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Substance Use Disorder & Addiction Treatment Innovators’ Playbook

This blog post provides an excerpt of content originally published by Sunwave Health on August 8th, 2023. The Sunwave team was responsible for coordinating all the contributions made to the report by providers, payers, policy advocates, and people in recovery. Dr. Annie Peters, Director of Research and Education and Executive Director of FoRSE, was among the leaders to be interviewed in the white paper, which is available in its entirety, here: Substance Use Disorder & Addiction Treatment Innovators’ Playbook.

An estimated 109,680 individuals in the United States died from a drug overdose in 2022, according to the CDC. Additionally, in recent years, drug overdose deaths among those between 12 and 17 nearly doubled on an annual basis.

Innovative advancements in substance use disorder (SUD) and addiction treatment continue to lag compared with other complex diseases and disorders. Venture capital firms simply don’t invest as much in addiction treatment as it does in treatment for diseases like cancer, which received nearly 270 times the venture funding in the past 10 years. Sunwave Health is determined to identify the innovation needed to change the course of addiction treatment in the U.S. with the Substance Use Disorder & Addiction Treatment Innovator’s Playbook.

Innovation at the Front Lines

We set out to gather information from those closest to addiction treatment today—providers, community and policy organizations, and insurance payers.

  • Providers – Treatment providers carry an undue administrative workload that distracts from patient care. The professionals we interviewed recognize a constant battle for treatment authorizations and reimbursements that consumes resources and limit their autonomy in determining the best course of treatment.
  • Community and policy organizations – Barriers to treatment like family, housing status, provider access, rural location, and insurance exist across communities. Experts we interviewed identified the benefits of telehealth for medication-assisted treatment but are concerned about the future of these programs.
  • Payers – Working toward parity—equal access to physical and mental health treatment—has uncovered unique challenges for insurance payers. Our experts pointed out that value-based care is often constrained by treatment duration, a major factor in successful outcomes. These limitations and the industry’s lag with a framework to improve health, enhance experiences, reduce costs, and minimize burnout display the need for better funding and incentive plans.

The industry leaders we interviewed go in-depth about these topics and more in our playbook.


Sunwave Health (Sunwave) drives healthy results for mental health and Substance Use Disorder treatment providers through a fully integrated solution that supports the entire treatment journey. Sunwave's platform delivers traditional capabilities provided by CRM, EMR, RCM, HR, and billing solutions. But we go further to ensure results. As the only 4th generation, fully integrated treatment journey platform, we drive outcomes using complete analytics, on-demand intelligence, and intuitive reporting. There is a reason we are the highest rated in customer satisfaction. See for yourself. With Sunwave, mental health and Substance Use Disorder treatment providers can attract more qualified patients, accelerate the admissions process, improve care coordination, drive length of stay, improve revenue, and optimize clinical resources.

Wayne Johnson is the Vice President of Sales and Presales for Sunwave Health. For the past 27 years, he has been deeply immersed in the technology sector, holding various key roles such as Chief Information Officer, Adjunct Professor, and Vice President of Sales/Presales. His expertise lies primarily in data integration and analytics, where he solves complex data challenges across industries. In addition, Wayne has an exceptional knack for scaling businesses. He played a pivotal role in driving 15X growth at Pentaho—the preeminent organization leading innovation in big data and analytics—which exited to Hitachi.

Operations Topics: 
Clinical Topics: 
Substance Use Disorder