Splash winner Breakthrough bags $5M for Web counseling

Faith Merino · July 11, 2013 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/3095

The telepsychiatry platform allows users to talk to a mental health care provider online

The state of mental health care in the U.S. is bleak. Over 67 million Americans need mental health care, but only a third actually receive it, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Currently, one-fifth to one-third of the nation’s uninsured are suffering from mental health disorders, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration.

Starting next year, the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) will require certain insurance plans to cover mental health and substance abuse disorders, but there are other obstacles standing between sufferers and the mental health services they need. There’s the social stigma of seeking help, as well as a lack of providers for certain specialties.

One company that’s making it easier for patients to personalize mental health care and move it into the comfort of their own home is Breakthrough, Vator Splash SF winner from 2010. The company announced Thursday that it has raised $5 million in a Series A round led by Social+Capital Partnership, with help from First Round Capital and Great Oaks Venture Capital. The new capital brings Breakthrough’s total raised to $6 million.

The Redwood City-based startup currently covers some two million health plan members who are making use of the site’s online counseling and telepsychiatry service. Users can sign up on the site and immediately locate a mental health care provider by type (marriage and family therapist, psychiatrist, clinical social worker, etc.), location, insurance plan, and issue or specialty (anger management, depression, relationships, etc.). In the event of an emergency, users can find providers that are online now.

Unlike other telepsychiatry services which charge patients out-of-pocket, Breakthrough accepts insurance, covering those with Blue Shield of California and Magellan. The company expects to sign on one more major national insurer by the end of the year.

While Breakthrough isn’t sharing user numbers, it does say that fully 73% of users rebook with a therapist. The average number of sessions per user is six. The platform currently has 30 mental health care providers in its network and is slated to have hundreds more within the next 18 months.

“Based on research and our own experience, we know the model and telehealth are effective and solve major issues. At this point it's all about bringing more insurers and providers on board, as well as educating the public about the available opportunity,” said CEO Mark Goldenson, in an email.

The company plans to use the new capital from this round to grow the engineering, sales, and marketing teams, as well as to expand the provider network of therapists, counselors, and psychologists. Additionally, Breakthrough plans to expand to a couple more states by the end of the year.

Breakthrough won Vator Splash SF back in 2010, where the company got a chance to present in front of a panel of investors, including Rob Hayes of First Round Capital.

“We love investing in early leaders of inevitable markets,” said Hayes, in a statement. “Breakthrough is leading a market that is going to become mainstream. We’re very excited to help them build a strong business that can also do a lot of good.”


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Breakthrough.com connects mental health providers with clients via video, phone, email, and chat.

Fifty eight million Americans have a mental illness and millions more struggle with stress and relationship issues. Therapy and medications work, but are stigmatizing, hard to access, costly, and inconvenient. Telemedicine has been shown to address these issues.

Clients can search for providers on a variety of criteria, be anonymous, take diagnostic tests, seek peer support in free communities, and engage in sessions via secure video, phone, email, and chat. 

Providers such as psychologists, counselors, and social workers can hold secure sessions and build an online profile with their prices, mediums, degrees, styles, specialties, and associations. Breakthrough confirms all providers are credentialed professionals.

Breakthrough can also help health plans, hospitals, schools, prisons, employee assistance programs, and veteran groups.  Breakthrough can also help clients and providers receive insurance reimbursement so that treatment is low cost or free.

A video of Breakthrough's launch at TechCrunch50 is here:







Mark Goldenson

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