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California Launches Digital Therapeutic Program for Substance Abuse Treatment

Analysis  |  By Eric Wicklund  
   January 12, 2023

The state's Medicaid program is partnering with digital health company Pear Therapeutics on the precision digital therapeutics program aimed at treating residents in 24 counties who are living with stimulant use disorder.

The state of California is launching a precision digital therapeutics program aimed at helping people living with substance use disorders.

The California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) is partnering with digital health company Pear Therapeutics to support the state's Recovery Incentives program, which was launched in 2022. The contingency management (CM) program, operated through the state's Medi-Cal Medicaid department, targets those dealing with stimulant use disorder by offering motivational incentives and tracking behaviors.

Some 24 California counties will take part in the program.

"Participating Drug Medi-Cal Organized Delivery System (DMC-ODS) counties will launch the CM benefit in the first quarter of 2023, in accordance with approval from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services as part of the CalAIM 1115 Demonstration," DHCS reports on its website. "Eligible Medi-Cal beneficiaries will participate in a structured 24-week outpatient program, followed by six or more months of additional recovery support services. Individuals will be able to earn motivational incentives in the form of low-denomination gift cards, with a retail value determined per treatment episode."

[See also: Digital Therapeutics: Beyond Coding to Coverage and Evidence Frameworks.]

Pear Therapeutics, based in Boston, develops digital therapeutic treatments, or software-based tools designed to allow providers and patients to track engagement and adherence and target behaviors through incentives and other methods. An important part of the process is the use of digital health to track patients and enable on-demand collaboration and long-term engagement with care providers.

Advocates, including the Digital Therapeutics Alliance, say the digital health platform is effective and can replace traditional medication-based treatments.

Eric Wicklund is the associate content manager and senior editor for Innovation, Technology, and Pharma for HealthLeaders.


California's Medi-Cal program is partnering with Pear Therapeutics on a precision digital therapeutics program aimed at residents in 24 counties who are dealing with substance abuse.

The program uses a digital health platform to track patient engagement and adherence and enable on-demand collaboration with care providers.

It also uses incentives, in the form of gift cards, to reward residents on the program and induce behavioral changes.

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