By Heather Mack
New York City-based AbleTo Inc., which makes a digital platform to connect individuals with licensed therapists and coaches, has closed $36.6 million in Series D funding led by Bain Capital Ventures.
The company, which was founded in 2008, works with employers and health plans to offer support to employees who have medical conditions that may be associated with -- or exacerbated by -- underlying behavioral health issues. The intention isn't for those with acute psychiatric illnesses such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, but for those experiencing additional mental stress because of their medical condition. For example, people with chronic conditions like diabetes who may experience depression or anxiety that impedes their ability to manage their condition or those who are recovering from a major procedure.
While not a medical-grade tool, the AbleTo platform is based on clinically validated assessments to screen for common behavioral health conditions, and it uses established cognitive behavioral therapy techniques. Based on an individual's needs, the web- and mobile-based platform designs personal self-management programs that are augmented with weekly virtual coaching sessions.
Chronic condition management is a big field in digital health, with dozens of so-called coaching and behavioral health tools available for a range of conditions. Many, like Omada Health, are geared toward prevention of diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Others work to address the general shortage of mental health services through telemedicine or take a broader approach like Happify or Joyable by offering apps for mental health and well-being.
AbleTo is a little different than all of those, and it is garnered a sizable market share, according to the company. It works with employers and large health plans across the U.S., including Aetna and leading statewide BlueCross BlueShield plans. Aetna has been working with the company for six years, and the two have published outcomes data in the American Journal of Managed Care showing a 31 percent reduction in hospitalizations over a six-month period.
"Millions of American adults have both a behavioral and medical health condition, and those types of co-morbidities are not easy problems to solve," said AbleTo President and CEO Rob Rebak. "You need technology and analytics to enable this type of care coordination, and you need to do it beyond little pilots."
AbleTo has raised $57.4 million in funding to date. Aetna Ventures, the investment arm of AbleTo's strategic partner, also contributed to the latest round, along with all existing investors, including .406 Ventures, BlueCross BlueShield Venture Partners, Sandbox Industries, HLM Venture Partners and Horizon Healthcare Services. The company plans to use the funding to build out new features on the platform and make strategic partnerships.
Bain Capital Ventures Managing Director Yumin Choi led the investment and will join AbleTo's board. He said the company's emphasis on clinical validation and outcomes drew his interest. Given AbleTo's large customer base and growing provider network, Mr. Choi sees the company as a leader in the effort to integrate physical and mental health services.
"The idea of mental wellness and stress reduction has been popular in everyday life, but the medical community is just now starting to be open to the fact that you need to address mental and behavioral health as well as the body," said Mr. Choi. "This is where the market is going."