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New service will seek more effective matching of client to center

May 17, 2014
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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A family's online search for suitable treatment options for a loved one can be characterized along a spectrum ranging from the aimless (sites that merely list programs and offer no distinguishing information) to the dangerous (sites where facilities pay big money for prominent placement, or that purport to be objective locators but actually point every visitor to the same center).

Suzanne Spencer, who has worked in the addiction field as a program director, counselor and coach, hopes a new portal she and her partner Robert Gilbert have created will offer a meaningful alternative that will benefit both clients and facilities. The trademarked RecoveryQuote, expected to launch in June, will allow clients to complete a mini-assessment online and then have facilities that have joined the service as members submit price quotes for a residential or partial-hospitalization level of care. Spencer calls Gilbert the brainchild of the concept.

Treatment centers that participate will be vetted before their inclusion and will have to agree to abide by a code of conduct that prohibits unethical facility practices such as patient brokering. They will pay a monthly fee to be part of RecoveryQuote (use of the service will be free for consumers and clinicians), and operators of the portal will reserve the right to dismiss a center that is not living up to its promises.

“This is developed to be client-centric,” says Spencer. “We are looking for respectable and quality facilities that would serve the client well.”

A typical scenario

Here is how a client or family experience on RecoveryQuote might unfold. A client or family member would complete an application that would include a short-form biopsychosocial assessment with information on the individual's presenting problem and other details. The person filling out the online application would include information about insurance coverage, allowing operators of the service to conduct a benefits check before informing participating centers that the person is seeking a quote.

Any participating center interested in that referral could then submit a price quote for treatment, with that quote usually being good for a defined time period. The client and family therefore could receive multiple quotes (they will be formally notified of each quote via e-mail), with the likelihood that they could be from facilities scattered across the country because RecoveryQuote is expected to have a national reach. The centers will not know the individual's identity during this quoting process, as he/she will be identified only by a number.

Spencer says the portal will not give any facilities favorable placement on the site; all will pay the same monthly fee, and they will be able to enter and exit the service as they wish.

“If the facility knows that its census will be down for a certain two months, it can choose to be on there for that time,” she says.

She emphasizes that the act of closing the deal with a client or family will remain in the hands of the participating centers, not with the service.

Quality control

Spencer sees the inclusion of a code of conduct as pivotal to maintaining the integrity of RecoveryQuote. Participating facilities must confirm at the outset that they are licensed and that they incorporate patient protections such as formal grievance procedures.

She says all centers that use the service will be on an equal footing, as the portal is independently owned and operated.

Her partner has experience in Internet marketing, and they therefore are using a variety of online means to get the word out about RecoveryQuote, including social media. Centers now have the opportunity to enroll on a trial basis as operators prepare the site for the official launch.