Four Digital Point-of-Care Startups Changing Behavioral Health
While Behavioral Health innovations, new business models and the shift to virtual care were already booming prior to 2020, they have now gained center stage. The reason is clear — the pandemic itself has been stressful for everyone. From Baby Boomers to Generation Z, each life stage comes with its own unique set of stressors during a global crisis, and no one is immune.
While one in 5 Americans already have some type of mental health condition, the pandemic has given most a reason to seek some type of professional help to learn coping strategies for the anxiety caused by global uncertainty.
The decades-old business model has shifted, and while the $100-$400+ in-person therapy visit still exists, many companies and employers realize offering virtual video visits, phone appts, chat-app therapy, coaching and even AI-powered solutions fit into people’s lives better, and not just during a pandemic.
Here are four startups on the cutting edge of behavioral health with distinctly different virtual offerings instead of a typical 50 minute in-person appointment in a clinic.
Behavioral Health Coaching + Companion Wearable
Feel Therapeutics is one of the virtual behavioral health companies that combines Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) with coaching. Through a smart wristband with 5 sensors, Feel analyzes heart rate, heart rate variability, temperature and electrodermal response, also known as galvanic skin response. Electrodermal response is a measurement of the electrical changes in sweat glands. This has been shown to help categorize someone’s emotional state. By leveraging cutting-edge AI, Feel is able to learn about an individual’s normal daily patterns and can identify the individual’s emotional changes. That in turn helps to identify triggers so Feel can provide personalized guidance to help that individual learn how to regulate their negative emotions. Personalized behavioral medicine where and when someone needs it the most.
Freemium Behavioral Health
CEO Ron Gentile
There are many direct-to-consumer and B2B2C smartphone apps available that are free for the basic app, or users can pay a monthly subscription fee for the premium version. In some cases, the B2B2C means the premium version is available for free through an employer’s wellness program. Moodfit is one example of a freemium app that anyone can access for free. Because Moodfit recognizes there is no one-size-fits-all approach to behavioral health, it works with the user to come up with a personalized plan. The plan could include different approaches, such as CBT, goal setting, meditations, mood journaling, and breathing exercises.
Addressing the Unique Needs of a Specific Group
There are behavioral health apps specifically focused on a minority group, providing a much-needed safe haven and product that understands that group’s unique needs. Co-founded by Marah Lidey and Naomi Hirabayashi, Shine is a great example of a BIPOC-centered behavioral health app. They initially founded the company because they didn’t see themselves represented in mainstream behavioral health. It turns out, only about 1/3 of Black adults receive the behavioral healthcare they need, and many times it is due to a lack of access to tools and providers.
What makes Shine so different is that the team consists of 80% minorities, and the content creators are mostly black. Every group has a unique set of challenges, language, and communication style, which hadn’t been recognized in mainstream healthcare until recently. Customized self-care plans help users notice their thoughts and gain power over them, and ultimately feel like they are seen and heard in the world of self-care. Shine has created a community that is inclusive and representative of their users.
Democratizing Behavioral Health with AI Chatbots: No Human Needed
The WoeBot mental health chatbot was originally created by Stanford psychologists and has now been used in over 120 countries. They have more than $123M in funding, with some important investors including Bayer, BlackRock, NEA, Jazz Venture Partners, and Andrew Ng’s AI fund. Similar to Digital Therapeutics like Pear Therapeutics, WoeBot uses the gold standard in therapy, Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), to help the patient with everything from depression to anxiety and more. It also uses some elements from interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT). In 2021, they were granted a Breakthrough Device Designation for their digital therapeutic for postpartum depression (PPD).
Because WoeBot is AI-based, the software has the ability to learn about the individual over time and alter the CBT approach based on that data. WoeBot has a free version anyone can use, and it can reach people outside of the traditional healthcare system, on-demand when they need it the most. The best healthcare fits into the individual’s daily workflow, not just the healthcare professional’s daily workflow. This is the type of innovative solution that scales across the globe and democratizes CBT-based behavioral healthcare to anyone with a device and connectivity.