Joanna Conti’s quest to help families seeking quality addiction treatment services for their loved ones is coming back to where her journey began.
Conti spent five years looking for help for her daughter, Karina Monesson, who had developed an alcohol addiction. Monesson eventually became sober in 2013, but Conti laments the struggle to find treatment programs with demonstrated results. Finding a program that worked for Monesson relied on word-of-mouth and a stroke of good luck. Conti, who describes herself as “a serial entrepreneur, a researcher and a scientist,” says she set out to create a resource with more tangible data for other families in crisis to use when making treatment decisions.
In 2015, Conti created Conquer Addiction, a website that would be designed to help those seeking treatment find providers who publish data on their post-treatment patient outcomes. The problem, however, was that upon getting ready to launch the site, she found just five treatment programs in the U.S. who were making such data available.
“I started talking with treatment center owners and asked them: ‘Why aren’t you tracking your outcomes?” ” Conti tells BHE. “Enough of them said ‘we don’t know how to do it’ that I said there’s a business opportunity here.”
That opportunity became Vista Research Group, a firm launched by Conti to help treatment centers monitor patient progress, measure treatment outcomes, and use those outcomes to attract patients, negotiate with payers and help patients meet their treatment goals.
Now that more providers across the country are tracking outcomes—either in partnership with Vista or through other means—Conti is taking another run at launching Conquer Addiction. The site is set to launch with a database of providers on June 30. Treatment centers will be rated on a five-star scale based on outcomes research that complies with requirements that are defined by an independent panel of judges.
Treatment centers can submit six-month or 12-month post-treatment outcomes results, depending on how long they have been tracking outcomes. Star ratings are based on the percentage of patients who are reachable and claim to be meeting their drug and alcohol usage goals for the past 30 days. Outcomes data can be submitted for review on a quarterly basis. To be listed in the initial database at launch, providers must apply with their post-treatment outcomes data to Conquer Addiction by June 22. Treatment centers that have recently started tracking outcomes, but do not have data dating back far enough to meet Conquer Addiction’s requirements can apply for a provisional three-star rating.
Conquer Addiction is operating as a not-for-profit. There is a $199-per-year fee for providers to be listed on the site, but that fee will be waived for programs that apply by June 22.
Conti also notes that while abstinence-based programs have made up the bulk of the treatment centers listed thus far, Conquer Addiction welcomes applications from medication-assisted treatment providers as well. Conquer Addiction reviews MAT program submissions based on modified criteria that reflects MAT modalities.
“What we’ve created here is a level playing field where medication-assisted treatment programs can also apply with their results,” Conti says. “They can get a rating that is comparable to the abstinence-based programs.”