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Eleanor Health: One Year In

Corbin Petro

March 12, 2020


One year ago, I started my journey as Co-Founder & CEO of Eleanor Health. At this major milestone, I have taken a moment to reflect on what we have achieved in our first year, our learnings, and what we have yet to accomplish. It is hard to fathom that thirteen months ago, Eleanor Health, backed by incredible investors committed to treating the most vulnerable, was a concept for changing how we treat, pay for, and deliver whole-person care for people affected by addiction.

One year in, we’ve put our concept into action:

  • From 0 to 70+ full and part-time mission-driven team members

  • From 0 states to operating and delivering care in 2 states, with 6 welcoming clinics where our community members can feel safe, and virtual care offered statewide

  • From 0 to ~4,000 impactful, value-based services delivered in our clinics, virtually, and in patient’s homes and communities — starting when we opened our first clinic in September, 2019

The impact we have had on our community members and our results have been incredible:

  • 76% reduction in member-reported 90-day ER/Inpatient/Residential Treatment Center Utilization

  • 63% members with improved PHQ-9 score (depression)

  • 55% members with improved GAD7 score (anxiety)

  • 100% members with improved Recovery Capital Score (35 social determinants)

  • < 1 day to first available appointment

  • 91% retention of community members receiving the full Eleanor model

  • 85+ Net Promoter Score

The team responsible for this impact has been challenged, particularly during COVID-19, and has responded with unbelievable resilience, adaptability, and reaffirmed commitment. We’ve created supports that illustrate our culture including daily, bi-weekly, and weekly check-ins, meetings, and communications. Our employee engagement is at an all-time high as we take care of each other.

I am in awe every day of our team members’ commitment and demonstration of going above and beyond to meet the needs of our community members. The results speak to their commitment.

Our Vision is More Important Now than Ever

For decades, healthcare has viewed the brain as separate from the body and prioritized acute interventions over long-term, whole-person care. We have stigmatized addiction as a moral failing and allowed treatment to be unregulated and without evidence.

We now know that addiction is a disease — a chronic medical condition that requires long-term management just like diabetes or any other chronic condition. Yet we have continued to view our mental healthcare, particularly addiction, as separate from the rest of healthcare, and without holding mental healthcare to the same standards.

More than 20 million individuals are struggling with alcohol and other drug addictions, and their impacted families need different types of help, support, and care than offered today.

Despite the significant attention on the opioid epidemic which caused more than 47,000 overdose deaths in 2017 alone and is now the number one cause of premature death for those under 50 — we have continued to ignore the most important fact about addiction: it’s chronic.

Addiction is a chronic medical illness that is highly treatable. People have the potential to not only survive but thrive if supported and cared for in the right way. Meeting this challenge — helping people affected by addiction live amazing lives in recovery — is why we created Eleanor Health.

Our Team

For nearly 20 years, I have worked across all aspects of healthcare looking to improve how we design policies, use technology, and deliver and pay for care, particularly for our most vulnerable and underserved populations. I have learned that changing the existing system takes time, but when we get those parts right, we see dramatic improvements in outcomes. Expanding our thinking about healthcare to encompass the whole person has been the most meaningful focus of my work because it’s where I have seen the most dramatic impact for the most efficient investment of resources.

Similarly, my co-founders, Nzinga Harrison, MD and Srishti Mirchandani, have spent their careers immersed in changing and improving our physical and behavioral health systems. As a physician specializing in psychiatry and addiction medicine, Nzinga has become a nationally recognized expert in stigma reduction and increasing access to care that addresses the medical and psychosocial aspects of addiction and other psychiatric disorders. Working with stakeholders across the healthcare ecosystem with a focus on incentive redesign toward high-value care, Srishti brings experience in building new companies and solutions that enable the transformation of health and healthcare. Together, we created Eleanor Health to bring evidence, technology, and an outcome-driven whole-person approach… with the goal to fundamentally change the way addiction is managed by this country’s treatment system.

One year in, we have had the opportunity to build our team to be the most talented and mission-driven I could ever imagine.

Why Eleanor?

One of the questions we’re asked most is “Why Eleanor?” The Greek meaning of the name Eleanor is “shining light.” Eleanor Health aims to set forth a new paradigm for addiction treatment and recovery by illuminating a path for each person seeking our services, each community we join, and the industry as a whole. The name is also an ode to Eleanor Roosevelt, one of the earliest champions for universal human rights including medical care. At the age of 15, Eleanor lost her own father to alcoholism.

Dating as far back as the late 1800s when Eleanor Roosevelt’s father was confined in a sanitarium for his alcoholism, we have allowed “treatment” to exist without evidence and often in counterproductive ways, given what we know now. As demonstrated throughout her life, Eleanor Roosevelt was far ahead of her time when she astutely compared those with addiction to be similar to those suffering from diabetes.

Looking Ahead

With a year under our belt, we have learned a lot and are even more committed to our vision to help people affected by addiction live amazing lives. We never could have envisioned a year ago that COVID-19 would emerge and turn our world upside down. The adaptability of the Eleanor Health team to continue providing access and evolving methods of interacting with community members has been nothing short of amazing.

As we look ahead, we know our work and vision will be more important than ever before. While our ability to engage with people in new ways has expanded our footprint, we know the need for our care will be increasing as we approach the “second curve” of the novel coronavirus — our nation’s mental health. We’ve seen new and existing community members struggle with their recovery and more people using alcohol and other substances to cope with uncertainty, isolation, and anxiety. As we return to normalcy, these patterns and habits may impact health — and we’re committed to being here to help.

It is clear to me that we have the economic resources invested in today’s system to achieve far better results, but we need to transition to comprehensive delivery models that produce value and reverse the perverse incentives that perpetuate dysfunction and fragmentation. The human and economic costs for this fragmentation and inefficiency are unsustainable. To be sure, it is a big challenge to create a centrally managed healthcare delivery and social ecosystem that treats addiction for what it is — a chronic health condition. However, payers, health systems, treatment providers, patients and their support systems share a common pain, and there is no better time than now to drive this necessary change.

Eleanor Health is committed to taking on this challenge.

The team at Eleanor Health contributed to this article including co-founders Dr. Nzinga Harrison and Srishti Mirchandani, and Advisors Greg Williams and David Smith. We would love to hear from you.

If you need help with your substance use disorder, we are here to help you build your confidence and momentum towards the future you want. We provide treatment services for adults with alcohol, opioid, and other substance use disorders. We are currently located in Louisiana, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Jersey, Ohio, and Washington.

Eleanor Health

Recovery for life.

Our mission at Eleanor Health is to help people affected by addiction live amazing lives. We deliver whole-person, comprehensive care and are passionate about transforming the quality, delivery, and accessibility of addiction & mental health treatment. Our actions are rooted in respect for each member's values, culture, and life experiences, and our commitment to their wellbeing is unwavering and without judgement.

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