Sondermind CEO Mark Frank talks Total Brain acquisition and what's next for the company

Steven Loeb · November 18, 2022 · Short URL:

Total Brain is a neuroscience-based mental health and brain performance app

Unlike with physical health, it's hard to actually gauge whether or not treatments are actually working. Most assessments are self-reported, and there are few objective measurements to know if the patient is actually improving.

SonderMind is a digital behavioral health and telehealth company that's looking to change that by putting big data to use, not only to match therapists and patients, but to provide therapists with a suite of applications that generate a lot of data, which can be used to to tell them about how their clients are doing, so they can improve care and outcomes for their patients.

Now the company is going deeper into measuring outcomes with the acquisition of Total Brain earlier this week, a neuroscience-based mental health and brain performance app. No financial terms of the deal were disclosed, but Total Brain, which was previously listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, has now been taken private through this acquisition.

This is SonderMind's third acquisition after buying Uvize, a provider of mentorship software for organizations to accelerate and improve connections between mentors and proteges, in 2016, and then purchasing predictive analytics platform Qntfy in October of last year. 

Mark Frank, co-founder and CEO of SonderMind, spoke to VatorNews about this acquisition, why Total Brain was a good fit for SonderMind's platform, and what it means for the company going forward.

VatorNews: Tell me about Total Brain and what they do. What problem do they solve and how do they solve it?

Mark Frank: Total Brain is a SaaS business with an app backed by decades of peer-reviewed scientific research that improves mental and emotional awareness and wellbeing. It has cognitive assessments and related support like meditation, sleep assistance, digital CBT and brain training to improve mental wellbeing.

The problem TotalBrain is helping us solve is twofold: one, expanding our offering from therapy and clinical care to a full suite of digital tools to support the broadest part of the population - before, during and after a potential need for therapy. Two, helping us solve is the lack of objective data in mental health.

For example, in physical health, you go to the orthopedist and say, "this hurts," they take an x-ray, see it is broken, follow a treatment plan, take another x-ray to show whether you’re better. There is clear data to prove or disprove whether you’re healed. Not in mental health. We have to be able to measure wellness and progress if we’re to improve mental healthcare delivery and outcomes. That’s what we will be able to do together.

Total Brain gives us an objective, science-backed, clinically-validated tool to engage with individuals at every step of their mental wellness journey, whether outside of therapy or within a relationship with a therapist. Say you’re having trouble sleeping: if you’re using the app on your own, you could try neurotunes for sleep to help calm your brain before bed. Or, if you’re seeing a therapist, giving them access to your data on the app could lead them to make a similar recommendation to try neurotunes to help train your brain to be more receptive to the therapeutic process.

This builds on the research we are already doing with University of Denver researchers to dig into therapy outcomes and impact of measurement based care techniques.

VN: How does their solution enhance SonderMind? What are they providing that you didn't have before or that you needed?

MF: Total Brain will allow SonderMind to augment our existing high-quality therapy to reach people before entering therapy, in between sessions, or after winding down therapy–truly, wherever they are–at both at the individual health or population health level.

What made Total Brain stand out amongst the many other self-serve mental assessment and wellness apps is that they are backed by many years of clinical research and peer-reviewed validation. It has the largest standardized neuroscience data set in the world. The app is not just an assessment, or brain training exercises, or a database to provide population health insights. All of these components come together to help individuals benchmark and the app to better personalize and optimize over time.

VN: Will Total Brain remain a standalone company or will they be shutting down now that you have acquired them?

MF: Total Brain is now a part of SonderMind. We currently plan to continue all of the operations of the pre-existing business, currently operating as Total Brain, a SonderMind Company.

VN: Will you be incorporating any of their technology into SonderMind? If so, what will that change about your current offering?

MF: Yes, we acquired Total Brain to deliver a comprehensive offering that allows us to address needs at a population health level and individual level. We will be able to meet people where they are with a highly personal care journey. From individual interventions to access to therapists, we can make it a one stop shop.

VN: What will patients and therapists see that's different now that Total Brain is part of SonderMind?

MF: In the future, clients will be able to share their data from the app with their therapist, who will be able to integrate that information into their care plan and  offer recommendations on interventions accessed through the app.

Right now, we have 7 or 9 question assessments (PHQ-9, GAD-7) that we use as part of measurement based care, but we can and should get deeper assessments to understand what is going on with individuals and to personalize their care and interventions. Total Brain will help us do that.

VN: Will any of Total Brain's employees be coming to work at the company? If so, in what capacity?

MF: More than 30 Total Brain employees came over to SonderMind to support the current and future offerings.

VN: What do you see as success when it comes to this acquisition? What are you hoping to achieve?

MF: We want to meet people wherever they are in their mental wellness journey. Day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month, that can change. You might be feeling well one day and a life event happens the next that causes anxiety, and we want to be there to support on both types of days.

For enterprise customers, success will look like providing a comprehensive offering that makes the mental health journey seamless: from individual engagement with an app to quick, high-quality matches to therapists and back again.

For individuals, success will look like navigating the ups and downs of mental health, delivering an offering that allows them to deal with minor issues or quickly access care when needs become more acute. 

For therapists, success will look like equipping them with data and tools that enhance their delivery of high-quality care and allow them to better measure client progress. 

VN: Is there anything else that I should know?

MF: This offering will revolutionize mental health, and I am very excited to do the work to bring it to market.

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