 months (71%).
- Member experience - 87% of members felt as or more supported in Groups' all-virtual treatment model.
- Use of devices - Technology did not appear to be a barrier to receiving care in an all-virtual setting with 87% joining via their smartphone.
"The circumstances around COVID-19 means we have to be more flexible with our treatment options and work harder to meet individuals where they are," said Dr. Jacob "Gus" Crothers, National Medical Director at Groups. "This data shows that we can effectively deliver our care model, while keeping our members safely engaged in treatment."
These findings come during a time when the pandemic has increased the prevalence of opioid abuse and has intensified the risk factors associated with increased drug use -- such as isolation, economic insecurity, and worsening mental health. In fact, in the months since the pandemic started spreading in the U.S., more than 40 states have seen an increase in overdoses, according to the American Medical Association. This comes on the heels of 2019, which was the worst year on record for overdose deaths in the U.S., with 72,000 Americans succumbing to their drug use.
Groups currently serves more than 6,000 members across eight states in the U.S and plans to expand into three additional states by the end of 2020.
About Groups Recover Together:
Groups Recover Together delivers opioid addiction recovery services that are proven to help individuals get their lives back on track. Groups provides fast, easy access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT), using Suboxone (buprenorphine), as well as a program designed to build a sense of community and accountability. In addition, members gain access to services through Groups' holistic care model, which is backed by the belief that long-term recovery from opioids is tied to social, behavioral and economic factors that aren't typically addressed in traditional treatment models. Learn more at joingroups.com or follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube.
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