BALTIMORE, MD (May 6, 2020) 

emocha has announced the launch of a new program with Seattle, WA-based Evergreen Treatment Services (ETS) to support patients with opioid use disorder who take methadone. These patients are at heightened risk due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which limited access to services delivered in-person at clinics. Patients who participate will use emocha’s video Directly Observed Therapy (DOT) platform on days they are not scheduled to be in the clinic, supported by their care team and counselors. “Innovative services like video Directly Observed Therapy are exceptionally important in this time of crisis, to protect patients and clinical workers while still ensuring high rates of adherence,” emocha CEO Sebastian Seiguer says.

Across the country, over 1,250 opioid treatment programs (OTP) dispense methadone to more than 350,000 people. OTPs are highly regulated, often requiring patients to show up six days a week to receive and take their medication with a dispensing nurse observing. Methadone has been used for decades to manage opioid addiction by reducing cravings and the effects of withdrawal, and by blocking the effects of opioids. Treatment programs such as ETS  provide medication-assisted treatment (MAT) with a combination of comprehensive support services including counseling, drug screens, and medical monitoring with medication. This is the gold-standard of opioid use treatment.

Adherence is crucial to the success of MAT and to the safety of the patient; COVID-19 is a challenge for both objectives. If an individual misses a daily dose, they can begin to experience withdrawal and cravings, are more likely to relapse, and could be at risk of overdose: either from an illicit drug or the methadone itself. Supervision in the form of Directly Observed Therapy (DOT) ensures that individuals take their methadone as prescribed and in the correct dose, and prevents diversion into the illicit drug market and overdose. emocha scales Directly Observed Therapy with video technology and human engagement, securing high rates of adherence comparable to in-person DOT. In a recently presented study, a population of Hepatitis C patients who use drugs achieved 98% medication adherence with emocha.

“Innovative services like video Directly Observed Therapy are exceptionally important in this time of crisis, to protect patients and clinical workers while still ensuring high rates of adherence,” emocha CEO Sebastian Seiguer says.

The COVID-19 pandemic threatens the health and safety of those who use OTPs like ETS for MAT. Individuals must decide either to go into the clinic, risking infection from centers that see up to thousands of patients each day or miss their daily doses and face the attendant risks. In light of this crisis, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) issued guidance allowing OTPs to give stable patients a 28-day take-home supply of medication for opioid use disorder, and a 14-day supply for patients who are less stable if the OTP approves.

Such accommodations are crucial for safeguarding individuals prescribed methadone, but adherence remains critical to the medication’s success and patient safety. “Our goal is to protect our patients’ safety while continuing to provide high quality care, and emocha’s platform will enable us to do just that,” says ETS Director of Clinical Services Sean Soth.

Using emocha’s video Directly Observed Therapy is designed to help support patients with continued high medication adherence, and enable them to continue engagement with their healthcare professionals during this pandemic. emocha’s technology will protect both Evergreen’s patients and providers from Covid-19 risks, as patients continue to receive much-needed treatment.

About emocha Mobile Health

emocha empowers patients to take every dose of medication through video technology and scalable human engagement. Patients use a smartphone application to report side effects, communicate with providers, and video record themselves taking medication at every dose. Providers or emocha’s clinician-led Adherence Solutions team use a secure web portal to assess adherence and engage with patients. The platform is being used by public health departments, hospitals, health centers, and managed care organizations across the globe to radically improve medication adherence for patients with diabetes, tuberculosis, opioid use disorder, asthma, COPD, hepatitis C, and other chronic and infectious diseases. Learn more at www.emocha.com.

About Evergreen Treatment Services

Evergreen Treatment Services is a private, 501(c)(3) nonprofit network of clinics with a national and regional reputation for excellence that has been delivering evidence-based substance use disorder and social services in western Washington since 1973. Their interdisciplinary team includes clinicians with advanced degrees in medicine, psychiatry, nursing, psychology, social work, counseling and acupuncture. ETS uses a comprehensive approach to treatment which combines medication assisted treatment with wraparound services such as medical monitoring, counseling, and drug screens.