Interview with MATClinics

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This is an interview with Dan Reck, CEO of MATClinics

What’s your story?

My wife Lauren and I started MATClinics in 2016. Lauren had been a pharmaceutical representative selling opioid replacement therapies for over 10 years and felt strongly that there was a great need for high-quality outpatient addiction treatment. 

Our startup story is familiar to anyone who has opened a new business. We needed space, furniture, technology, staff, and in our case, experienced medical professionals. Lauren and I quickly learned which skills each of us excelled in and which areas we should leave to the other. Lauren takes the lead on patient care and I focus on growing the business.

What exactly does your company do and who benefits from the service?

MATClinics is an outpatient addiction treatment group. We serve patients throughout Maryland who are struggling with a range of substance use disorders using medication-assisted treatment (MAT). For example, if a patient is struggling with opioid use disorder, they are typically prescribed a medication that includes buprenorphine, most often Suboxone or Sublocade. 

Addiction is highly correlated with mental health struggles and treating our patients includes a wide range of services. Counseling services help with associated behavioral and emotional challenges and psychiatric care is available for those who need additional medications to treat their psychiatric disorders.

MATClinics is focused on providing a wide range of behavioral health services but there are circumstances when a patient may need more services than we can provide. MATClinics’ case managers help patients find needed external resources.

What makes you unique?

We provide treatment to match the specific needs of each patient. Every patient we see has traveled a unique road to get to where they are. Our staff and providers are trained to provide our patients with the specific services that they need at each stage of their recovery.

MATClinics distinguishes itself by providing the care and attention that our patients need. Making ourselves accessible is the first step:

  • Hours— Our offices are open not only during the day (when most people work) but also evenings and Saturdays.
  • Communication— Patients can call or text us 24 hours a day. Case managers are always available to address whatever issue a patient is facing.
  • Transport— All of our offices have ample parking and are easily accessible by public transportation.

What are you most excited about for the future of your company? 

We continue to broaden the services that we offer, as well as grow geographically. This allows us to bring high-quality behavioral health care to more people suffering from substance use disorders.

Do you have core values at your company? If so, what are they and how do they impact your business operations?  

Our culture is critical to what we do. Our staff and our providers have all been trained to treat each patient individually but this can be a challenging patient population. The behaviors that patients develop to feed their addiction are often opposed to how we would like them to interact with us. And while we provide the services necessary to help patients change their behavior, along the way our staff is sometimes faced with difficult situations. We have a range of foundational components to our values, including:

  1. We train our staff to be aware of their own emotional responses to challenges from patients. If a staff member starts to feel provoked, we want them to have the tools necessary to recognize their own reactions. Is their heart rate increasing? How is their breathing, are they holding their breath? Are they starting to feel tightness in their chest? Once a staff member recognizes that they are reacting emotionally to a patient, it is time to pass that patient off to another staff member who is less triggered. There is no shame in this, quite the opposite, it is far better for the patient to be helped by someone who is less emotionally invested in the interaction. We are all about providing the best patient care and that means that our staff has to be self-aware and mindful of their own responses to patient interactions.
  2. We do not tolerate collective punishment. Most of our patients are stable and deserve an environment of trust and responsibility. That is always how we start. If a patient violates our trust and expectations of personal responsibility, their behavior is addressed individually.
  3. MATClinics resists every doctor’s office tradition that does not directly improve patient care. Much of what healthcare providers say patients must do is based on outdated mythology and a pathological attachment to bureaucracy. Our patients do not fill out or sign paper forms, they do not need to bring their insurance card and ID to every visit, they do not need to remember more passwords to interact with us, and they certainly never need to interact with a fax.

Instead, patients visit our website and fill out electronic forms—no paper, ever. Patients can call or text our main number 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a week. If they want their records sent to another provider, just visit our website and fill out a form. We will get it done in 24 hours. The customer service bar is so low in healthcare that it is easy for us to exceed expectations. Our goal is to provide a customer experience that is comparable wit

h the best retail offerings, we do not compare our service to other healthcare providers.

What are some stats that help showcase the impact your company has?

  • 70% of our patients visit us only once-a-month. They are stable and only visit for their maintenance appointments.
  • >70% of those who arrive with opioids in their system and stay in treatment with us for more than 90 days achieve sobriety.
  • 3:1 is the ratio of incoming calls/texts we get for every in-person appointment. For the 30% of our patients who are not yet stable, we provide as much intra-appointment support as a patient requires.

As a result, we are growing:

  • 65% growth in the number of patients served in 2019
  • 420% growth in patients over the last two years

If you could give your clients one piece of advice, what would you say?  

Advice: Addiction is a chronic disease that has both physical and mental manifestations. Your brain was permanently altered by your medication/drug use. Almost no one recovers without the help of medication. You will almost certainly need a combination of medication and behavioral health interventions to get your life back in order. Recognize that recovery is not a straight line and give yourself permission to change your life at the pace that works for you.

Misconception: The single biggest misconception around treatment is that if someone tries hard enough they can kick their “habit”. Addiction is not a moral failing that can somehow be fixed by trying extra hard. Addiction is a disease and it needs to be treated by specially trained medical professionals. The combination of the physical and emotional struggles associated with recovery can make it feel overwhelming. MATClinics is here to make that process as easy as possible.

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