Digital Health Circle Findings


According to Statistics Canada, substance use remains a major public health concern, with 1 in 5 Canadians meeting the criteria for at least one substance use disorder in 2012. Despite a number of public and private programs available to help people overcome addiction, a majority of the persons affected aren’t participating in any of these programs, or even actively looking for help. 

Significant research efforts have been made to understand why treatment programs for substance use can have poor patient engagement. SAMSHA, the BCCSU, the NIAAA, and other large North American institutions have shown that stigma, job concerns, cost, geographic distance, and poor mental health education all contribute to lower engagement, but there has yet to be a more practical study on how to change this reality. This is particularly relevant for alcohol, as the substance is legal, socially accepted and encouraged.

To identify the key barriers to patient engagement in treatment, Digital Health Circle has partnered with ALAViDA Health, an innovative digital health company specialized in modernizing treatment for heavy drinking. The study is aimed at understanding what can significantly increase addiction treatment engagement levels, particularly in the workplace, where alcohol cost US employers $77 billion in lost productivity in 2010, according to the CDC’s breakdown published in the American Journal of Preventive Health. As Greg Christie, Director of Innovation at Digital Health Circle, states, “Occupational Medicine Physicians will play an important role in our successful execution, review and publication of the study, and the Occupational Medicine Specialists of Canada’s Conference – OMSOC 2019 – is the perfect setting to raise awareness and invite candidates to join.” Occupational Physicians from both executive and unionized environments within organizations will be interviewed starting this Fall with final selection completed by the start of 2020. The selected physicians will collaborate with the ALAViDA clinical team on the research protocol for the study.

Professionals struggling with heavy drinking are constantly battling between getting help and maintaining their privacy – with all the potential risks to their career. We recognize that unlike most health conditions, the perceived financial and social costs of engaging in treatment are often higher than those associated with doing nothing.” says Dr. Diane Rothon, Addiction Physician and Medical Director at ALAViDA.”At the same time, we also know that there is a growing concern for mental health in the workplace, and that wellness program participants report increased engagement with work. Substance abuse directly affects all of that, and it needs to be addressed. Understanding the real barriers is the starting point to challenging the status quo.” adds Dr. Rothon.

The OMSOC 2019 Annual Conference is happening this weekend on September 21 and 22 in Toronto, ON, and brings together Canadian leaders in occupational medicine. It provides a unique educational and networking opportunity for occupational health professionals and physicians, making the event the perfect setting to launch the active phase of the 2020 Substance Use Research. Digital Health Circle will provide independent review and research oversight, while ALAViDA will provide the technology to gather data. The publication of the study is planned for 2020.


ALAViDA is the first digital therapeutics company treating heavy drinking with harm reduction. At ALAViDA, we combine medication and therapy with easy-to-use technology to tailor treatment and allow clients to privately access their care team from anywhere. Clients set their own goals and see life-changing results: over 87% reported feeling more in control of their drinking and over 82% significantly improved their ability to stop drinking once they start. More information about ALAViDA and how treatment works can be found at

About Digital Circle Health

Digital Health Circle is a technology innovation centre in Vancouver, Canada. Circle helps companies connect with consumers, care providers, and other health stakeholders, and assist them in developing technology solutions to improve the lives of all. Digital Health Circle is a member of the AGE-WELL Networks of Centres of Excellence, a Canada-wide system that connects over 250 industry members with 25 university research centres to support health technology development.

Access the ALAViDA TRAiL app.