Below is our recent interview with Eric Gastfriend, Co-Founder & CEO at DynamiCare Health:
Q: Could you provide our readers with a brief introduction to your company?
A: DynamiCare Health is a digital care program that helps monitor and motivate people to overcome addiction. In 3 clinical studies, DynamiCare increased quit rates for opioids, alcohol, and tobacco by 2-3x compared to typical treatment. DynamiCare’s partners include major commercial and Medicaid health plans.
I started DynamiCare Health 5 years ago after seeing friends and family members struggle with addiction, rehab, relapse, and eventually recovery. My father, David Gastfriend MD, is an expert in addiction psychiatry. I asked him why the treatments in his field don’t seem to be working, and he told me that there are evidence-based methodologies that work in study after study but never get adopted in practice. We co-founded DynamiCare together to use technology to bring those best practices into the world of regular clinical practice through technology.
In our digital care program, DynamiCare matches each member with a certified Recovery Coach, who is in recovery themselves, to help the member stay accountable to their goals. DynamiCare enables people to complete virtual substance tests through its app anytime, anywhere, through connected breath and saliva tests verified by selfie video. Members earn monetary rewards for staying sober, attending treatment (verified by GPS), and completing self-guided in-app therapy modules.
DynamiCare’s innovative work has been recognized through numerous grants and awards, including 3 NIH grants and the $1M Ohio Opioid Technology Challenge. Their work has been featured in various news outlets, including the NY Times, WSJ, and CBS News.
Q: Any highlights on your recent announcement?
A: We just raised an additional $1.5M in seed funding, led by Early Light Ventures, with participation from a number of other investors, including existing investor Hyperplane Capital, physician-led MEDA Angels, Brown Angel Group, and leading mental health and addiction advocate, former U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy. This round brings our total equity funding to $5.6M. We’ve also earned $3.1M in non-dilutive grants & prizes. We plan to use this funding to support the continued development and growth of our platform.
Q: Can you give us more insights into your offering?
A: Our digital care program is much more than an app — it combines a real human connection with a coach, remote breath and saliva testing devices, and a rewards program. Members get alerts in the app saying, “Eric, please do a breathalyzer test in the next 2 hours.” Then I record a selfie video of myself performing the test. We get the results automatically over Bluetooth, but the video serves as proof that it’s really me. If I test negative, I earn a few dollars on a smart debit card that blocks access to bars, liquor stores, and cash withdrawals. So I’m constantly getting positive reinforcement for healthy behavior. And if I miss a test, my DynamiCare coach reaches out to me to check in on me. Our program is highly clinically impactful and members love it — our Net Promoter Score is 72.
Q: What can we expect from your company in next 6 months? What are your plans?
A: In the long-term we want to expand coverage among employers, commercial health plans, and Medicaid plans, so that the people who need our program the most can benefit from it. But for the next 6 months, we’ll be focused on strategic initiatives to create easier reimbursement and contracting pathways for those organizations. The digital health category lies in between traditional provider and medical device categories for reimbursement, so the existing billing codes don’t always neatly apply. So part of our job is to find or build pathways that make it easier for these organizations to contract with us or cover our program.
Q: What is the best thing about your company that people might not know about?
A: There are lots of addiction apps out there, but few of them have rigorous clinical evidence behind them. We have over a dozen active partnerships with academic researchers right now, and 3 clinical studies that have been published. All of our clinical studies were done with government funding, independent academic researchers, and used control groups to compare DynamiCare against (instead of just looking at before and after, which can be misleading). The 3 papers that have been published show doubling to tripling of quit rates with DynamiCare, which is astounding. And we did not come up with these results — researchers at institutions like Johns Hopkins and University of Vermont did. That sets us apart from the competition.