Spring gets $1.5M to use AI for mental health clinical decision support

By Jonah Comstock
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New York City-based Spring, which offers clinical decision support for providers around behavioral health, has raised $1.5 million in seed funding. William K. Warren Foundation, a philanthropic organization associated with the St. Francis Health System, and serial entrepreneur Kevin Ryan (founder of Gilt and Business Insider) led the round. Additional contributions came from RRE Ventures, North Sound Ventures, Saddlefire Ventures, and Rough Draft Ventures.

Spring is commercializing technology that was originally developed at the Yale School of Psychiatry, which has been clinically validated in studies published in JAMA Psychiatry and Lancet Psychiatry.

Using large data sets from EHR and health system partners — and its own depression screening — the company uses AI and machine learning to make a determination about what antidepressant might work the best for a person with depression. When clinicians have access to this clinical decision support tool, they’re more likely to screen patients for depression in the first place.

“We’ve found that some PCPs avoid screening patients for depression because they are uncomfortable with treating behavioral health conditions,” CEO April Koh told MobiHealthNews in an email. “Most PCPs have just one or two antidepressants they are comfortable prescribing. Our clinical decision support empowers PCPs to treat behavioral health confidently, and consequently PCPs feel more comfortable with screening patients for depression.”

According to Koh, in one of the company’s pilots the company increased depression screening rates to over 90 percent just two weeks after launch.

“With the national shortage of psychiatrists, there is a huge need to initiate care for depression and anxiety within primary care,” Koh wrote. “Seventy-nine percent of antidepressants are prescribed in primary care. If depression is not treated in primary care, patients suffer for an average of 21 days before they successfully see a behavioral health specialist. Our technology helps PCPs confidently and effectively initiate care for depressed patients.”