Quit Genius – Meet a Vendor

Shortlister hosted Yusuf Sherwani, MD, CEO, and Jonathan Barry, MSPH, National Sales Director at Quit Genius to share about their new approach to tobacco cessation and addiction.



Tobacco users cost employers $3,598 more in direct healthcare claims per year.  Because nicotine addiction has a massive physiological effect on a person’s body, it is a primary risk factor for high-cost conditions such as surgical complications, cardiovascular events, cancer, pregnancy complications and diabetes complications.

Employers have long realized the link between tobacco use and medical claims, so it was the first area affected by a surcharge.  Since the ACA was introduced, 47% of employers with more than 500 employees now have some kind of tobacco premium in place.  These can vary from as little as $240 to as high as $1,733 with the medium surcharge being $783.  Only 3% of the tobacco users you started off with will quit smoking and incur cost savings without an effective and engaging tobacco cessation program.



Smoking and COVID-19

Recent studies coming out of China and Europe suggest that smokers are 40% more likely to have severe symptoms of COVID-19 and are 140% more likely to be admitted to an ICU, need mechanical ventilation or die.  While that sounds scary, research also shows that within two weeks of quitting smoking, your immune system recovers significantly, lowering that risk factor.

That’s why Quit Genius is making membership available to employers for free in March and April to help protect your population against the threat of COVID-19.



The CDC recommends a combination therapy of high-intensity behavioral support, medication and social support.  While effective, twelve weeks of high-intensity face-to-face counselling has traditionally been prohibitively expensive, so employers have replied on quit lines that offer a much more watered-down approach.  The challenge is that most quit lines have a poor user experience as you speak to a different coach every time, resulting in very low long-term quit rates of less than 15%.

Behavioral Support


Quit Genius takes a fresh approach to helping people quit.  There are four main components to their program:

1. A mobile app that delivers a personalized cognitive behavioral journey to each user through a program built by a world leading expert

2. A personal quit coach, who is also a certified tobacco treatment specialist, that members can speak to via app or telephone. There are two main differences to the quit line service:

Members have the same quit coach throughout their whole journey, allowing them to develop rapport with that coach
Members can speak to their quit coach, whenever, wherever and as many times as they please
3. A carbon monoxide breath sensor that measures a user’s level of a toxic gas called Carbon Monoxide that is produced from cigarette smoke. Users find it incredibly motivating to track their progress and track their carbon monoxide levels as they go down (levels of a smoker: 100, levels of a non-smoker <5)
4. 12 weeks of nicotine gum and patches mailed directly to the member with a personalized nicotine replacement therapy program
This remote, high-intensity approach has resulted in industry-leading quit rates three times higher in effectiveness than even face-to-face therapy, as it can be provided from the convenience of people’s home.  Quit Genius is also the only program to be validated, with a 52% quit rate, in a randomized-controlled trial, which is the gold-standard method of proving effectiveness.
As much as we like to silo employees into specific buckets, the reality is much messier.  According to Quit Genius’ data, 30% of their members also have a drinking problem.  Many members are also addicted to opioids or have an underlying behavioral mental health issue.  The challenge of poly-substance addictions is one that affects us all and has significant implications to the bottom line.
It’s also an issue that can only be dealt with using a holistic and dynamic approach.  That’s why Quit Genius is launching the world’s first dynamic digital therapy for addictions, encompassing tobacco, vaping, alcohol and opioid use.  What makes their approach so unique is that the Quit Genius program will be tailored for your members irrespective of their individual addiction or combination of addictions.
It is important to go beyond the traditional quit lines and provide a program that offers holistic support for sustained behavior change. Quit Genus has demonstrated industry-leading quit rates in some of the largest employers and health systems in the world with their one-of-a-kind approach and we’re eager to see how they can apply that concept to alleviate addictions beyond smoking.



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