Trinity Health to Use Digital Therapies to Expand Depression, Excessive Drinking Treatment

The partnership between the North Dakota healthcare system and Orexo, a Swedish digital therapeutics company, may be an example of how digital therapeutics can be especially beneficial for healthcare systems serving rural areas.

A healthcare system in North Dakota is expanding its partnership with a digital therapeutics maker in hopes of leveraging the technology to expand access to mental health support.

Trinity Health, a healthcare network based in Minot, North Dakota, that serves 25 counties in northwestern North Dakota and eastern Montana, said it will make two digital therapeutics —Vorvida and Deprexis — available to patients.

The digital therapies are both sold by Orexo, a Swedish digital therapeutics company. Vorvida is for people with excessive alcohol consumption, and Deprexis for people with depression.

John M. Kutch, the president and CEO of Trinity Health, said digital therapeutics are particularly beneficial to healthcare organizations serving patients who live in rural areas.

“Community health systems are often faced with unique challenges that require innovative solutions to make care more accessible to our many patients across a vast geographic area,” he said in a press release. “Digital therapeutics provide evidence-based mental health offerings, which align with our goal of prioritizing accessibility without sacrificing quality of care.”

The partnership between Trinity Health and Orexo began at the start of COVID-19 pandemic when Trinity Health responded to the increased need for mental health support among its staff by making the two apps available to its staff and their dependents.

After finding success in that “pilot program” setting, the provider decided to make the therapies available to all of the 200,000 people within its service area.

Nikolaj Sørensen, M.Sc., Orexo’s president and CEO, said the new arrangement is part of an innovative partnership strategy.

“This milestone is the result of an extensive collaboration with Trinity Health and our shared ambition to be at the forefront in helping people suffering from mental illness and substance misuse,” he said, in a press release.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, North Dakota is among the states with the highest rates of binge drinking, with a prevalence of 22.7% among adults ages 18 and older.

Kutch said the privacy associated with the applications is an important selling point.

“There is still tremendous stigma associated with mental health and substance use disorders that prevents many from getting the help that they need,” he said. “Our new offerings deliver evidence-based therapies in a highly private and patient friendly format.”

Orexo said it has provided training to more than 50 healthcare professionals at Trinity Health, in order to help them successfully combine traditional care with the company’s digital tools. In addition, the company said it is partnering with Trinity on an “extensive communication plan” to ensure successful implementation.

Neither Orexo nor Trinity disclosed the financial l structure of the agreement in their press releases, but Orexo said the two entities have “collaborated to establish new administrative processes and support systems to ensure effective patient access to these innovative digital therapies and reimbursement of the products through a collaborative care model.”

Both Vorvida and Deprexis used digital cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to achieve their results. Vorvida is a 180-day online program designed to help users identify triggers and associated negative behaviors, and then replace those behaviors with more positive responses to triggers. Deprexis is intended as a “supplemental treatment” for depression. It takes the form of a 90-day program that adapts to user responses in order to personalize the therapy.

According to its website, Vorvida is available at a cost of $99 per month for six months. Deprexis, meanwhile, is available for a one-time payment of $399. Both are available for purchase through their respective websites without a prescription.