In the past couple of years, Ginger.io has transformed itself from a mental health management technology business which used people’s smartphone behavior to identify patterns and gather insights on their mental health for hospitals to a healthcare provider that provides access to licensed therapists through its app, according to an announcement from the company this week.
Ginger.io provides the app through UnitedHealthcare, Optum and more than 25 self-insured employers, the company release said.
“We believe that the human-to-human experience is essential for emotional and mental health support. By integrating meaningful data and machine learning into the process, we built the first modern, nationwide behavioral health system that is based on measurement-based care,” said Karan Singh, Ginger.io cofounder in the release.
Ginger.io Cofounder and CEO Dr. Anmol Madan told MobiHealthNews that the company changed its approach because its model would take too long for the healthcare industry to adopt.
We were making a lot of progress there; we had 40 different hospitals that were using our technology. But it was just a slow process and we felt that … by bringing to bear the clinical components and combining it with the technology, we could work directly with the people who are paying for healthcare — i.e. the employers, the average consumer, the health plans — and we could offer the full service.”
The company’s revised approach involves a balance between cognitive behavioral therapy content with information on how to better cope with conditions such as depression and providing video visits with licensed therapists and board-certified psychiatrists, who could prescribe medication depending on the state.
Karan also explained that the company takes a page from Lyft in that it encourages patients to rate the quality of these interactions as a way of improving its service.
Ginger.io’s technology was originally developed for behavioral health researchers in, but went through multiple iterations to respond to an expanding user base.
In 2015, Ginger.io raised $20 million from Kaiser Permanente Ventures, Khosla Ventures and True Ventures to deepen and expand its core mental health platform.
Although Ginger.io has changed its model, there are a couple of companies that see the value of using smartphones as a vehicle for collecting data to assess emotion, cognition, and behavior.
Mindstrong refers to this as digital phenotyping. Cofounder and president Thomas Insel worked as director of the National Institute of Mental Health for 13 years before joining Google’s healthcare arm Verily and subsequently, Mindstrong.
In June, Mindstrong raised $14 million in a Series A round led by Foresite Capital and ARCH Venture Partners. Optum Ventures, Berggruen Holdings and the One Mind Brain Health Impact Fund also took part in the funding round to help support product development and the growth of Mindstrong’s clinical operations team.
HealthRhythms is similar but different in that it aggregates data from a wider range of devices. In addition to smartphones, it also taps wearables and connected devices, examines data on physical activity and usage, rates of speech and looks for patterns that point to changes in behavioral health.
Photo: Andrzej Wokcicki, Getty Images