Aware Recovery Care, Inc. is breaking new ground in multiple ways as it seeks to deliver effective care for patients who are capable of receiving substance use treatment and recovery services outside a brick-and-mortar facility.
Aware’s innovative approach combining the services of peers and licensed professionals has earned acclaim among insurers, private equity funders and patients and their families. It doubled the number of states in which it operates during the COVID-19 pandemic, as the industry began to recognize the value of high-quality virtual care. Aware now has a strong presence in the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic, Midwest and Southeast regions of the U.S.
Allison Aviles, system administrator at Aware, emphasizes (as all programs should) that Aware’s approach won’t be ideal for every patient. But for those individuals who don’t demonstrate the complexity of needs that might require a residential treatment stay, Aware offers the combination of clinical treatment and peer support that can propel patients forward in their recovery.
Aviles said Aware’s credentialed “care coordinators” deliver all clinical services virtually. During patients’ time in treatment, which averages around 250 days, they see their peer “certified recovery advisers” (CRAs) in person once or twice a week. Aviles said of the CRA’s role, “Having someone to listen and understand goes a long way.”
Aware has deftly integrated into its work several emerging trends that are changing the substance use treatment landscape, including the growing influence of people with lived experience in the continuum of care. It also has been on the leading edge of payment innovations that are moving the industry toward true value-based payment for services. Back in the mid-2010s, Aware entered into a pioneering managed care contract with Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield that featured a bundled payment structure, removing the need for billing individually for discrete units of care. This gave the organization considerable flexibility to tailor services to what each patient needs most.
Aware uses Sigmund Software’s EHR platform, with the extent of each staffer’s use of AURA based on their role in the organization. The clinical care coordinators have access to data for all patients in the region in which they operate, using the platform on an ongoing basis for treatment planning. CRAs have access only to the data for the patients with whom they directly work.
Aviles explained that patients can see some of their relevant paperwork via an online portal. Aware is gradually expanding the amount of information available online as it educates staff on what should be shared. Over time, patients may be able to sign more forms via the portal and view results of medical tests. But Aware wants to proceed slowly, as this requires education for both staff and patients. “Learning a new process at a time when you’re establishing a sober life can seem overwhelming,” Aviles said of the patient experience.
Our role at Sigmund provides the ongoing support that can help organizations such as Aware maximize staff competency in the system, which in turn will translate to excellent results in patient care.