Connect with us

Private Companies

A list of mental health startups in the Pacific Northwest, as pandemic fuels growth for sector

The pandemic has been hard on people’s mental health. And it’s changed almost everyone’s approach to everyday life, as Zoom, Teams, Slack and other…

Published

on

2Morrow, one of several mental health-related startups based in the Pacific Northwest, helps treat nicotine addiction. (2Morrow Photo)

The pandemic has been hard on people’s mental health. And it’s changed almost everyone’s approach to everyday life, as Zoom, Teams, Slack and other digital products mediate ever more human interactions.

Health companies saw the need and opportunity. In the last couple years, a host of new apps, telehealth services and other digital solutions have sprung up to support mental health. New startups have come on board, adding to a growing list of related companies, including many based in the Pacific Northwest (see a full list below).

The American Academy of Pediatrics and two other medical groups declared a national emergency last fall in child and adolescent health. Meanwhile, funding for mental health and wellness digital health companies has surged, reaching $5.5 billion globally in 2021, more than double the total from 2020, according to a report from CB Insights. And more established health companies like Seattle’s Accolade and 98point6 have built up new digital capabilities to treat the mind.

David Cooper, director of global mental health at Teladoc Health. (Jenn June Photo)

Business models are still emerging. “We’re not currently limited by our technology,” said David Cooper, a clinical psychologist and director of global mental health at Purchase, New York-based Teladoc Health. “We could be doing amazing things with the technology that we have, it’s just what’s sustainable and what can be paid for.”

Popular revenue sources are partnerships with employers to help workers manage stress, or with insurance companies to lower cost or increase access to treatment. Some startups directly charge patients or providers.

Direct reimbursement from insurance companies, another model, can be a challenge if a method has not been through the gamut of clinical testing, said Cooper, who previously oversaw partnerships at Seattle digital health company Xealth. Companies with products that haven’t shown efficacy need to be more careful about their claims, he added.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration provides a range of classifications for digital products to foster new ideas. “The FDA is doing a wonderful job, as best they can, to try to help companies understand a shifting landscape, in terms of not trying to not stifle innovation but also keeping an eye on patient safety,” said Cooper.

Innovators coming from outside the medical field, such as traditional software markets, have had to adapt to the slower pace of digital health. Cooper said that can be a challenge for people “used to the idea of ‘move fast and break things’, as opposed to go ‘slow and make sure nobody dies,’ which is what we try to adhere to in medicine.”

Asha Bauer, Psy.D., leads a workshop for clinicians on running a private practice in early 2020. Bauer is an advisor for Heard, a Seattle startup that builds software for mental health clinicians. (Heard Photo)

The pandemic made people more disconnected, and more reliant on their phones and laptops. Is it effective to seek digital solutions to mental health conditions that may be related to that trade-off and the loss of human connection? Cooper called that question “a bit divisive in the digital health community.”

Seeking mental health through a phone or laptop might feel natural and easy to some people. “I outsource my brain to my phone,” said Cooper. “It may feel less invasive coming from something that is already a part of my life.” 

In the future, more companies may combine virtual reality with mental health treatment, he said. Another trend to watch is combining digital health solutions with psychedelics, a still-unproven treatment approach.

Digital health is just one tool in a range of mental health options. Said Cooper: “Is it going to be appropriate for everyone? No. Is it going to be right for some people? Yes, absolutely. Then let’s make sure those people get the care they need, and that it works well for them.”

Below we showcase some Pacific Northwest digital health and telehealth startups focused on mental health. This is an active list, and we know there are more startups in the region. Email us at tips@geekwire.com with suggestions to add a company. 

2Morrow

Founded: 2011

Location: Bellevue, Wash.

What they do: Develop digital coaching software to help people reach health goals, such as quitting smoking.

CEO: Jo Masterson, a former nurse who previously held marketing roles at City University of Seattle and High 5 Software.

Related coverage: Behavioral science startup 2Morrow raises $1.5M to grow digital therapeutic platform

Aiberry

Founded: 2019

Location: Bellevue, Wash.

What they do: Use AI to analyzing patient voices, facial expressions and texts to help providers identify clinical needs.

CEO: Johan Bjorklund, a former VP at Ericsson who is also CEO at Bellevue-Wash.-based wireless service company Betacom.

Boulder Care

Founded: 2017

Location: Portland, Ore.

What they do: Telehealth treatment for opioid and alcohol use disorder.  

CEO: Stephanie Strong, former associate at Apple Tree Partners.

Related coverage: Portland startup aims to treat opioid addiction with tech as it raises $10.5M and partners with Premera

Charlie Health

Date founded: 2020

Location: Bozeman, Mont.

What they do: Provide individual and family therapy, and a fully virtual intensive outpatient program for teens and young adults.

CEO: Carter Barnhart, who previously served multiple roles at Newport Academy, a teen residential treatment program.

Heard

Date founded: 2019

Location: Seattle

What they do: Help mental health professionals manage bookkeeping, payroll and related services.

CEO: Andrew Riesen, formerly worked at an internal incubator inside PwC.

Related coverage: Seattle startup Heard raises $1.3M to help mental health professionals run their own business

Jaspr Health

Date founded: 2007

Location: Seattle

What they do: Help bring best practices to addressing suicidality to patients and emergency room clinicians, via a tablet-based solution.

CEO: Todd Cullen, previously CTO at business intelligence company Remarkably.

Joon Care

Date founded: 2019

Location: Seattle

What they do: Remote therapy for teens and young adults.

CEO: Josh Hearst, previously president and CEO at Walkscore.

Related coverage: With pandemic taking a toll on mental health, Joon Care raises $3.5M to help teens and young adults

Ksana Health

Date founded 2019

Location: Eugene, Ore.

What they do: Developing a “Fitbit” for mental health, involving real-time data collection and remote patient monitoring, as well as adaptive, continuous support for behavioral change.

CEO: Nick Allen, director of University of Oregon’s Center for Digital Mental Health.

Lyssn

Date founded: 2017

Location: Seattle

What they do: Use machine learning to analyze texts of therapist-patient conversations to provide feedback about providers.

CEO: David Atkins, a University of Washington research professor at the UW Behavioral Research in Technology and Engineering Center.

Related coverage: As mental health needs surge, this Seattle startup offers AI-powered analysis of therapy sessions

Mental Health Match

Date founded: 2019

Location: Portland, Ore.

What they do: Guide users through the process of finding a therapist.

CEO: Ryan Schwartz, a former media relations manager who worked as a strategist at public relations company LightBox Collaborative and at Wonder.

Related coverage: Mental Health Match helps people find the right therapist, and finds a new home in Portland

Owl

Date founded: 2013

Location: Portland, Ore.

What they do: Help automate screening and monitoring of patients, provides clinical and decision support, and reports individual and aggregated outcome data.

CEO: Eric Meier, previously CEO of Cervel Neurotech and Calypso Medical, and an executive director at Johnson & Johnson.

Related coverage: Owl Insights raises cash for mental health treatment software platform

Thrivelution

Date founded: 2020

Location: Seattle

What they do: Connect patients with mental health providers.

CEO: Colleen Hilton, a marriage and family therapist who was previously founder and CEO of Acuity Counseling, a private group practice acquired in 2021.

Valant

Date founded: 2005

Location: Seattle

What they do: Market electronic health record technology for behavioral health practitioners, integrated with services like scheduling and telehealth.

CEO: Ram Krishnan, former CEO of media company NTN Buzztime and a VP at GE Healthcare.

Related coverage: Valant raises $11M to develop software for behavioral health practitioners

Read More

Trending