Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication. According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism affects 1 in 54 children in the US these days. Rethink is a health technology company that is committed to providing scalable training, treatment and clinical support for those affected by autism as well as other developmental disabilities. We had a short interview with the CEO of Rethink Autism, Inc., Daniel A. Etra. Here are a few excerpts.
Kindly walk us through the inception of Rethink. And give a brief introduction about the company.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 1 in 6 newborn children will be diagnosed with a developmental disability (such as autism), making such conditions more common than pediatric cancer, diabetes, and AIDS combined. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the main treatment methodology recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the US Surgeon General, and the US National Institutes of Mental Health for treating individuals with developmental disabilities such as autism. However, the highly limited availability of credentialed ABA providers - only approximately 30,000 Board Certified Behavior Therapists worldwide - severely limits its potential benefit for the hundreds of millions of individuals globally with such disorders. Limited public support services, including in the education and healthcare systems, further amplify this challenge.
Rethink was founded with a mission to address the significant challenge of how to effectively and affordably meet the treatment needs of this enormous and growing population worldwide with a significant dearth of trained professionals. The Company determined that the only way to deliver clinical best practice treatment in a scalable way was to leverage technology to train whoever was caring for the individual with the developmental disability on how to deliver the treatment. This would impact all the entities revolving around the care of this population, including in the school, in the home, and in the healthcare system. Rethink found extensive research on the effectiveness of video modeling for training in fields such as medicine and the military and decided to combine this proven method of instruction with the proven and medically-recommended ABA treatment methodology, creating an online training and support system for individuals with a developmental disability and their caregivers worldwide
What are the emerging trends in the healthcare technology industry today? How is Rethink adapting and incorporating those trends to serve customers better?
One of the emerging trends in healthcare technology today is Big Data and the use of AI. Today, there is no way to accurately predict the outcomes of interventions among individuals with developmental disabilities. Rethink is helping address this issue by gathering the largest data set of outcomes associated with this population, a data set that one day will be used to develop the right treatment protocols and facilitate the predictability of outcomes.
Kindly provide a brief insight into the challenges Rethink is trying to address? How are you doing it?
Rethink is set out to create a scalable solution that would make clinical best practice treatment tools and supports available to the individual and their caregiver(s) no matter where they are located. It is providing research-based teaching strategies grounded in the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). The award-winning Rethink program includes a comprehensive online individualized treatment program with over 1,500 video-based demonstrations - developed by internationally-recognized experts in the field - to train caregivers, parents, professional and paraprofessional staff how to manage problem behaviors as well as teach an individual with a developmental disability critical skills. In addition, Program Specialists can also utilize Rethink as a form of job-embedded professional development and to augment coaching caregivers and other support staff. Rethink also offers a range of technology-enabled remote service options, ranging from short-term web-based consultations with Rethink’s Board-certified behavioral therapists to ongoing program development initiatives supported by an in-house team of clinicians. In addition, Rethink’s practice management offering allows for the tracking of service authorizations and the cost of treatment as it relates to clinical outcomes. Rethink serves individuals at all levels of development and ages, ranging from the point of diagnosis through early adulthood.
What is Rethink Behavioral Health? What are the features and benefits your clients gain out of this?
Rethink offers the industry-leading practice management platform for behavioral health providers specializing in individuals with autism and related disorders. Used by hundreds of providers serving tens of thousands of children nationwide, the software helps improve treatment outcomes by simplifying/automating workflows, improving staff training, and ensuring standardization and clinical fidelity of care delivery.
How is your Employee Benefits and Rethink Ed solution enabling a much swifter and intuitive experience to your clients?
Employee Benefits – Rethink offers the industry-leading training and support platform for employees caring for dependents with a developmental disability. Our clients range from employers with under 1000 employees to over 500,000 employees. The Rethink program helps support these employees, directly impacting their productivity in the workplace, and helps employers create a culture of wellness for their entire workforce.
Rethink Ed – Rethink offers the industry-leading special needs management platform for public school districts. Serving all students with a special need as well as those requiring behavior supports, the Rethink program is used by hundreds of districts in all 50 states. The Rethink program allows districts to fully meet Federal IDEA requirements as well as a variety of state-based legislative mandates to provide an adequate education to students with a special need.
What does innovation mean at Rethink? Kindly walk us through your innovation lab.
Innovation to us means first and foremost recognizing the problem in the market that we are seeking to address and truly understanding the needs of the customer before developing unique and scalable solutions to address those needs. In our case, the problem we are solving is the exploding population with a developmental disability and a severe shortage of trained clinicians available to serve them. In addition, the Rethink platform, while robust and best-practice, is both web-based and incredibly easy to use, driving scale and rapid adoption.
Kindly walk us through the work culture at Rethink. How does the work culture translate to your clients?
Rethink is unique in the marketplace by offering a scalable and fully integrated solution to addressing the needs of individuals with a developmental disability and their caregivers. Rethink’s employees share a deep passion for having a social impact and drive continuous innovation in the products that Rethink offers.
Please provide us with a case study with one of your clients elaborating on how they have benefitted from your solutions.
One of the most critical needs in employee benefits is supporting employees caring for a child with a developmental disability such as autism or ADHD. Costco Wholesale decided to be proactive and offer unique supports such as the Rethink program to these employees, who make up nearly 20% of the workforce. As Donna Sexton, the benefits administrator at Costco, noted: no other benefit offering received so much attention and so many letters of thanks to Costco’s president thanking him for offering the Rethink program and expressing what a difference it made in their lives.
What is the roadmap ahead? What other additions or sophistication would you envision or currently working on to strengthen your solution set in the coming days?
We are in the process of expanding our core product offering beyond treatment tools and supports for dependents with a developmental disability and their caregivers to adults with a developmental disability, including supporting those individuals with a Neurodiverse condition in the workplace. Also, the recent COVID-19 situation has created additional strains on the mental health and wellbeing of employees.
Is there anything else we have missed to cover or something you would like us to highlight specifically?
Despite what many may think, building a successful company does not happen overnight. There is the expression “the 10 year overnight success.” This is particularly true for entrepreneurs, and successful ones need to be willing to pivot their business strategy to respond to changing market conditions as well as to have the patience to play the long game and be willing and able to move the ball down the field a little bit every day.
About the CEO
Daniel A. Etra is the Co-founder and CEO of Rethink Autism, Inc. With over two decades of successful international business experience, including 15 years as a serial entrepreneur, Mr. Etra was Co-Founder & CEO of R.E.R. International, a global supplier of printed materials to the retail industry. Besides, Mr. Etra served in the Israel Defense Forces and worked at Wasserstein, Perella & Co., specializing in M&A in the fields of healthcare, technology, and natural resources.
Mr. Etra has won numerous awards, including the Inc. 500, the Deloitte Technology Fast 500, the SmartCEO Future 50, and CEO of the Year from Industry Era and Corporate Vision Magazines. He is also a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO). He has an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA in Economics from Yale University.
“To inspire and empower individuals with developmental disabilities and those who support them.”