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Fraser Health expands virtual care for workers dealing with substance use

Vancouver-based Alavida providing support to additional health-care workers via smartphone
Alavida co-founder and medical director Dr. Diane Rothon | submitted

Fraser Health Authority is expanding the tools its workers have for dealing with their own substance use amid the pandemic.

The health authority had previously been offering a substance-use management platform known as the Alavida Trail to 5,500 health care workers at three sites.

The platform, developed by Vancouver-based Alavida Health Ltd., is now being made available to all 32,000 health workers employed at Fraser Health.

The expansion comes after the Digital Technology Supercluster (DTS) made an initial investment in the initiative last June.

Health workers can use their smartphones to access the Alavida platform and tap behavioural coaches, therapists and physicians who can offer help for dealing with substance use.

Workers are able to engage in online journaling, tracking their consumption or accessing suitable medications through doctors available over the platform.

Alavida has also developed an AI-powered “companion” to build trust with participants over 15-90 days, depending on their needs.

“In light of the unprecedented stress caused by COVID-19, there is urgency to increasing access to our program,” Alavida co-founder and medical director Dr. Diane Rothon said in a statement.

“Health care workers face enormous challenges when seeking treatment, including workplace and social stigma, discipline and loss of livelihood. This emphasizes the importance of a proactive approach centered on accessibility and confidentiality, that is stigma-free with ongoing support.”

The Vancouver-based DTS received a $153-million funding commitment from the federal government in fall 2018 in a bid to stoke business collaborations between a broad range of private and public organizations over five years.

The pandemic shook up those plans, with Ottawa mandating in April 2020 that all five of the nation’s superclusters were to redirect resources towards addressing COVID-19.

The DTS eventually closed out its pandemic-related investments to the tune of $60 million by August 2020.

The supercluster, which is open to organizations with a presence anywhere in Canada, estimated in January 2020 that its pre-pandemic initiatives would create more than 13,500 jobs and add more than $5 billion to the nation’s economy over the next decade.

The goal is to bolster private industry, non-profit and post-secondary collaborations on digital products that can be commercialized.

Projects must include a minimum of three organizations.

The consortia are to invest their own dollars into the projects, while the DTS matches up to 75 cents per dollar invested.

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