Inside Google’s Tech-Enabled Approach to Revolutionize Addiction Treatment

Google’s life science-focused sister company Verily has made a bet on a brick-and-mortar opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment center.

This comes as the technology conglomerate – along with its parent company and other business segments – continues to move further into behavioral health care.

The Alphabet Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOGL) life science subsidiary teamed up with providers Kettering Health Network and Premier Health to form the OUD treatment center nonprofit OneFifteen in Dayton, Ohio. It also worked with Alexandria Real Estate Equities (ARE) on the location.


In 2021, there were 100,306 drug overdose deaths in the U.S. This represents a 28.5% increase in deaths from the previous year, according to the CDC.

The center, which is named for the 115 lives per day that were lost to unintended overdoses in 2016, first opened its doors in 2019.

It sits on a 4.5-acre campus and offers a crisis stabilization unit, outpatient clinic, inpatient residential treatment program and a residential treatment program. Patients can also go to the provider for medication-assisted treatment (MAT), including naltrexone and buprenorphine.


While the provider does have a physical location, there is a tech aspect to care. If the patient consents, the provider “applies analytics to measure the effectiveness of various treatment choices through the full continuum of care.” The organization said it uses the data to help evolve care and treatment programs.

“Leaning into our capabilities of building health platforms, we are setting out to create a ‘learning health system’ that aims to address this critical information gap in addiction medicine,” Verily wrote in a blog when OneFifteen launched in 2019. “Beyond providing the technical infrastructure to treat patients day-to-day, the system will also generate insights that could advance the understanding of how to treat and promote sustained recovery for those experiencing addiction and allow for evolving best practices.”

There is also a digital health component to care. OneFifteen offers telehealth services where patients can join a group, meet with a therapist or connect to their peer support specialist. Patients can also use the company’s app to check upcoming appointments and manage their care.

Although there are high hopes for OneFifteen, Verily is still waiting to tap into the full opportunity, according to Blomberg, which profiled the OUD clinic on Tuesday.

“With far fewer patients than it expected in its first year, Verily struggled to collect enough data to run the sort of analysis that was the foundation of its strategy,” Bloomberg reported. “Eventually, pandemic restrictions were lifted, and more patients arrived. Still, OneFifteen has yet to run its machine learning models to predict relapses and analyze the conditions Verily originally wanted.”

At the beginning of September, Verily landed $1 billion in a funding round led by Alphabet. At the time, the company said it would use the funds to focus on precision health. Specifically, the infusion of cash would help grow the company’s real-world evidence generation, health data platforms, research and underlying technology.

In August, the center announced that it has treated over 5,000 patients since opening its doors. The center received $1.1 million in COVID-19 relief funds from the CARES ACT.

Verily isn’t the only Alphabet company to be setting its sights on behavioral health. In 2021, Google hired Headspace Health vet Megan Jones Bell as its clinical director of consumer and mental health.

Google has previously launched the mental health self-assessment tool, too. The tool offers self-assessment for depression, anxiety, PTSD and postpartum depression. It then provides users with additional information and resources.

And while Google is innovating in a virtual environment, Alphabet’s venture arm, GV, is following Verily’s lead and looking to the brick-and-mortar space.

The venture firm, which is independent of Google, may be looking at serious mental illness and bricks and sticks investments, according to Dr. Ben Robbins, a general partner at GV.

“The community of people that are willing to take the risk of starting a company are just getting smarter and smarter,” Robbins recently told Behavioral Health Business. “And [SMI] is an area that is complicated. You can’t have only content or only a lightweight chatbot. I don’t think that this is a space that’s really conducive to pure virtual. The combination of cognitive impairment, the social complexity, the clinical complexity – I think that pretty much has to be a hybrid model, if not fully in person.”

But it’s not just big tech that are looking to solve the opioid crisis.  The federal government has invested billions of dollars in attempts to curb it. Last week, for example, the Biden administration announced a $1.6 billion investment into community programs addressing the addiction and overdose crisis. 

BHB spoke with OneFifteen’s CEO in September 2021. Highlights from that conversation are available here.

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