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Marketing to Reduce Barriers to Addiction & Mental Health Treatment

On today’s episode, Jenny welcomes Ben Camp, CEO, and co-founder of RehabPath, a platform focused on improving the patient, caregiver, and family member experience in addiction treatment. Ben discusses the origins of RehabPath, which began in 2017, stemming from his prior work in marketing for addiction treatment centers and tech startups.

Ben emphasizes the importance of the user and patient experience and the challenges people face when seeking addiction treatment information online.

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Jenny: [00:00:00] Hi, friends. Welcome to today’s episode of We Are, Marketing Happy – A Healthcare Marketing Podcast. My name is Jenny Bristow. I am the CEO of Hedy & Hopp, a healthcare marketing agency. And I am so excited today to be chatting with Ben Camp. He is the CEO and one of the co-founders at RehabPath. Welcome, Ben. 

Ben: Thanks, Jenny. Great to be here. 

Jenny: So, we met a while ago, but I went up to your office and chatted with your organization about a month or so ago when you were having your organizational all-hands and we’re doing some in person training for your team. And, I was really blown away by your focus on patient, caregiver, and family member experience.

So I would love for us just to back up a little bit and have you share with our audience your concept for RehabPath. Why you decided to create it and kind [00:01:00] of how you’re always thinking about that experience throughout the process. 

Ben: Sure. Okay. Thanks. I appreciate the kind words. We really enjoyed your talk.

I think people were inspired by your take on marketing as well. So, we started the company RehabPath in 2017. But before then, my co-founder, Jeremiah and I, and some of the other founding team members, have worked at a marketing agency that specialized in a few different segments.

So, I’ll kind of talk about two. One big segment was addiction treatment. So, we worked with treatment centers and helped them do their marketing and really learned a lot about that patient journey, how complicated it was, how difficult it was for these providers to both run a successful program and also keep the beds full.

And so, we were able to work on some really good strategies for that with them. And then on the other hand, we worked with a lot of startups just in the, just like tech startups. So it’s not, we weren’t [00:02:00] as focused as you on completely healthcare. But I think that there were some benefits to that.

So we were working on the, kind of on the healthcare side, but also, yeah, on the tech startup side, and one of our big clients was a company called and they did, they had a product. They still do. They’re now publicly traded, but they were super small back then. And they developed this concept for remote usability testing where you could at any moment, as a, marketing, a lot of marketing people use it. All sorts of people would use it. But at any moment, you could just order a test from their panel. And their panel was just regular people that would get paid. I think at the time it was, like, ten a test and it would go to, they would get an order for a test to be run and you would just have them walk through something that you are building or a website that you had and get feedback from them.

And we just learned how important it was to, yeah, get that user feedback as we’re building things, whether it was for our clients, or as we started [00:03:00] developing these, this concept of RehabPath before we officially launched it. So anyways, we just from the outset have had a real focus on putting user and patient experience first. And as we looked at the addiction treatment space, we saw that most people, when they have an addiction or mental health problem, they turn to the Internet first over family, friends, medical professionals and the websites that they were finding either were very hard and clunky to navigate and find help.

Kind of on even the sites that had really good intentions. And then there are a lot of websites out there that had really bad intentions and were using dark UX patterns to trick people into calling a hotline and trying to redirect them to a treatment center that is basically paying for those calls or paying for the website.

So, we build websites that truly are an independent resource. And put that patient experience first for when people are looking for treatment. We have websites that help them [00:04:00] navigate this really complicated process of finding a treatment center. And, that’s been something that we’ve been working on now for since 2017.

Like I said, we’ve got a pretty large team now and have made a lot of progress and have thousands of treatment providers on our website that people are able to find each day. 

Jenny: I love it. I am just proud of you for the work that you’ve done. It’s really great to think about how many lives you’re positively impacting.

But, I’d love for you to talk a little bit about when you think about this space in particular, how are you and your team understanding what information should be highlighted within all of these facility profiles? And then how are you understanding how to best serve the patient or the family member that’s searching?

Ben: Yeah. Great questions. And I think, I mean, the lives being impacted is, like, why we, I think, both really enjoy doing marketing in this space is we know that. We’re not just selling. I mean, I love marketing any [00:05:00] type of product that I believe in, but it’s really great to do it for something that is literally saving people’s lives.

And, that’s the outcome of good marketing that you’re doing. So, we have a research team from the outset, our one person, that was Olivia. She’s now our VP of Research with a lot of people on our team. She has her Master’s in Addiction Studies. And so she heads up the effort that our team takes to work through all the information that’s out there about treatment centers and try to highlight what’s most important.

One thing that, we’ll, I’ll acknowledge is important for people when they’re looking and it sounds kind of, it’s definitely not the most important thing, but we found that photos and good, just information about what because we’re mostly working with residential treatment centers.

So someone’s looking at: “I’m going to spend 30 plus days at this place.” It’s really important for people to know what that’s going to look and feel like. So, I mean, we found that [00:06:00] the better photos and video that treatment centers have can really help people make a decision and feel comfortable actually call, picking up the phone and calling.

So that’s, like, pretty surface level and we obviously see some treatment centers that that’s really all they have to offer is a nice facility, unfortunately, but when there’s the combination of, we start with, okay, they have a really nice facility. And so we try to highlight that in the, you know, and if we are working with treatment, we often sometimes work with treatment providers that have really high quality treatment, but then their marketing assets are really bad. And so, trying to point them to agencies that can help with that, or we’ll even just go on site and do photography to help make their listings on our site look better.

Because we don’t want people to overlook a great treatment provider just because the photos are bad. If they have, yeah, so, that’s definitely one piece of it. But then we really work to try to highlight the treatment program itself and try to suss out what a [00:07:00] treatment center actually specializes in.

So it’s, typically, if you just give a treatment center a form and ask them, like, what they treat, they’ll check pretty much every box and kind of just, it’s very, and they, it’s very hard to get them to differentiate themselves from others because they believe in what they’re doing and just say that they’re the best at everything pretty much and have the best staff and all that. So, we do really try to take a, so it’s very helpful for us to take a bit of an independent look and see what they actually specialize in, what their staff, what their staff is credentialed in, and things like that.

And then we’re able to, we have a few different ways that we are able to highlight the, those specializations. We’ll certainly, like, make sure that everything that they treat is shown on the profile, but we’re able to, in the way that we kind of rank our centers, when you’re looking at a feed, if you’re looking for a certain type of treatment, we try to push up centers that specialize in that type of treatment.[00:08:00] 

Jenny: That’s wonderful. I’ll say when we’re doing content marketing strategies for healthcare organizations, and then we go back and look at the data of what content is working the most, TikTok is so popular right now. Short form videos are the videos that get the longest watch time, most engagement are the “What to Expect” videos.

So for example, what to expect at my ENT pediatric appointment, or what to expect for an MRI, whatever it is. It’s boring content, right, whenever you think about all of the sexy, fun influencer content people are creating now? But at the end of the day, that’s what patients and their families need in order to help make a good decision.

So I totally understand positioning. 

Ben: Yeah, well, back in the marketing agency days, like, one thing that we would do with a lot of our clients is recommend that they do, like, a day, what an average day looks like in treatment and doing a video around that is, like, it’s a really simple concept, but just kind of walking them through, like, what the daily schedule looks like.

And if it’s not a video, just making sure [00:09:00] that’s just even published on the website so people can really get a sense of, a day or a weekly schedule, what that’s going to look like. Because, most people are, that are looking haven’t ever experienced treatment before. So they need like, really want to know what it, what they’re getting themselves into.

Jenny: Yep, absolutely. And one thing I’ll say that I’d like to chat about a little bit more is what these local clinics are experiencing and facilities as far as actually trying to do marketing on their own. I mean, we work with a rehabilitation center and the Head of Marketing is also the Director of Admission.

So, we often see, like, multiple hats being worn. And so, I would love to hear your thoughts about not only what you’re seeing as far as that structure within the facilities today, but what changes you’ve seen since you’ve started this platform? And if there’s been any movement, 

Ben: Yeah, I think the multiple hats thing is real, for sure. And, as we’re really passionate about the [00:10:00] patient journey, like I’ve talked about, but many of us that interact with our customers and have had a lot of experience doing that are also super passionate about helping these treatment centers run successful businesses and find people that can really use the treatment that they’re providing, so, I’m super empathetic to them.

And often just some of the most, like, passionate people that you’re working with. So I think, I mean, one thing that you’re saying the Director of Admissions and the and she’s also running marketing.

I mean, a lot of times the marketing that look that treatment centers are doing is a mix of kind of referral network building, so, I mean, they have, like, kind of on the ground marketing people that are making connections with local providers like hospitals, et cetera. And like, kind of doing that.

Like, I guess you would call it, like, old school, like, person-to-person marketing and that’s very effective [00:11:00] and, like, is a big way that treatment centers kind of build their beds and also, building that, like, alumni network. So, if someone’s gone to a treatment center and hopefully been successful just continuing to build that relationship with them over time is really helpful for getting those referrals in the future when they, because often these people end up mentoring someone that needs treatment and they’re able to point them to that center.

So, I mean, that’s really important, especially as a center, like, grows over time in terms of just, like, longevity, they can rely on more and more on that. But regardless, we see that digital strategy is really important on top of that. So, I was just talking to one of our customers yesterday and they were just saying how there’s so much overlap between that kind of on the ground referral marketing and the digital marketing.

And, sometimes people want to, like, in the CRM or something, put/decide which one gets credit and there’s a lot of kind of fighting over who, who actually filled that bed. [00:12:00] But often it’s a bit of a combined effort. So, I don’t know that I’m answering your question, but I’m just like, that’s just on my mind is that kind of, the pairing of the two is there’s a lot going on there as far as I’m trying to remember what your original question was now, maybe redirect me. 

Jenny: Yeah, no worries. It just shifts, like, where you think it’s going to be going in the future from an industry perspective. 

Ben: Yeah, I mean, we’ve seen, like, some shifts that we’ve seen is people kind of learning how to do their own SEO over time, which is good, I think, and not an over reliance on Google Ads, which had been a big way that people have historically filled their beds and are still doing that. But, I think that there’s one of the trends, even on the side has been, I mean, Google has gotten a lot better at surfacing, high quality content and user [00:13:00] first kind of content.

So, both our SEO strategy and then a lot of our clients is to just answer people’s questions, help them, like you were saying, like that whole, like, what is it like to go to treatment? Like, those types of queries are, have I mean, there’s not nearly as much kind of shenanigans on the outside as there used to be thankfully, and so it’s, we’ve seen some of the, some of the players in the space that were pretty low quality as far as websites out there to help people find treatment have, like, kind of fallen off over time because they didn’t ever really have that high quality of content. And so, just as we continue to invest in what we’re doing, we’re seeing kind of the rewards of that in terms of how our rankings continue.

And, like, when people are searching for treatment, they’re finding our websites because Google is getting data every day back that., “Oh, people come to this website and find what they’re looking for.” So that’s been really good. We, [00:14:00] a big trend is, over the last 5 or 6 years since we started RehabPath has been just the whole insurance thing, kind of post Obamacare where much more people are able to get treatment.

But then it gets complicated because people want to know, like, what their insurance covers and there’s a lot of restrictions on, but, insurance companies are always pushing back on what they will cover and things like that. So, that’s something that on our kind of road map is to help people navigate that treatment, like, looking for treatment with that information about their insurance.

So, if we had, I mean, a lot of times treatment centers have, like, a verification of benefits form on their website. We would love to centralize that so people can put in a verification benefits and then we only show them treatment centers that would work with their insurance so that it would just like, it’s just there’s a lot of as, it’s like, if someone picks up the phone, calls the treatment center, and then they find out, oh, like, they don’t take my insurance or they can’t, I can’t afford this, the chances of them [00:15:00] going and picking up the phone and calling another center just become less and less because it can be very demoralizing.

And there’s only that, like, there’s only those small moments where someone is, especially if you’re talking about the patient themselves, is willing to put in when looking for mental health treatment. It can be a very small window, so a lot of what we’re doing is just trying to make it so that when someone does want to make that decision, we’re taking all the barriers away.

Jenny: I will tell you, just from, I had a family friend that wanted to seek care about 10 years ago, and they ended up eventually just giving up. They, like you said, had a day where they said, okay, if somebody can find me care that I can go and check into now, I will do it. And there was no tool to search.

There was no way to be able to understand what resources even were available in the state of Missouri, let alone those that are nearby and those that accepted insurance. So huge [00:16:00] paradigm shift. So, I would love to end. Oh, go ahead. 

Ben: That just reminds me of some stats that we’ve been looking at. And, I think this is from Sam.

So, I’m not sure it’s some government study. So in any, in a, in the year that they did this study they found that there were 659,000 people that didn’t get treatment, but wanted to get treatment for substance use disorder. And then they, here’s some of the reasons for no treatment. There was 221,000 people that didn’t know where to go.

There were 195,000 people that couldn’t find a program with the type of treatment desired. There were 75,000 people who couldn’t find a program close enough and then 37,000 with no openings where they looked. So, like, those are really interesting for us to see, obviously, and where we think that we can help more and more people, like, find a place to go find a program that has a type of [00:17:00] treatment.

If they can’t find a program close enough, help match them with one that they could go to and it gets covered by their insurance. So those are like, really interesting stats that we’re seeing around this. So, yeah, I mean.

Jenny: That’s an entire city’s population.That’s staggering when you think about it through that lens. 

Ben: Yeah. 

Jenny: So, I would love to end by you helping to help explain if there are rehab and behavioral health centers that are interested in being on your platform, what are the options? Like, if there’s a marketing person listening that wants to make sure their facility is adequately listed, how should they move forward?

Ben: Yeah. So, From the outset, our strategy is to, has been to be comprehensive. So we list treatment centers for free. And like, our research team is always looking for treatment centers that are on our platform that should be and so if a center’s, very likely a center that’s listening to us, if they’re in the US, they probably are on our platform already as a free listing.

But [00:18:00] if not, that would be the first step is to get them set up with a free listing. And then we kind of have this process where we, very similar to Google My Business, where you claim the listing and can make edits and things like that. So, we are able to provide value to centers just on the free listing side.

And then if people, if treatment centers are looking for larger reach, that’s where our advertising program comes in. So, that’s a really simple program. That is it’s cost per click. So similar to most digital advertising programs. So you pay for the volume that you get. So, basically, by turning on that campaign you’ll get a much larger reach off.

And it’s like, if you’re in one city, you’re getting access to neighboring cities, different targeting that you’re looking for. So, yeah, so the easiest way is just to fill out our contact form. And we’ve got a sales team that will, works up a discovery call and just make sure that you’d be a good fit, but yeah, I love it.

Jenny: Well, Ben, thank you so much for being on today. Thank you for the work that you’re doing. I’m going to share a [00:19:00] link to your LinkedIn profile as well as to RehabPath in the show notes, so if anyone’s interested in learning more, they know where to go. 

Ben: Yeah. Thanks, Jenny. It’s been lovely getting to know you this year and just really excited for the opportunity to be on your podcast.

Jenny: Oh, thank you. And for all of our listeners, thanks for tuning in. We will see you on a following episode of We Are, Marketing Happy. Have a great day. 



About the Author

Jenny Bristow is the CEO and Founder of Hedy & Hopp. Prior to starting Hedy & Hopp, Jenny launched, grew and sold a digital agency in Seattle and worked at Amazon. She was named one of St. Louis Business Journal’s 30 under 30, won a Stevie Award for Female Entrepreneur of the Year in 2018 and speaks regularly at healthcare marketing industry events.

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