Brightside Health buys Lionrock Recovery to offer care for substance abuse

Steven Loeb · June 13, 2024 · Short URL:

Lionrock Recovery members will also have access to Brightside's therapy and psychiatry services

Brightside Health is a company that delivers virtual mental health care for mild-to-severe clinical depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders, offering services, including personalized psychiatry, clinically proven therapy, Crisis Care for patients with elevated suicide risk, to commercially insured and cash-pay patients in all 50 states.

Now, it will be adding a new benefit for its members: virtual intensive outpatient programs (IOP) for substance use disorder (SUD), which it's incorporating through the acquisition of Lionrock Recovery, a provider of virtual substance abuse counseling, offering IOP, outpatient programs, and individual counseling.

No financial terms of the deal were disclosed, though Brad Kittredge, co-founder and CEO of Brightside Health, told VatorNews that both corporate and clinical Lionrock staff have joined Brightside Health, with the majority of the team incorporated into its existing workforce. 

"Mental health and SUD are closely intertwined. In fact, more than 19 million U.S. adults simultaneously experienced a mental illness and SUD in 2021. We knew in order to fulfill our mission of delivering life-saving mental health care to everyone who needs it, we needed to address SUD," Kittredge said.

"Lionrock Recovery’s offerings are complementary to our current services: clinically proven therapy, precision psychiatry, and Crisis Care for elevated suicide risk. This acquisition also supports our intention to be the highest-value behavioral health partner to payers and providers, which includes the influx of people with SUD presenting at emergency departments, which saw 39% more cases between 2018 and 2021, per the CDC."

When a member goes to Brightside, they start with a free assessment leading to a personalized treatment plan. From there, members can make an appointment to be seen within 48 hours and get started working with the same care team from start to finish. 

Brightside's platform includes personalized psychiatry with PrecisionRx, which provides AI-driven recommendations based on over 100 data points, as well as real-time care management, which can track progress and identify risk levels in near-real time, allowing for automated risk escalation to the provider.

In addition, patients also get advanced quality management with ActiveSupervision, which scans charts to verify completeness and identify situations that a supervisor should review, and Crisis Care, a national telehealth program for treating individuals at elevated risk for suicide.

Within 12 weeks of using Brightside, 86% of patients experience clinically significant improvement, while that number is 88% for those reporting suicidal ideation at intake. The company also sees 71% achieving remission, compared to 69% for those reporting suicidal ideation at intake. Of the patients achieving remission within 12 weeks, 65% did so within 28 days, and 82% did so within 48 days. The mean time to remission was 31 days.

Going forward, Brightside Health members are able to benefit from IOP for SUD through Lionrock Recovery; similarly, Lionrock Recovery members now have access to the therapy and psychiatry services Brightside Health provides. In the coming quarters, all IOP services will be integrated with and delivered directly through the Brightside Health platform, offering a single place to get the most comprehensive and high-quality care. 

"IOP services provide time-intensive, structured treatment for mental health conditions and/or SUD, and can be less disruptive and more cost effective than inpatient or residential treatment programs," explained Kittredge.

"Participants in an IOP attend individual and group therapy sessions, engage in evidence-based lessons, obtain psychiatric treatment and medication as needed, and have access to lab testing and additional peer support communities."

This latest acquisition follows new and expanded payer partnerships with Medicaid and Medicare, as well a $33 million round of funding in March. The expansion into IOP for SUD allows Brightside Health to serve an even larger segment of mental health patients. 

"We are now the only company providing nationwide telemental health services for a broad range of mental health diagnoses, such as anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, alcohol use disorder and SUD through a tiered care model and within insurance networks. We are committed to doing the hard work on the hard cases while simultaneously enabling payers and health systems to achieve their goals," Kittredge said. 

For example, now payers and providers can streamline their referral partners as Brightside Health can serve as the go-to for a range of mental health diagnoses – everything from depression to suicidal thoughts to SUD – creating additional efficiencies. 

"Our mission remains steadfast: to provide life-saving mental health care to everyone who needs it."


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