Joyable launches its digital depression therapeutic for consumers

By Jonah Comstock
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San Francisco-based Joyable announced this week that its CBT-based digital program for depression treatment, previously available only to its employer and health plan customers, will now be offered direct to consumer along with the company's social anxiety program.

It's an interesting move, especially in light of the company's comments in January when it laid off 20 people and adjusted its focus away from consumers, toward health plans and employers. CEO Peter Shalek says the company is still focused on the employer space in terms of marketing support, but sees no reason not to make programs available to the public as well, especially for such a widespread condition as depression.

"On the employer side, mental health is a number one, two or three issue for them," Shalek told MobiHealthNews. "It’s a big challenge they are becoming more aware of, so that continues to be our primary focus. That’s where we’re spending and investing the most. But we do so much in our product to help people, that we want to make that available to everybody."

Joyable creates its programs by working with experts in the field -- in the case of depression, Dr. Robert DeRubeis, director of clinical training at UPenn -- to determine the strongest evidence-based strategies for treating each condition. Then they incorporate those strategies into a digital program, as well as training coaches to work with patients through the app.

"We take whatever the science says the best thing is, codify that, and make that available to people," Shalek said. "It’s a value-based care approach. Use the best science, make it scalable, and get it into people’s hands."

Shalek says that Joyable plans to eventually make all of its programs -- for general anxiety and stress as well as depression and social anxiety. Later this year, the company hopes to launch a concierge service so that when patients are beyond the scope of Joyable, the company can connect them to an in-network provider.