Ginger teams up with Capsule to offer same-day mental health medication delivery

Steven Loeb · February 24, 2021 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/51dd
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Members can use Capsule to have their medications delivered at no additional cost

It's been pretty well documented by now that pandemic worsened the mental health crisis in the US, leading to higher rates of anxiety and depression. What maybe hasn't been reported as much is that it has also led to an increase in the number of people taking medications to treat those conditions.

Ginger, an on-demand mental health company providing access to emotional support via coaching, therapy and psychiatry, saw a 6x increase in the volume of medications prescribed by its psychiatrists in 2020 compared to 2019. At the same time, though, the company also saw that patients were struggling to get the medications; this was something that was a problem even before COVID hit, but which became even worse over the last year.

That's why Ginger announced on Wednesday that it partnered with online pharmacy Capsule, enabling it to offer its patients same-day delivery for their mental health medication at no additional cost.

"Ginger chose a partnership with Capsule to improve convenience and safety for our members, and also to address one of the growing sub-crises in mental healthcare: medication management," Karan Singh, Ginger's co-founder and COO, told VatorNews.

"It’s well evidenced that even before COVID-19, patients struggled to receive the right support; 2011 research showed that 70 percent of Americans taking an antidepressant had not seen a mental health professional in the past year."

Ginger had previously given its members a few option for picking up their medication, including from a brick-and-mortar pharmacy, which Singh noted "can be a health safety challenge during COVID-19," or they could receive via their health plan’s mail-order program, which has historically seen low utilization. 

"This partnership with Capsule helps to alleviate the safety concerns, improve the speed at which members can receive their medications, and will also provide us with a wealth of data and insight to help improve the management of medications, and even to transition members off when appropriate."

While the conventional pharmacy fill rate is 35 to 50 percent, thanks to the partnership with Capsule, Ginger is now expected to see up to a 75 percent fill rate. 

Founded in 2011, Ginger deploys a collaborative care model when it comes to combating mental health issues: when someone first comes onto the platform they start interacting with a coach. Those chats are monitored with natural language processing to determine the person's needs and the best actions to predict what will be most effective for them going forward. Only those who need it, and for those with more serious cases, are then referred up to seeing a psychiatrist for 

Since the start of the pandemic, Ginger has seen a spike in the number of people needing additional care: in a recent podcast with VatorNews, Glass revealed that, prior to the pandemic, about 90 percent of users had mild to moderate symptoms and stayed with the coach. During the pandemic, it became closer to 84 percent sticking with coaching only and 15 percent are escalating to higher levels of care.

Overall, Ginger, saw a 335 percent uptick in January compared to pre-COVID averages of members needing therapy and psychiatry support.

The New York City-based Capsule, which was founded in 2016, delivers medication to its users for free, without raising their copay.

The company works directly with doctors, who can prescribe medication through the platform; patients don't need an account before their doctor makes the prescription. The company texts the patient as soon as it receives their prescriptions at the phone number provided by their doctor and then texts the patients again to schedule a delivery. The company says it will have the medication delivered to the patient within two hours. 

Capsule also coordinates refills with the doctor and co-pays with the patient's insurance company.

There's no shortage of companies in the medication delivery space right now; alongside Capsule there's also NowRx, Blink Health, and Medly, not to mention PillPack and the recently introduced Amazon PharmacyGinger decided to partner with Capsule, however, because the two companies shared a vision of focusing on their members, Singh said.

"We are creating an experience that they love, that makes it easy for them to get access to care and the medications they need. In addition, we are excited by the ability to gain better visibility into data that will help us improve care on an ongoing basis. We look forward to scaling with Capsule as they expand to additional regions across the U.S., and continuing to optimize this capability for our members," he explained. 

Right now, delivery through Capsule is available to Ginger members in New York City, Chicago, Minneapolis, Boston, and Austin, though the company says it will be expanding to additional regions in the coming weeks and months. And there are plans to expand the partnership to also include drugs that don't fall under the mental health umbrella as well.

"As we expand the partnership, we plan to collaborate with Capsule’s pharmacists on members’ overall treatment - mental health and non-mental health related - to reduce the risk of adverse drug interactions, unnecessary medication dependency, and poor transition on and off medications," said Singh. 

Ultimately, the goal with this partnership is to create a frictionless experience for Ginger members, helping them manage their medications in a way that is more convenient, safe, and effective.

"This partnership builds on Ginger’s comprehensive approach to medication management, which brings together a team of behavioral health coaches, therapists, and psychiatrists who work together to prescribe medications, support adherence, and transition members off of medications when appropriate."

(Ginger CEO Russell Glass will be speaking at our May 19 Future of Mental and Behavioral virtual event. We'll have top-level VCs and C-level executives from the leading mental and behavioral companies, such as Teladoc's BetterHelp, Amwell, Doctor on Demand, Kaiser Permanente, Bessemer Ventures and more)

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