Startups, Patient Engagement

Omada Health launches mental health programs using shuttered startup’s tech

The company has signed a perpetual licencing deal for the software, curriculum and content of Lantern, which built digital therapeutics for mental health conditions before shutting down operations last year.

Sad face depression

San Francisco, California-based chronic care management company Omada Health is launching new programs for depression and anxiety utilizing technology produced by defunct startup Lantern.

Lantern, which announced it was shutting down commercial operations last year after failing to find a viable revenue model, developed CBT-based digital therapies to help patients identify and restructure negative thoughts.

Omada Senior Director of Communication and Public Policy Adam Brickman said the company has entered into a perpetual licensing agreement for Lantern’s software, curriculum and content.

Omada will also bring on some of Lantern’s former staffers to help integrate and built out the company’s behavioral health capabilities.

While part of the rationale behind the deal was “opportunistic,” Omada executives also cited Lantern’s shared approach to careful clinical validation as one major factor bringing the companies together.

Omada was initially launched in 2011 as a digital therapeutics company helping to prevent obesity-related chronic diseases in patients by providing personalized health coaching and behavior change tools.

Since then the company has expanded its offerings for patients suffering from diabetes and hypertension and raised more than $120 million from investors like Andreesen Horowitz and Cigna.

Researchers have drawn connections between mental health and obesity-related chronic disease. Obese patients disease are far more likely to suffer from or develop behavioral health issues like depression and anxiety, which can also act as a barrier meeting physical health goals.

While Omada has long performed screenings of users for conditions like anxiety and depression, follow-up treatment was hampered by issues referring care out to behavioral health specialists.

The lack of coordinated care between mental and physical health is not a new problem. Carolyn Jasik, Omada’s vice president of medical affairs saw the disconnect first hand when working in the weight management field.

“For people struggling with obesity-related chronic disease to have mental health resources at your fingertips when those issues arise is very powerful,” Jasik said.

Jasik said the company intends to add specialists to its team to offer parallel behavioral health coaching services.

The next step for Jasik is to validate whether the new solutions work together and develop best practices in using the products in conjunction.

“We’re going to conduct the research studies with the joint solutions to understand whether our primary outcomes are improved with access to mental health care for weight loss, diabetes control and hypertension and ultimately does this improve medical cost control or the use of medical services,” Jasik said.

The new programs for depression and anxiety will eventually be offered to the company’s clients as an add on to existing Omada offerings or as a standalone product. Omada’s customer base is made up of health plans and employers like Costco and Kaiser Permanente.

While the company’s foray into behavioral health marks a first for the host of startups looking toward technology for better chronic care management, it’s not likely that they will be alone for long.

Competitor Livongo Health has expanded from its initial diabetes management program into indications like hypertension has also indicated behavioral health will also soon be on the docket.

Photo: phototechno, Getty Images