Listen to the full interview here.

Jennifer Sharpe Potter, PhD, MPH, wants UT Health San Antonio’s Be Well Institute on Substance Use and Related Disorders to be the best substance use disorder institute in the world.

Jennifer Potter, PhD, MPH is Vice President for Research and Founding Director of UT Health San Antonio's Be Well Institute.
Jennifer Potter, PhD, MPH is Vice President for Research and Founding Director of UT Health San Antonio's Be Well Institute.

"And we're going to do that by developing the very best treatments," she said. "We're going to do that by being a model and a beacon for stigma free, education and service delivery, because every life is worth saving."

Be Well Texas is already revolutionizing how substance use disorder is treated in Texas. "The first thing it's going to sound different is it's outpatient. And it also is different because it's virtual," she said.

This makes services accessible to more people in every corner of the state.

"For something that can be so stigmatizing, the privacy and the safety that's afforded to you when you're doing a telehealth visit or a video visit is actually lowering the barrier to entry into treatment," she said.

Potter wants the institute to advance our understanding of substance use disorders and how to best treat them. For example, they’re testing an app they hope will improve outcomes for those in treatment for opioid use disorder.

"We use science to anchor, and then we act practically and locally, and we try to understand people's struggles and lower the barriers for them to get the help they need," she said. "Because no one should die alone from a preventable condition. And this is preventable."

Science & Medicine is a collaboration between TPR and The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio that explores how scientific discovery in San Antonio advances the way medicine is practiced everywhere.

UT Health San Antonio is studying an app that it hopes will improve outcomes for people being treated for substance use disorders. The app is called KIOS, and Dr. Jennifer Sharpe Potter described it as a prescription digital therapeutic.

“Which is a long way of saying this could be something that's essentially prescribed by a doctor,” she said.

Potter is the founding director of UT Health San Antonio’s Be Well Institute on Substance Use and Related Disorders, which includes Be Well Texas.

“The app is intended to help you stay in treatment, help you navigate if there are issues or complexities in how you're feeling. It helps with mood and other issues like that,” she explained.

This app is a home-grown product, Potter added.

“This is something that was developed here locally in San Antonio,” she said. “We're testing it here in San Antonio at the clinic and, depending on the results, will be able to introduce that in the marketplace."

Potter is recruiting people locally to participate in a clinical trial. They will use the app as part of their treatment for substance use disorder.

“If it works and then be able to submit to the FDA that this is something that a health care provider could prescribe,” she said.

Learn more about the clinical trial, including how to enroll, here.