AbleTo plans on using $36.6 million in latest funding round to address behavioral health

By Jeff Lagasse
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Behavioral health technology company AbleTo secured $36.6 million in financing last week, led by Bain Capital Ventures, and all of its existing investors -- 406 Ventures, Sandbox Industries, HLM Venture Partners, and Horizon Healthcare Services -- participated in the Series B round as well. Strategic investor Aetna also chipped in.
 
With the fresh investment, AbleTo plans on turbocharging the scale of its business operations, targeting a goal of treating millions of people with behavioral health conditions.
 
Currently, a number of large national health plans, statewide Blues plans and large employers use AbleTo's platform to connect patients with a nationwide network of behavioral health providers. These providers treat the underlying behavioral health issues associated with medical conditions and life events using AbleTo's structured treatment protocols, and have reportedly been able to improve medical outcomes and decreasing the overall cost of care.
 
More than 34 million adults in the US, or about 17 percent of the adult population, have both a behavioral health condition and a medical condition, and this combination is estimated to drive $300 billion in avoidable healthcare costs and lost productivity per year, according to a 2008 study.
 
"We’re kind of unique in the space in that we’re attempting to solve four problems,” Rob Rebak, President and CEO of AbleTo, told MobiHealthNews. "The first is identifying people with a potential problem. The second is screening and triaging, the third is treating them, and the fourth is care coordination."
 
“The reason we got so excited about this (funding) is that we’re one of the few companies that has the ability to scale to solve the problem in a broader way,” he said. “It’s about reaching more people with those solutions.”
 
Rebak said AbleTo will bolster the patient engagement portion of the business to ensure it finds the right patients, as well as the network itself to make sure the company is stocked with a robust arsenal of providers.
 
“Forty million people in this country have some form of mental illness,” said Rebak. “Millions more have comorbidities tied to that illness, and half of those with mental illness aren’t being treated. Many others are being treated suboptimally. It takes a lot of work to reach these people and get them to realize they have issues that need to be addressed.”
 
Bain Capital Ventures, the largest contributor to AbleTo’s latest funding round, typically invests in high-growth, technology-enabled companies that disrupt large marketplaces. The firm's portfolio has included Jet.com, LinkedIn and MinuteClinic, among others. As part of this investment, Yumin Choi, managing director of Bain Capital Ventures, will join AbleTo's board.
 
"As behavioral health management becomes a growing societal concern, we are proud to back a company that is driving significantly improved medical outcomes and lowering costs for patients on a large scale," Choi sais in a statement. "By integrating evidence-based treatment, structured data capture, and predictive analytics, AbleTo has developed a robust platform that enables insurers and employers to address an important unmet need. We look forward to helping AbleTo accelerate rapid growth and become a large-scale disruptor in the behavioral health market."
 
Aetna, meanwhile, has been working together with AbleTo since 2011 to treat Aetna patients nationwide. As part of this collaboration, the companies have published and presented outcomes data jointly, including an outcomes study published in the American Journal of Managed Care. This study demonstrated a 31 percent decrease in total hospitalizations and a 48 percent reduction in hospital days over a six-month follow-up in a commercial population, driving significant cost savings per patient.
 
"Unfortunately it’s just such a massive market,” said Rebak. “The numbers over the last few years in terms of people suffering from mental health issues have only gotten worse, which is really disturbing. Also, the chronic medical conditions numbers are going up. It’s creating a massive health problem as well as a massive cost problem for the system. … We’re helping a mental health problem, we’re helping a broader health problem, and we’re helping the healthcare system save money.”
 
AbleTo raised its Series A round from .406 Ventures in 2013, and has now raised a total of $57.4 million in funding.