Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. At Lionrock, we suddenly feel the love. 

For most of Lionrock’s ten years in operation, pretty much everyone has told us, “it can’t work”. By everyone, I mean potential partners in our field, investors, and most of the psychologists with whom we had contact. I’ve written about this before and you can read that post from 2017 here.

Fast forward to March 2020 and I can’t even count how many residential treatment centers have announced they are transitioning to telehealth in the last week. Why? Because COVID-19 has forced them. With their residential units and their freestanding intensive outpatient programs (IOP) programs closed, telehealth appears to be the answer. I can say with some authority that they are right. Telehealth allows us to reach people who won’t or can’t get help otherwise, who want to get help from the privacy of home.

In the ten years since we founded Lionrock, everything we’ve done has been telehealth. We’ve helped thousands of people (80% of Lionrock clients reported being abstinent at the time of a recent survey), delivering all of our care online by secure video conference and mobile app. Through that experience, we’ve built a state of the art telehealth program. We’re accredited by the Joint Commission and we accept most private health insurance.

I regularly meet with executives in our field who believe that building what we’ve built is easy. Just add video to what they already do, right? I can understand thinking that, but telehealth is very different than providing care in person.

One example is the sheer complexity of scaling a healthcare practice. On this day in mid-March 2020, Lionrock has nearly 500 clients in treatment. COVID-19 isn’t stopping any of our clients from getting the help they need. Last year, Lionrock clients attended over 20,000 therapy sessions. We’re on track to double that this year. In the last 12 months, we’ve logged nearly 5,000,000 minutes in our Zoom accounts. Over 80,000 hours. 

What does it take to provide care at this size? To start, Lionrock is a virtual company. We’re spread out over more than 35 states with nearly 60 master-level licensed substance use disorder counselors on our team. Many of us at Lionrock have never met in person, though we work together every day in live video. 

To effectively provide care and manage our geographically-distributed workforce, we’ve built a robust practice management system that tracks hundreds of operational metrics. Some of it is pure air traffic control: making sure everyone gets to the right session, on time. Other touchpoints ensure that the quality of our treatment is ever better. Among those, our system makes sure that treatment plans are signed and reviewed on time, and that session notes include the “golden thread” that links every session back to a treatment plan goal. Our system surveys our clients every week, giving us real-time feedback on client engagement and satisfaction, as well as a progress map. We use the metrics our system collects to continuously improve our engagement processes and the rich content of our program. And as our Zoom minutes total attests, we all stay in close touch, no matter where we are.

Of course, our individualized care begins with a deep assessment from which we build a treatment plan for each client. We marry that personalized care to a rich education curriculum (psychoeducation) that has nearly 100 different lesson modules and a powerful long-term recovery skills component. We regularly add new program elements. For example, we’ve pioneered telehealth EMDR, and collaborated with ASAM-certified physicians to develop protocols for all-telehealth Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT). We built a GPS-enabled structure and accountability app that operationalizes treatment plan goals in our clients’ daily lives.

We’ve spent ten years building Lionrock into the pioneering telehealth company it is. But to build it, we had to put in the time and the work. During those many years when people in our field weren’t interested in telehealth, we were hard at work developing the largest and most experienced telehealth company that provides substance use disorder treatment. I think our team has built the best IOP out there, telehealth or brick & mortar. 

So, before you decide to work with a company providing telehealth substance use disorder treatment, ask them how long they’ve been doing it. They’ll tell you that it doesn’t matter, that their own program is so good that moving it to telehealth will be seamless. Maybe! 

Or you can go with Lionrock: with ten years’ experience, we are the leaders of substance use disorders telehealth. Don’t take my word for it, listen to what a few of our clients had to say about us here.

Thank you for reading!

Peter Loeb