With its roots in a “great idea” and focus on a people-first mission, Aware Recovery Care has not only weathered turbulent times in healthcare but seen dramatic growth in its in-home addiction treatment services. The result is ever-expanding access to a program that’s changing lives for the better, according to Aware CEO Brian Holzer.
The original concept for Aware’s model sprung from what Holzer called a great idea – sending care teams into the home over a calendar year to treat individuals with substance use disorders.
“We’ve seen so few things that really work in healthcare, and the things that do are the models where you wrap services around someone for an extended period of time,” he said. “In healthcare, you don’t get to do that often.”
As recently as 2016, Aware operated its pioneering, in-home addiction treatment program as a fee-for-service provider, with 15 employees serving about 100 clients. The annual treatment cost was roughly $45,000, putting it out of reach for many patients and limiting the company’s opportunities to expand. That same year, Aware partnered with Anthem to provide services at a monthly bundled rate.
That partnership has been pivotal to allowing the company to scale its model and grow.
Today, Aware operates in 10 states, with 800 employees serving 4,500 clients on a co-payment arrangement. The company plans to expand to two more states by year’s end and is working to bridge the gap and extend its services to Medicaid patients.
But taking an idea – even a great one – and expanding it comes with its own challenges.
“The process of an idea that gets established, to an established idea that scales, is where most companies will struggle,” Holzer said.
When those growth opportunities occur, having a professional management team is critical, he said, because expansion brings its own set of challenges.
“In our case, demand is not the problem,” Holzer added. “Unfortunately, this is an epidemic. It is only growing. We can’t slow down.”
Holzer credited his “A+ management team” with maintaining focus on the company’s core mission throughout its meteoritic rise.
“We were driving on the highway at 60 mph and trying to change the tire without having the chance to stop the car,” he added. “That’s a very common issue that faces companies going through meteoritic growth.”
Issues like technology and connectivity, especially in rural communities, and proximity to airports so residents can access major health systems will also continue play a major role in the expansion and availability of health services in the future, he said.
For his part, Holzer said he’s proud that Aware is making a difference in people’s lives.
“We’re in the process of changing the conversation in regard to how substance abuse disorder is treated,” he said.