Human technology

Caron CEO-elect Brad Sorte shares his take on AI impact on addiction recovery


The statistics are staggering; According to the American Addiction Centers, more than 22 million Americans are struggling with drug addiction / addiction and only 10% of them receive treatment of any kind.

As in so many other industries, it is no exaggeration to claim that AI is revolutionizing the drug treatment industry, providing new opportunities for recognizing crises, finding like-minded peers, early detection. through genetic testing and ultimately a full recovery.

While fully automated, AI-based drug treatment is still a long way off, AI and machine learning technologies designed to help patients and their families regain health are becoming more accessible and impactful every year. day.

Caron has been at the forefront of the fight against this public epidemic for 60 years and has just entered a new phase with the appointment of Brad Sorte as elected CEO. In this interview, Brad shares his thoughts on the impact of artificial intelligence [and is already impacting] addiction treatment, as well as the lessons learned as someone who has seen and helped countless people come to terms with and recover from their addiction.

You have just reached what many consider a desirable step in your career. What does it feel like to be CEO of Caron?

Sort: Well, it’s a huge responsibility to be given the baton to drive this vision. It is even a bit sacred. It’s really special not only because it’s a milestone, but also because of the journey that brought me here.

You know, I remember 2015 vividly when I was the new CEO of Caron Florida. I was making my first trip to Caron, PA since my parents dropped me off as a patient almost 10 years ago. I saw a lot of people, including friends, coming and going to Caron.

As I approached the Caron PA campus and its iconic fences, I was struck by how very different the circumstances of these trips were – and how real the gift and promise of life in recovery is. .

It’s a trip that I would take almost every day as the new CEO of Caron. It fills me with gratitude and a great sense of responsibility.

Why do you think Caron has had such a positive impact so consistently over all these years? What role did data, technology and AI play in this success?

Caron’s patient-centered approach to treatment, prevention and research is why we are able to positively impact individuals, families and the treatment community at large. By continually reviewing our performance at all levels and evaluating our results, customer feedback and the latest scientific and scientific research, we can quickly adapt and apply innovations and improvements to the care of our patients.

We also look at opportunities where we feel our customers and stakeholders are not being served and this is where we are focusing our time and energy. Caron’s program innovations – from offering one of the first models of gender-distinct programming over 20 years ago to more recent developing programs for specific groups such as youth adults, the elderly and the medically compromised, or, more recently, to commit to our value-based insurance contract model – continuing to set the standards for our industry.

Technology plays a vital role in the science of drug addiction medicine. Specifically, at Caron treatment centers, we now use a person’s DNA to determine the best drug for their underlying psychological diagnosis, which allows us to start this drug earlier, which increases the likelihood of ‘lasting recovery. We can also use artificial intelligence to predict and intervene when an individual may be in the early stages of a relapse or recurrence.

Through AI, we are able to create predictive clues that can identify when a person is at risk for relapse due to changes in their geolocation, the contacts they engage with on their phone, and consistency in relapse. follow-up recommendations for follow-up.

All of this information combines to obtain a rich data set that allows us to be targeted in our response to minimize relapse, while also allowing us to refer people to treatment immediately after a complete relapse. This early warning system is particularly important in opioid use disorders, as the risk of death increases dramatically for those who relapse after treatment.

What is your take on the use of AI in drug treatment? How would you like it to be used in the future?

We are only scratching the surface of AI in the treatment of substance use disorders. I see several areas where artificial intelligence can expand its influence and improve long-term outcomes. AI is essential for building predictive engines and analyzing a multitude of data points, it can be used to identify people at high risk for relapse. Beyond that, the idea of ​​creating “centaurs” of human and artificial intelligence, combining the best of human intuition and AI analysis, will allow us to have greater precision in identifying best treatment protocols by analyzing the clinical problems present in a patient. . We have seen it in oncology and these results are a prime example of how the whole is more powerful than the sum of its parts.

How can other companies in your industry and beyond take a page out of your book when it comes to an innovative approach? What advice would you give to future leaders looking to build a business with a legacy like Caron?

It’s easy to get distracted by the latest fad of treatment. Pursuing the last shiny objects causes organizations to deplete their resources, as does trying to be everything for everyone, instead of really focusing on what they do best. Focus on your customers’ needs, what they are looking for and how those needs are not being met. I would advise newcomers to have an unwavering commitment to quality and customer service. People come to us on the worst day of their lives, bewildered by the choices they have to make. It’s up to us to make this as painless as possible, while providing them with the best possible care.

I think that every company has a vision, a reason for being. However, it seems that businesses and organizations often become obsessed with being a business, making money rather than fulfilling a need or updating their vision.

Maybe Caron being a nonprofit may have affected our commitment to our vision, but what I discovered with our patient-centered approach is that when you invest in a system that gives prioritizing a patient’s recovery from this chronic and treatable brain disease, when you hire full-time masters-level drug addiction medicine physicians, physicians and psychologists, certified counselors in drug-related disorders substance use and process disorders (sex, gambling, shopping, digital use, gambling) – and provide evidence-based medically appropriate treatment … patients are recovering, insurers want to work with you and people support your cause .

This has been true for us at Caron and there is no reason that it cannot be true for anyone. When you understand the needs of your customers, align your vision and resources, and do the right thing, you are successful.

It’s about focusing on the vision and the big picture and not obsessing over the bottom line at the expense of the bottom line. I would also advise aspiring executives to keep a sense of humility, learn to listen, keep an open mind and maintain their curiosity.

Knowing why we do what we do is just as important as doing it.

What do you think about the future of technology, artificial intelligence, and the future of drug treatment?

There are still many opportunities for technology to improve the health care delivery system, particularly in the treatment of substance use disorders. One of the best places we see will be the continued growth of measurable results that can help educate practitioners on how to improve their care, research efforts to advance the science of addiction medicine, and access increased.

The future of substance use disorder treatment will continue to see integration into the overall behavioral health continuum as the silos between psychiatric treatment and substance use disorder treatment continue to grow. collapse. Over time, these sectors will also become a more integrated part of the health care delivery system as a whole. The pandemic has revealed the need for better alignment of mental, behavioral and physical health care, which we at Caron are helping to facilitate through our medical education initiatives. This will be a net positive for patients, as these issues will be addressed holistically and the interdependencies of their issues will be addressed together.

Finally, what inspired you and what makes you move forward after more than ten years in the field?

The promise of recovery and its actualization! Can you think of a more inspiring phenomenon?

People come to Caron during the worst and darkest days of their lives. Seeing them start to bond, reconnect with family and loved ones inspires me to continue. I am also motivated by the fact that disorders associated with untreated substance use can be fatal. The work we do saves lives.

Caron’s reach goes beyond treatment and extends to prevention, education and medical research. We try to teach and enlighten people about the power of treatment and its ability to improve the lives of 1 in 3 American families affected by this disease. We want to help reset the way we talk and think about substance use and treatment disorders, we want to share the promise of recovery. I have seen it with my own eyes many times and as CEO I want to continue to give not only hope to individuals and families, but also results.

75% of people with a substance use disorder will recover and go into remission. At one year, recovery is more likely than relapse, and at 5 years, a recovering person is as likely to start substance abuse as someone who has never had a substance use disorder.

People have to start taking their sanity seriously in America and that’s what inspires me and inspires us at Caron to keep fighting and working.


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