Portland startup aims to treat opioid addiction with tech as it raises $10.5M and partners with Premera – GeekWire

Boulder founder and CEO Stephanie Papes, left, within the startup’s workplaces in Portland. (Boulder Photograph)

In taking up the opioid epidemic, one of many largest challenges in U.S. well being care at the moment, Stephanie Papes is dealing with her personal problem — constructing each a well being care service and a tech startup.

She’s succeeding up to now with Boulder, a Portland-based health-tech firm that lately raised $10.5 million and inked a partnership with Premera Blue Cross.

Stephanie Papes. (Boulder Photograph)

Began in 2017, Boulder launched in Oregon about 9 months in the past, and commenced treating 100 sufferers with its full-service scientific mannequin and the telemedicine that helps it. Boulder is an app-based dependancy remedy program by which these struggling opioid use dysfunction (OUD) can keep away from visits to brick-and-mortar clinics and as an alternative get care and assist when and the place they want it with the assistance of a digital platform.

Papes, the founder and CEO, was a Forbes 30 underneath 30 honoree in well being care in 2019 who relocated to Portland after seven years in New York. Boulder is using physicians, nurse practitioners, peer restoration coaches and care advocates whereas additionally constructing out product, design and engineering groups.

The Substance Abuse and Psychological Well being Companies Administration reported that an estimated 10.three million Individuals aged 12 and older misused opioids in 2018, together with 9.9 million prescription ache reliever abusers and 808,000 heroin customers. Papes sees Boulder as a solution to attain extra of these individuals.

“Brick-and-mortar services are nonetheless treating fewer than 10,000 sufferers,” Papes stated. “We actually assume we are able to attain a whole lot of hundreds. That’s the one manner we are able to make a dent [in the epidemic] and expertise is the one manner we are able to try this.”

Boulder’s aim by means of its new contract with Premera is to succeed in 2 million extra individuals within the Pacific Northwest, slicing prices and enhancing the affected person expertise and outcomes in Oregon, Washington and Alaska. Nationwide enlargement is the hope down the highway.

The Boulder app is designed to attach sufferers to care the place they’re, quite than requiring clinic visits. (Boulder Photograph)

Boulder’s care suppliers prescribe buprenorphine, described by American Habit Facilities as a “partial opioid agonist,” which is mixed with naloxone, a medicine used to dam the consequences of opioids, within the drug Suboxone. Buprenorphine binds to receptors within the mind and prompts them solely barely, offering reduction from withdrawal signs whereas the naloxone blocks the opioid’s impact, conserving the physique from experiencing any type of excessive.

Papes known as buprenorphine the mainstay of medicine remedy at Boulder, including that it’s “extremely efficient and secure to provoke at dwelling.” She’s pleased with an 85-percent remedy retention fee amongst Boulder sufferers in comparison with an trade common of 30-40 p.c. However she factors to the moralistic stigmatization of dependancy within the U.S. as a serious barrier that also must be overcome.

The work generally is a problem with a tech crew that’s largely new to well being care and a well being care crew that’s new to startup and tech tradition.

“We’re all type of coming collectively, aligned underneath this mission, but it surely’s a reasonably motley crew,” Papes stated of the crew of 35, which incorporates 15 or 18 who work out of workplaces in Portland. “A part of the problem is simply ensuring that we’re actually studying from one another and for the primary time, in some ways, constructing a really blended providers and expertise digital care supplier platform.”

Boulder’s platform permits sufferers to attach with suppliers 24/7 by means of safe video and messaging. Attempting to succeed in the typical affected person with opioid dependancy dysfunction means coping with some who’ve altered mind chemistry, and plenty of who’re coping with chaotic issues of their lives, Papes stated. She marvels on the manner her physicians are constructing nearer relationships with sufferers by being invited into their houses through expertise.

“You’ll be able to see mothers who’ve their youngsters sleeping within the background whereas they’re taking their video visits,” she stated. “So it’s a special kind of intimacy than you’d actually anticipate in a scientific setting, which will be actually, particularly for addictive illness, not a fantastic place to be — very nervousness inducing and stigma pushed.”

Affected person care can begin in a hospital emergency division after an overdose or throughout a go to to a main care doctor. Sufferers create an account and speak to a Boulder specialist the identical day. They’re evaluated and in the event that they’re an excellent candidate for buprenorphine, an e-prescription is shipped to their most well-liked pharmacy.

A “Boulder Field” is mailed to sufferers who enroll in Boulder’s opioid dependancy remedy program. (Boulder Photograph)

A “Boulder Field” is shipped to the affected person containing narcan, the opioid overdose medicine, in addition to oral fluid take a look at kits. These saliva assessments, meant to seize whether or not a affected person is taking their medicine or in the event that they produce other substances that they’re doubtlessly co-ingesting, will be noticed over video and a pay as you go mailer permits samples to be despatched again to a companion lab.

For many who see limitations to screen-based care, Papes is fast to level to the in-person interactions Boulder additionally helps facilitate, together with the work of Kara Nelson, a peer coach lead who based Haven Home in Juneau, Alaska, to assist girls popping out of incarceration.

“All of us at Boulder see Kara as Boulder, she is the corporate,” Papes stated. “Yeah, we’re an app, however we’re additionally the Karas of the world. We’re out in these communities and attempting to attach with individuals the place they reside. … It’s not so simple as, ‘some issues must be in particular person and a few issues ought to be in tech.’ It’s extra of a ‘what can tech do to assist remedy issues for us?’”


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