Accolade Taps Equip for Eating Disorder Support

Eating disorders affect nearly one in 10 Americans and have the second-highest mortality rate of all mental health disorders after opioid addiction. A new partnership aims to bring additional support to patients struggling with eating disorders.

Integrated healthcare delivery and navigation company Accolade announced last week that it is working with Equip, a virtual provider of eating disorder support. Seattle, Washington-based Accolade serves employers, health plans and consumers through virtual primary care and mental health, expert medical opinions and care navigation. Equip, based in San Diego, California, virtually treats eating disorders by connecting patients with a five-person care team: a medical physician, dietician, therapist, peer mentor and family mentor. It works with most major health plans and cares for patients ages 6 to 24 in all 50 states.

Accolade added Equip to its Trusted Partner Ecosystem, a collection of health vendors vetted by Accolade that its customers can decide to contract with. The ecosystem includes Carrot Fertility for fertility care, Virta Health for diabetes care and Headspace Health for behavioral health care. The company also recently added Lyra Health for behavioral health care. The companies are vetted based on factors like their clinical model, data security, financial health and scalability.

Equip is the only solution exclusively focused on eating disorders in the Trusted Partner Ecosystem. Accolade chose to add Equip to meet an unmet need, said Kristen Weeks, senior vice president of strategy, corporate development and partnerships at Accolade.

“The typical services available to those struggling with eating disorders are often suboptimal given their cost, accessibility, and typical outcomes,” Weeks said. “Eating disorders … can have serious consequences. When we got to know Equip’s exceptional model and team, we wanted to take steps to ensure that Accolade’s members are able to seamlessly learn, access, and ultimately benefit from its program.”

Equip engages in family-based therapy, in which family members are involved in the recovery of the patient. The company’s program starts by having patients and their families meet with the provider team as often as needed for meal planning, mentorship, therapy and other support. As patients’ symptoms improve, they’ll move to more individual sessions. Treatment also includes a body image program created by Stanford clinicians that helps with self-esteem.

“For an illness that asks a person to fight their own brain at least six times a day, it’s cruel to ask them to go through treatment alone,” said Kristina Saffran, co-founder and CEO of Equip, in a statement. “We know that overcoming an eating disorder requires a village — so we surround patients with clinical experts, people with lived experience, and their loved ones — to help them feel hopeful and reach long-term, lasting recovery.”

Weeks said that Accolade’s services are “highly complementary” to Equip’s. Accolade’s care team includes health assistants, clinicians and behavioral health specialists, who can help patients understand what benefits they have and direct them to treatment. Its virtual primary care physicians and therapists can also support other mental health conditions that often coexist with eating disorders. In addition, its other behavioral health providers in the Trusted Partner Ecosystem (Lyra and Headspace Health) can also provide support.

“We believe this was an area that warranted our focus and investment,” Weeks said.

Through the partnership, Equip pays a monthly fixed fee to Accolade. The payment is not tied to Accolade members’ utilization of Equip.

Other virtual providers that offer eating disorder support include Eating Recovery Center (which offers individual, group and family therapy and nutrition counseling) and Alma (which provides a directory of behavioral health providers, including those that support eating disorders).

Photo: mikdam, Getty Images

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