By Riley Kaminer
The state of mental health in America is dire. A study from the National Council for Mental Wellbeing reports that 42% of U.S. adults that needed care in the last 12 months did not get it due to costs and other barriers. And the need is massive: in 2019, almost 50 million Americans experienced a mental illness.
Miami-based Brave Health is on a mission to help Americans gain access to behavioral health services. To accomplish this, the startup has developed a virtual community mental health center and engagement platform.
The origins for Brave Health stem from co-founder and CEO Anna Lindow’s time at tech education organization General Assembly. After landing in Miami in 2016, Lindow began to look into the opportunities for digital solutions to behavioral health issues, initially on the backdrop of the opioid epidemic.
“Once I started working on Brave, I realized the need was broader than that,” Lindow told Refresh Miami. She quickly came to realize that there was an unmet need: Serving clients who are on Medicaid.
Brave Health provides telehealth-enabled counseling, therapy, psychiatry, and medication management to Medicaid patients as well as patients with private healthcare plans. They treat a wide range of mental health and substance use disorders, all through their virtual platform.
Lindow emphasized that tracking and measuring Brave’s impact is central to the company’s operations. First, they measure patient engagement: “If you can’t reach someone, you can’t treat them,” Lindow explained. Second is efficacy: how the patient is doing. Third is efficiency, or how far the investment has gone in improving health outcomes.
Since Brave Health began operations in 2019, Lindow reports that the results of all of these metrics are positive. “We can typically contact 90% of the individuals who are referred to us,” she said.
Lindow noted that getting behavioral health treatment – especially via telehealth – is a new experience for many people. But two thirds of people Brave Health interacts with end up becoming patients, in part thanks to the startup’s educational component that teaches new patients what to expect with their treatment.
The market for virtual behavioral health platforms is crowded, with demand soaring. According to Lindow, Brave Health stands out in a few ways. Its focus on Medicaid is a key differentiator, since many platforms do not accept that kind of coverage – or even private insurance, for that matter. Lindow also asserted that the patient engagement Brave Health provides is unique.
And Brave Health’s focus on value-based care – reimbursing providers based on the quality of care rather than the quantity – is another distinctive aspect. In an industry dominated by large, legacy providers, this is just one of the ways that startups like Brave Health can offer a better alternative.
“The power of startups to innovate in the healthcare space is enormous,” said Lindow. “There is a huge amount of opportunity to change some of the industry’s operating practices and bring technology that gets used in other settings to healthcare.”
Last October, Brave Health raised a $10 million Series B led by City Light Capital, Union Square Ventures and Able Partners. So far, the company has raised $20.7 million overall.
Brave Health currently has over 300 employees, including practitioners. It is active in 18 states and covers upwards of 65 million Americans across 200 health plan contracts. In Lindow’s view, this is just the start.
“I’m really excited about continuing to expand our footprint across the country,” she said. “We’re also excited to continue working with health plans to evolve reimbursement models.”
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