MDLive acquires virtual therapy visits provider Breakthrough Behavioral

By Aditi Pai
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BreakthroughSunrise, Florida-based MDLive, which offers telehealth services including patient-to-physician remote visits via mobile devices, has acquired online therapy provider Breakthrough Behavioral. The financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Breakthrough Behavioral has raised at least $5.9 million to date.

The acquisition will allow MDLive to expand its services and offer patients access to a larger network of medical and mental health specialists.

“MDLive is on a mission to bring quality healthcare that is convenient and affordable to everyone through the use of technology,” MDLive CEO Randy Parker said in a statement. “With Breakthrough, we will expand the breadth of our offerings and our geographic footprint, and enhance our presence in the telebehavioral market. This combination strengthens our ability to serve patients across the spectrum of medical and behavioral health care.”

Breakthrough Behavioral offers mental health patients an alternative to in-person therapy sessions. According to the company’s website, a patient might choose online care for many reasons, including the convenience of speaking to a professional from anywhere with internet access, reading profiles to find the therapist that’s the best fit, and maintaining the privacy that might be lost in the waiting room.

Patients can use Breakthrough Behavioral's site to choose a licensed therapy professional based on video introductions and personal profiles on the site and schedule appointments with one of the therapists. They can search for a therapist by specialty, issue they wish to discuss, and location.

In a recent survey, Breakthrough found that teletherapy is just effective as, or better than, in-person sessions -- 81 percent of patients showed improvement by the end of an episode of care using Breakthrough's video service.

Currently, Breakthrough Behavioral is available in twelve states in the US: California, D.C., Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia. It also has five million members through existing customer contracts.

At the beginning of the year, MDLive raised $23.6 million in a round led by Heritage Group with participation from Sutter Health and Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors. The company’s first strategic investor and connected care customer was Norfolk, Virginia-based healthcare system Sentara Healthcare, which invested in late 2012. Around that same time John Sculley, the former CEO of Apple and Pepsi, invested too and became the company’s vice chair.

In April 2013, MDLive inked a deal with Cigna to equip some of its health plan members through self-insured employers access to online video, telephone or email consultations with the over 2,000 physicians that were in MDLive’s network at the time. These remote visits would be for colds, the flu, rashes, sinus issues or headaches for children and adults.