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Mental health issues are not only prevalent, affecting around a quarter of the entire world population according to the World Health Organization, but it’s also expensive: people who suffer from mental health issues make six times more emergency room visits and wind up submitting $9,000 more per year in claims to their health insurance provider. The way we treat mental illness right now is not working for anybody.
Part of the problem, said George Eleftheriou, co-founder and CEO of Sentio Solutions, is that care providers "have not yet adequately responded to the burden of mental health disorders while poor quality of care continues to be a problem for many patients who receive treatment."
"Timely access to support is often a challenge, not only in rural or low-income communities, but also in large city environments. Despite surging demand, mental health support services are in short supply, with waiting times to see a therapist often reaching up to four months,” he said.
“Furthermore, no objective measures for mental health conditions exist as for physical illnesses and the current model of care doesn’t provide adequate supportive resources for people with mental health conditions outside their therapists’ office and at the time of need.”
Those problems are what prompted him to found Sentio, a company taking a new approach to mental health by developing both biomarkers and digital therapeutics. It combines remote therapy with an app and smart wristband, in order to monitor mental health in real-time.
It’s a solution that has caught the eye of investors; on Thursday, the company announced it has raised $4.5 million in seed funding led by Felicis Ventures, with participation from Anthemis and SOSV. This brings its total funding to date to $6.3 million.
Founded in 2015, Sentio recently launched the Feel Program which includes the Feel Emotion Sensor, a wristband that has integrated biosensors to continuously monitors a variety of physiological signals, along with the Feel app that connects to the wristband. The program also provides access to a licensed Feel therapist, so patients can have weekly, 15-minute remote sessions with a designated licensed therapist with expertise in cognitive behavioral therapy. Finally, Feel also providers online educational classes for patients.
Users on the Feel program typically include people suffering from, or at risk of, stress-related illness, anxiety, depression and burn-out. The company is also exploring the impact of our digital therapeutic on people with a primary physical condition such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma and underlying behavioral issues.
“The program is based on cognitive behavioral therapy, which is the only method that works, either administered in-person or digitally. Feel helps individuals who are at-risk or suffering from depression, anxiety, high stress, and burn-out develop better awareness, coping mechanisms and more positive emotional habits,” explained Eleftheriou.
“We strongly believe that Feel Program will remove suffering from mental health. With the Feel Program, people will have a holistic solution for their mental healthcare as care will be available to everyone 24/7 and access to data-driven personalized therapy will improve outcomes and clinical efficiency.”
While other mental health companies use digital means to make existing therapeutic methods more convenient and approachable, Eleftheriou believes that not only is that not enough, but that it contributes to the fact that issues, including long wait times and engagement with mental health services, haven’t been solved.
“For decades, healthcare providers have been able to use objective data to measure and track all types of physical disorders, yet there has been no such solution for mental health to improve clinical effectiveness. Historically, mental healthcare has only been provided at the therapist’s office during periodic check-ins and has relied on patient questionnaires,” he said.
“Because Feel constantly monitors a person’s emotional state, it is able to detect emotional changes and deploy on-time interventions faster than any other solution available, preventing visits to the emergency rooms. At the same time, Feel therapists receive continuous data about their patients’ emotional state, so when they see patients, they already know what is going on and can be up to four times more efficient in treating the issue.”
Sentio has already started two commercial programs in the U.S. and Europe, and the company expects those to expand to thousands of users by next year. From its studies so far, Sentio has already seen that the Feel program can achieve a 67 percent reduction in mental health symptoms, a 5x higher member engagement and satisfaction rate, and can provide access to mental healthcare 4x faster than traditional approaches.
The new funding that the company has raised will be used to expand access to the Feel program through partnerships with health plans, life insurance providers, employers, and health systems. The company recently partnered with one of the largest health plans in California, as well as a large health and life insurer in Europe.
“The Feel Program helps health plans and employers improve the emotional health of their members and employees, while significantly reducing the cost of medical expenses and productivity losses due to mental health,” said Eleftheriou.
“At the same time, we have partnered with prestigious medical institutions and universities across the U.S. and Europe to conduct clinical studies and research to validate our solution and promote innovation in digital therapeutics and biomarkers to facilitate prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of prevailing Mental Health Disorders. At the moment we are conducting 12 research studies with over a thousand participants to identify biomarkers for mental health.”
Sentio is coming along at a time when the conversation around how to talk about mental health conditions is changing rapidly, while, at the same time, technology has finally begun to address them as well.
The company’s ultimate goal and mission, Eleftheriou told me, “is to remove suffering from mental health,” and to create a “world where technology understands when someone is going through a depressive phase or panic attack, and provides support in their time of need so no one has to suffer alone ever again.”
“The mental health space has grown with a surprisingly fast-paced, and many exciting things have happened and are about to happen during the upcoming months. All people involved in the healthcare field have directed their attention to solve the big gap that exists in mental healthcare, and many different solutions come to solve a specific aspect of the problem,” he said.
“In this fast-paced mental healthcare transformation, I envision a world where technology understands when someone is going through a depressive phase or panic attack and provides support in their time of need so no one has to suffer alone ever again. At Sentio Solutions, we are working towards this vision. We are developing biomarkers and digital therapeutics that will help individuals to build better awareness and take care and responsibility for their emotional well being proactively, seeking and receiving support when they most need it.”
(Image source: myfeel.co)
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Joined Vator on
Sentio Solutions is developing digital biomarkers and therapeutics to change the way we diagnose, monitor, and care for Mental Health. Our first product, Feel is is an emotion-sensing wristband and an app that provides real-time monitoring and personalized interventions, for people that suffer from Anxiety and Depression.
Powered by Feel technology, Sentio is offering a 4-month Augmented Mental Health program targeted to Health Plans and Self-insured Employers. Our Augmented Mental Health program combines evidence-based techniques coming from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Mindfulness, Positive psychology with our proprietary emotion recognition technology. In particular, AMH consists of 4 components: Feel Wristband, Feel Mobile App, CBT Coach, Lessons.
With the Augmented Mental Health solution, Sentio aims to solve major problems related to Mental Health management. The company’s solution provides the following benefits:
- Increase access to mental health support
- Improve the quality of mental health services by offering 24/7 remotely support patients and/or high-risk individuals
- Reduce costs related to mental health treatment for the patient and consequent costs of service for insurance and healthcare providers
- Intervention: Illnesses like depression will be better managed before they can lead to life-threatening incidents such as suicide.
Joined Vator onI am the Co-founder & CEO of Sentio Solutions. The company focuses on the development of Feel, the first wristband that recognizes and tracks human emotions, to help users develop positive emotional habits and improve wellbeing.