Ria Health launches platform to manage alcohol use disorders

Alcohol use disorder, sometimes known as alcoholism, continues to be a significant drain on society. People die because they try to drive while under the influence of alcohol, work days are missed when people suffer from alcohol abuse, and the disease can tear families and organizations apart. Unfortunately, combating AUD has proven difficult, as providing services to those affected is difficult and sometimes impossible.

But there are treatments for AUD that have been proven to work. The National Institutes of Health explains that AUD is a medical condition that can be treated through medication, behavioral groups, and peer support groups. But finding the right treatment can be problematic for many people. Reaching these people is the mission of companies like Ria Health.

“RIA Health is a national medical practice that essentially has a mission to help people change their relationship with alcohol,” explained Tom Nix, CEO of Ria Health, “and we do that by helping people by providing an evidence-based, comprehensive program that combines a medically managed approach with a supportive coaching approach.”

Nix said the inclusion of their technology is designed to make their AUD treatments more accessible, rather than trying to replace humans with machines. “When we started this mission in 2017, we looked at technology not to replace the human interaction that would lead to really powerful outcomes for people, but to help enable people to get this treatment program delivered on a private way that’s for sure, and that keeps them engaged and going forward,” Nix said.

Innovative technology

The technology that Ria Health provides consists of an online telehealth platform, a smartphone app, and a Bluetooth-equipped wearer that connects to the phone app. When the breathalyzer is used, it reports the user’s blood alcohol level on the phone app, where it is available to the user as well as Ria Health consultants.

Ria Health recently received a $2 million grant from the NIH for clinical trials to evaluate the effectiveness of their program. Ria Health worked with the Stanford Prevention Research Center to conduct the clinical trial.

The clinical trial comes at an opportune time. According to Ria Health, treatment for AUD has declined in recent years, starting before the Covid-19 pandemic, reaching the point where in 2020 only seven percent of people with AUD were receiving treatment. To make matters worse, with the onset of Covid-19, alcohol consumption has increased dramatically.

In addition to the phone app, the online telehealth program includes a HIPAA-compliant video portal and access to health care team members such as a psychiatrist, addiction medicine physician, or certified addiction counselor.

The app also provides access to support groups. “The other part of the app that’s really interesting is that we’re collecting opportunities for people to participate in anonymous groups that happen every day,” Nix said. The application may also include people such as family members to help the patient with their treatment.

The NIH grant will help Ria Health advance its research. “The grant will help us further develop more innovative aspects of our technology to drive more meaningful engagement,” Nix said. “The simple way to look at how we can provide the best possible opportunities for quality outcomes for our patients is to maintain a narrow and deep focus, but also continually focus on improving the patient engagement experience,” Nix said.

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