With Progress Health Cloud, iTether was able to develop a new patient-centric experience that vastly improved substance abuse treatment through the convenience of a mobile application.




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Substance abuse has traditionally been handled via paper-based programs. A more modern approach leveraging a mobile application would enable iTether to boost patient engagement and drive better outcomes.


With Progress Health Cloud, iTether was able to quickly build a patient engagement platform that providers could customize and deploy quickly for their specific needs.


Not only was iTether able to build out the platform quickly, the company was also able to save thousands of dollars due to built-in HIPAA compliance. Additionally, the application was a success in the field—patients using recovery programs built on the iTether platform recorded higher engagement scores.



Substance abuse is a major epidemic in the United States, with recent statistics from the Center for Disease Control reporting that drug-related overdose deaths have more than doubled over the past 15 years. Sean Gunderson, co-founder of iTether, believes the first step toward eliminating substance abuse starts by transforming the way treatment is delivered to patients struggling with addiction.

“The way it’s been done the last 40 years is through a paper-based system,” Gunderson explained. “You come into a program and get a booklet with a program you’re going to follow. If that’s all you do, a 30-day in-patient clinical program, there’s a 90% chance of relapse within one year.”

Gunderson envisioned a platform that could modernize substance abuse treatment by giving providers a means to deliver long-term care to patients through an engaging mobile application. This led to the conception of iTether, a mobile platform that enables care providers to create personalized curriculums with built-in data analytics that facilitate ongoing treatment, even after patients have left the clinic.


By digitizing treatment programs and opening the lines of communication between providers and patients, iTether can be used to improve industry standards and transform the delivery of treatment services and integrate services across the continuum of care. 

To bring the app to market quickly, iTether chose Progress Health Cloud to build the foundation of the application. Progress Health Cloud is a high productivity application platform with development accelerators designed specifically for the healthcare space, which enabled iTether to deploy the application even faster.

“Getting to market quickly was a necessity for us and Progress helped us go from design to the general release of an enterprise application in less than five months,” Gunderson said. “No one in the substance abuse treatment recovery space is delivering data-driven mobile treatment plans, so getting the product into experts’ hands meant we were collecting patient feedback earlier and iterating faster.” 

For iTether, the fact that Progress Health Cloud is a HIPAA-compliant platform is a major advantage. iTether estimates that having built-in HIPAA compliance saved hundreds of hours of development time and the associated costs.


Developing a similar enterprise patient engagement platform from the ground up could have taken anywhere from 12 to 18 months, doing it with Progress took a fraction of the time. With both the patient-facing and provider portal apps sharing the same backend, there was less code to write, test and maintain. The iTether team was able to stand up the backend in just one week and had a minimal viable app and clinical portal in beta in just over four months.

Because Progress Health Cloud is so easy to use, the iTether team can spin up new customers and clients very quickly and got multiple pilots running within months. Additionally, new features and functionality can be added relatively easily, which enables the iTether application to be customized to the specific needs of each customer. One plug-in that iTether has already integrated is SurveyGizmo, which enables providers to send out interactive surveys and assessments, but Gunderson also sees other potential integration opportunities that will enable iTether to further enhance the application.

The response to iTether has been astounding, with users of all types reaping the benefits:

  • Many of the patients using iTether have responded positively to the mobile application, with clinics noting significantly better engagement and communication from patients.
  • Payers have benefited from the built-in reporting mechanisms, which improve accountability through evidence-based outcomes.
  • Case managers say that iTether has simplified their job—it’s easy to keep track of patients when they are in touch daily outside of the clinic.
  • Physicians are able to deliver highly personalized content for a dynamic treatment plan that speaks to the individual needs of each patient. Plus, the data is helping drive program improvement.

A study at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has shown that over 75% of patients believe that the iTether app gives them more information and more motivation to make decisions regarding their health and recovery. Additionally, 85% of patients surveyed agreed that they would use iTether in the future if they needed to make decisions about their recovery.

“The biggest challenge for substance abuse treatment traditionally has been trying to figure out how to keep patients from relapsing after leaving the security of an inpatient program,” Gunderson added. “With the iTether Patient Engagement Platform powered by Progress Health Cloud, our customers are able to extend treatment past the typical 30- to 90-day program to 12 to 24 months, which delivers better results and ensures patients can stay actively engaged in their recovery process.”

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