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We've all heard about the rising number of children being diagnosed with autism: according to the CDC, more than 1 in 54 children are diagnosed with autism in the United States in 2016, up from 1 in 150 in 2000. That's not to mention the more than 5 million American adults are on the autistic spectrum. Yet, the autism market has suffered from massive waitlists, poor clinical communications, and a lack of consistent clinical care.
That was the impetus behind Opya: the company specializes in early intervention for children who have autism, using a hybrid approach that combines in-person and virtual care.
Earlier this week the company announced it raised $15.4 million in a Series A funding round from new investors including Panoramic Ventures, SB Opportunity Fund, Disability Opportunity Fund, and Raven One Ventures. Prior investors Divergent Investments and Altitude Ventures also participated in this round.
"Opya was created to solve these problems, and the current funding round provides Opya with the resources to tackle these issues at scale," CEO Alden Romney told me.
"We're expanding geographically to help more children with autism, adding to our proprietary technology stack to increase effective communications, and investing in our clinical training department to ensure consistent clinical excellence across our service platforms."
Opya focuses on early intervention services for young kids who are newly diagnosed with autism, offering them with front-line clinicians who can provide intensive therapy in the home setting; the reason it does is this that, for young kids, it can be more comfortable than being dropped off at a clinic. Opya's lead clinicians can provide supervision virtually via a deployed iPad, to observe the therapy and the child's progress toward goals. Additionally, lead clinicians engage parents in the program via telehealth.
"All of this work is complemented by Opya's proprietary technology platform that allows for efficient, multidisciplinary communication between clinicians and families," said Romney.
Opya's platform not only works better for patients but also helps clinicians reduce their daily caseload: at Opya, lead clinicians have a caseload of five to 10 clients, which is lower than the industry standard of 10, 20 and even 30 clients.
"I strongly believe this lower caseload at Opya reduces burnout, provides greater connections with families, and generates superior clinical outcomes. It's a key differentiating feature for us to find and retain the best clinical talent in the marketplace."
Opya has more than 100 employees, up from 12 when COVID first hit in March 2020, and the company plans to use the new funding to add top leadership talent, including a Chief People Officer who will make sure that staff members feel supported every day that they are in the field. The funding will also go toward accelerating product innovation, enhancing the experience for parents and families.
"Currently, parents can take a video of their child's behavior at home and upload it, HIPAA compliant, to our app, sharing the video with our clinicians who can incorporate it into their programs. Parents can track the daily mood of their child to see improvements and progress over time. We will be investing in our proprietary technology to create connections and community for our parents so they don't feel so alone in their journey," Romney explained.
Along with the funding, it was also announced that Austin Poole, Senior Vice President at Panoramic Ventures will join Opya's Board.
"I'm incredibly grateful to have a supportive and collaborative board that believes in Opya's mission to be the early intervention leader for kids with autism. Austin Poole from Panoramic Ventures is a wonderful addition to the Opya board and brings significant experience supporting growth-oriented healthcare companies so they can thrive. I'm looking forward to having Austin and Panoramic around the table with me."
The ultimate goal for Opya is to be the nationwide leader of early intervention services for children with autism.
"When someone hears of a friend or family member who has a child newly diagnosed with autism, I want them to share that Opya can help, because they know Opya provides the best clinical care and has passionate clinicians who help children achieve their goals and prepare for school," said Romney.
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