The widening scope of telehealth, telemedicine, and remote patient monitoring (RPM) now extends to eating disorder treatment. San Diego’s Equip recently announced funding that will enable expansion of its evidence-based eating disorder treatment. Equip’s program is an at-home Family-Based Treatment (FBT).

According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD), at least 9% of the U.S population, or 28.8 million people, will have an eating disorder in their lifetime. The most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating. Eating disorders are the second deadliest mental illness; only opioid overdose causes more deaths each year. Treatment plans tailored for individuals with eating disorders can comprise individual, group, and/or family psychotherapy, medical care, nutrition counseling, and pharmaceuticals, according to Medline. Severe eating disorder cases often require hospital or residential treatment programs. ANAD states the annual economic cost of eating disorders is $64.7 billion.

In Equip’s FBT program, the patient lives at home. The program provides the family with evidence-based approaches and tools to overcome the eating disorder. Equip constructs a five-person dedicated care team for the family. The care team includes a peer, a family mentor, a physician (PCP, pediatrician, or psychiatrist), a therapist, and a dietician. The care team and the family connect via a virtual platform that allows family members to schedule treatments at home to fit their needs. Equip’s exclusive work with evidence-based approaches aids their work with health insurers, according to an Equip news release.

Equip was founded in 2019 by Kristina Saffran, a recovered anorexic who is the founder of Project Heal, a Denver-based organization dedicated to service people with eating disorders. Co-funder Erin Parks, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and researcher associated with the UC San Diego Eating Disorders Center. Equip currently serves patients in California, Texas, and New York. The organization raised $17 million so far to expand its program further. Equip’s broad goal and mission is to establish FBT as the gold standard treatment accessible for all people with eating disorders.

The virtual platform for family members and the five-person care team is the telemedicine technology glue that holds the program together and enables communication, support, and treatment in the patient’s home.