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A family-based approach for supporting mental healthcare for children K-12
Bambi Francisco Roizen interviews Rebecca Egger, CEO of Little Otter. Little Otter was founded by Dr. Helen Egger, a renowned child psychiatry expert and former chair of child and adolescent psychiatry at NYU Langone Health, and her daughter, Rebecca Egger, a computer scientist who previously worked on the Chan Zuckerberg Institute infectious disease program. The company’s services are built on proprietary assessments based on Helen Egger’s decades of research.
The past year has seen a big jump in children (5-12) going to the ER for mental health. Little Otter hopes to give children and families the tools they need to identify what's developmental and what's really a problem.
-- Little Otter is focused on providing family mental care for children K-12. The services are 100% virtual, which is ideal for children. You can see a child in their bedroom; you can involve multiple parents; children can be in a comfortable and safe place. Little Otter's super power is the family-based approach and the one-stop shop for families - all siblings and parents. While it's not mandated that parents have to also get treated, often they're taking therapy alongside their children.
-- The program starts with matching kids with the right care. There's a lot of kids who are overmedicated and over-diagnosed. There's so much mismatch with regards to what families need and what's provided.
-- Little Otter uses technology to streamline screening, triage and surveillance. The company's assessments of the children via one-on-one conversations are proprietary but the treatments are evidence-based standards, such as parent-interaction therapy and CBT, etc.
-- The majority of mental health diagnostics and prescriptions are conducted by pediatricians so Little Otter is building its relationship with many. Pediatricians plug into the company's software to access reports and updates.
-- Little Otter's founders do not believe that mental disorders are rising. It's just that more people are aware of mental health problems and the vast number of children dealing with such mental disorders but who've not been diagnosed.
-- Little Otter is currently cash pay. The pricing model is equivalent to current in-person models because virtual is just as good as in-person. Plus there are value-added services, such as unlimited texting and tracking progress. To get the assessment and triage, it is a $90, 30-minute assessment. It's not a subscription. Then you pay $200 per session. The company is currently in talks with payers to get insurance coverage.
-- What's broken with mental health for kids? With children you need to be providing a specific platform and care model. When you're working with a kid, you can't ask them how they feel. You have to understand how they're trying to express themselves to understand what's going on. Helen Egger developed the first assessment of mental health disorders in kids 0-7 yrs old. What's broken is that parents haven't been able to identify what's development or their kid saying in their own way: "I have an anxiety disorder?" That identification is hard to discern.
-- What about social Mom's and dad's shouldn't limit their kids' screen time if they're not spending time with their children. Just taking away screen time isn't enough.
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