TryCycle Data Systems (TDS) was born out of an epiphany that was reached by a couple of students pursuing Master of Arts degrees in Organizational Leadership. In a restaurant in the shadows of Yale University, a conversation about current events in Connecticut in 2012 turned to the State’s opioid crisis, which was rampaging and killing people at an ever-increasing rate, with no prospect of it relenting.

While experts in the fields of addictions medicine, primary care, mental health, and affiliated disciplines sought solutions, and politicians decided on where the crisis fit in the policy conversations, it became obvious that there was no easy way out. In fact, everything done in the past was proving ineffective against the wave of addiction-related casualties – those using substances and those in their orbits who were suffering immense loss and grief.

The two students recognized that working in silos, asserting one ineffective model over another, and relying on the status quo for solutions was not the way forward. Something new and innovative was needed. We needed to “Try” something new and different to break the “Cycle” of problematic substance use that builds trust, and preserves the dignity of the person seeking treatment. What if we could create a compassionate “digital tether” between clinicians and clients that allowed for the secure flow of real-time information between them to inform treatment decisions? And what if these solutions actually improved outcomes and ultimately reduced the burden on our health care systems while reducing the costs associated with hospitalizations?

That was ten years ago, and the dinner conversation has given rise to a company that is now leading the way in data-driven solutions to mental health and substance use treatment. TDS has held firm to its mission to change the way that we approach complex problems – it was clear that big problems don’t always require big solutions. Sometimes the best ideas are those that are the most subtle and nuanced. That’s exactly the approach that TryCycle Data Systems took when it accepted the challenge to tackle the huge problems associated with Mental Health and Substance Use disorders.

Deconstructing a behavioural health system that was designed to fix problems after they occurred and working with a vision to reimagine and reconstruct a proactive solution was TryCycle’s first test. Front line health professionals needed new ways to help improve their decision-making and the TryCycle team knew that data would be the way forward.

Applications that harness TryCycle’s determination to improve outcomes by marrying technological innovation, research, and human connection are at work in communities across Canada and the United States. At the core are solutions that stimulate human connectivity, support treatment goals, and reduce the feelings of isolation often reported by clients. Fundamental gestures such as asking more questions, communicating empathy and compassion, and preserving dignity are forging a much-needed connection with clients. TryCycle is helping clinicians and clients bridge the gap between the need for connections and clinical outcomes.