Meet Sam Warach of NextStep
Tell us about NextStep.
Substance use disorders (SUD) cost society nearly $1 trillion (one trillion dollars) per year in the form of lost productivity, crime and healthcare expenses. Substance use and opioid use collectively comprise the number one public health crisis in the United States today. Over the last ten years, rates of substance use, opioid use and related mental health conditions have increased exponentially and reached unprecedented levels. This has caused increased rates of overdose, suicide and human suffering. Society needs a multifaceted solution to address the root causes of this multipronged, complex public health challenge.
NextStep HealthTech is a human-centered health and wellness technology company that operates with the mission to improve public health, help people become the best version of themselves and Take the NextStep toward wellness and recovery. With a focus on prevention and mitigation, we address root causes of population health challenges such as substance use; opioid dependence; and other related, often co-occurring mental health conditions, like depression and anxiety.
NextStep HealthTech improves access to care and enhances health literacy through our current offering of two mobile health applications: Hey NextStep and NextStep Bloom. Both applications are currently available on the App Store and Google Play. Hey NextStep is designed for people over 18 to and NextStep Bloom is designed for Youth. Both applications help users better understand care options, and how to navigate his or her unique determinants of health.
Who or what was your best resource for starting your company?
The best resource has been those individuals who have empathized with our company’s mission: to address the root causes of behavioral healthcare challenges. It’s been helpful to receive support from people who understand that when root causes are left unaddressed, they are likely to lead to worsened outcomes.
NextStep HealthTech has its origins in a story of personal resilience: Eleven years ago, when I was twelve (12) years old, I lived with my mother and my older brother in a two-bedroom apartment. My older brother had been experiencing physical ailments which were causing him depression and anxiety. He sought care from our family doctor, who referred him to a number of different care specialists. My brother, under the care of various providers, was prescribed multiple pharmaceuticals by each, but the root causes of his conditions were never effectively addressed. One day, after a few medical appointments, he picked up his prescriptions as usual and took his medications as prescribed. Two days later, my brother received a call from a pharmacist to warn him not to take his medications, as there was high potential for a harmful interaction if he took them as prescribed. At that point, however, it was two days too late; my brother already died from the prescription drug interaction. The fact is, this story is not unique. Countless people in the United States have similar stories. Many have shared their stories with me because they can relate to the grief and they’ve gotten behind our company’s mission. NextStep HealthTech is more than a company — it’s a movement — of people who are ready to take their health into their own hands to resolve this public health crisis of devastating consequence and Take the NextStep.
What was your biggest obstacle in starting your company and how did you overcome it?
The biggest obstacle in starting this company has been the decision to create a new venture from the ground up instead of relying on the safety and security of a 9-to-5. Building the platform has been a 24/7 gig, but luckily, I have found a tireless passion for innovation and creating solutions to critical problems. Additionally, I had to make the decision to reconcile with something that had instilled fear and sorrow for a long time, and in turn channel the grief into something to continue my brother’s legacy to help others and ensure that he didn’t die in vain. Through this company, I work to create solutions that address today’s number one public health emergency — which is something I’m committed to and have decided is greater the risk.
Each day I am motivated by my desire to prevent another 12-year-old from having to go home to the news that his brother died a preventable death. I’m inspired by NextStep HealthTech’s mission to help in the prevention of those deaths, such that no other 19-year-old, or 29-year-old, or 59-year-old will die simply because his providers did not have the solutions he needed.
What’s the best advice you have received?
Have tenacity in the face of adversity. – My mother
What about the NH lifestyle appeals to you?
Our team is comprised of several NH natives. One thing we love is how conducive the Granite State is to an active, healthy, lifestyle. We have access to the ocean and the mountains during all four seasons which provides great opportunity for contemplation in nature — a key ingredient to spark creativity, innovation, and wellness! Boston, Portland, and New York being a short trip away is icing on the cake. Overall, the location of NH has enhanced our opportunities for development. It is our hope that we will reclaim our beautiful state from the ugly underbelly of addiction and substance use which has dramatically taken hold over our communities in recent years. It is no coincidence that NextStep HealthTech was born in one of the states that has been most affected by the national substance use and opioid crisis.
What does the future look like for your company?
We just launched our first two products, Hey NextStep and NextStep Bloom, which are both available for download on the App Store and Google Play.
Hey NextStep is a mobile health application that helps people identify options for wellness and recovery. The application provides a compendium of resources for personalized and actionable next steps, which includes a location-based treatment locator, and information modules overviewing health solutions, both pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical.
NextStep Bloom is a mobile health application designed to improve Youth mental health resilience, prevent substance use, and provide information to help cultivate health literacy.
We have some exciting new features for both products in the pipeline to scale our positive impact. Stay tuned as we work to improve access to care, health literacy, and overall public health. We also manage a blog and regularly hosts editorial contributions from industry professionals and individuals who have battled the challenges we address.