We often forget that alcoholism is on the rise with 16M Americans suffering from alcohol use disorder. Traditional methods for treatment are not always convenient nor accessible and they do not integrate technology in any way. Annum Health is a the digitally-powered rehab and treatment solution that is private, accessible, convenient, and engaging. Annum uses modern technology coupled with leading professionals techniques to provide effective treatment.
AlleyWatch spoke with CEO and cofounder Michael Laskoff about the startup, its mission, and how an Atlantic article inspired the business.
Tell us about the product or service.
Annum Health is the superior alternative to rehab for heavy drinking.
How is it different?
We’re dealing head on with the barriers that prevent 90% of people struggling today from getting the help they need.
Annum allows everyone, regardless of location, to easily access modern medical and behavioral treatment to help them cut back or quit drinking by harnessing technology. At the same time, we are eliminating the barriers that have traditionally prevented people from seeking help. Instead of having to visit a clinic, our participants work with their team – a doctor, therapist and coach – over their mobile phone. This approach maximizes privacy and convenience, making it easier for someone to stay engaged long enough to change their relationship to alcohol. It also allows us to change the economics, making it attractive for employers to cover all the cost of service.
Heavy drinking is not only the largest untreated epidemic in America, it’s also growing. Sixteen million people in the United States have alcohol use disorder and—with research showing one in four adults binge drink—many more are at risk for developing the disease.
(Heavy drinkers are defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as men who drink five or more drinks in a day and women who consume four or more drinks in a day, on a weekly basis.)
What is the business model?
To make treatment available to as many of people as possible, we partner with major employers and health plans who want to take proactive steps to cultivate a happier, healthier and more motivated workforce. An important note: although a person’s employer pays the full cost of a participant’s treatment through Annum, we carefully safeguard each person’s privacy so their boss and coworkers will never learn of their participation.
What inspired the business?
Around the time that I left AbleTo—now a well-known behavioral health company—I met a journalist who just wrote an in-depth article for The Atlantic about medically-proven treatments for heavy drinking. Her reporting was a call to action for me. After partnering with Dr. Mark Willenbring, the former head of alcohol recovery research at the National Institutes of Health, and Dr. Lauren Wolfe, a clinical therapist who specializes in addiction recovery, Annum Health was born.
How do you integrate technology into your offering?
Annum unleashes the full potential of modern, effective treatment by replacing the “rehab clinic” with your own mobile phone. Behavioral therapy is provided by phone, a medication evaluation is offered by video (if prescribed, medication is covered through the participant’s prescription plan and can be delivered to their home or picked up at a local pharmacy), coaching happens through Annum’s proprietary phone app, and anonymous, moderated peer support is available online.
In addition, our purpose-built technology and rigorous provider training drives adherence to quality care nationwide.
We also securely capture and analyze data that will establish secondary benefits of treatment including enhanced workplace performance and a healthier, more motivated workforce.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
Our primary goals in the next several months are to continue to advance health plan and employer partnerships so we can begin providing care on a wider scale in January 2018. We have already signed an agreement with one of the largest health insurers and current discussions are underway with others. Our outlook is good.
What is the one piece of startup advice that you never got?
Ask yourself, “What do I want?” It becomes hard to separate yourself from the business, but it’s important to make sure that personal and professional definitions of success align.
If you could be put in touch with anyone in the New York community who would it be and why?
Michael Bloomberg, because he ran New York like the Medicis ran Florence.
Why did you launch in New York?
Why would you not launch in New York? Seriously, in New York you have the most remarkable people show up at your doorstep, from every field.
What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?
I have a soft spot for Il Gattopardo. They launched right after 9/11 and we’ve been loyal patrons since. They make us feel at home like no one else.