Mental health, and the way it is treated, has been one of the main leitmotifs of the last year of the pandemic. Covid-19 has not only led to many people getting sick or getting worse; it increased isolation, economic uncertainty and led to many other kinds of disappointment, and all of these had a ripple effect on our collective and individual mindsets.
Today, a start-up called Headway, which is working to create a better way for people to look after themselves – through a kind of three-sided market, by helping a person to find and afford a therapist through a free portal service, allowing these therapists to accept a wider range of insurance plans and helping these plans facilitate more therapeutic appointments for their networks of patients, announces a major round of funding in the wake of strong growth.
The startup has raised $ 70 million, money it will use to continue expanding its platform with more partnerships, more hires for its team (it wants to have 300 people this year) and to open up in new regions, with the goal of being nationwide this year. in the USA. This round, a Series B, has a number of big names attached to it: it is led by Andreessen Horowitz, with Thrive, GV and Accel also participating. (The last three are regular investors: Thrive and GV led its Series A, while Accel led its seed.) This Series B comes in at a valuation of $ 750 million.
The rapid pace of funding, backers and this review all underscore the desirability of the concept, as well as the traction Headway gets for its approach.
When we last covered Headway – he raised $ 26 million last November, six months ago – he said he registered some 1,800 therapists on his platform in the New York metro area, where it is based. Today, that number exceeds 3,000 and its network now covers not only New York, but also New Jersey, Florida, North Carolina, Texas, Georgia, Michigan, Virginia, Washington, Illinois. and Colorado. More than 2,000 patients join the platform each month and have so far helped facilitate 300,000 appointments, with a current average of 30,000 appointments per month. Revenues have increased nine-fold over the past year.
The approach taken by Headway – to not only create a vertical search portal for therapists, but also to create a back-end system to help these therapists grow their business by making it easier for them to accept insurance coverage – stems from directly from the experiences of the therapists. one of the co-founders of the startup.
Andrew Adams, the CEO of Headway, told me last year that he came up with the idea after moving from California to New York several years ago to take a job. In seeking a therapist, he found the most reluctant to accept his insurance plan as payment, making therapy unaffordable.
It’s a very typical problem, he said. Some 70% of therapists don’t accept insurance today because it’s too complicated for them to fit in, since about 85% of all therapists happen to be solo practitioners. So, something that should be accessible to all becomes something that is generally only used by those who can afford it or who have signed up for social protection programs that could provide it. But that leaves a huge void in the middle.
“This is the defining problem in space,” he said at the time. “Health insurance is built around a medical world dominated by billers and administrators, but therapists are small practitioners and don’t have the bandwidth to handle it, so they don’t. So we thought if we could make it easy for them, they would, and they did.
And indeed, if you need to see a therapist, the last thing you need or want to do is spend your time trying to figure out the economics of doing so: you need to focus on finding someone. ‘one that you think you can. talk to; someone who can help you.
The problem is enormous. In the United States alone, it is estimated that there are some 82 million people with treatable health problems. Headway was founded on the premise that most of them do not currently seek this treatment because of cost or accessibility.
Much of therapy has traditionally been about seeing people in person – and it can be argued that the fact that we’ve had so much contact with people has contributed to mental health issues over the past year – but in fact , Headway has definitely adapted to the current. weather.
The company says that right now 89% of its appointments are done remotely. That figure is down from 97% at the height of the pandemic in the United States, and has slowly started to decline, the company said. Part of the increase in volume is a direct result of therapists working remotely: they can fit more people into a daily schedule.
In terms of insurers, the company is currently working with Aetna, Cigna, United Healthcare, Oscar and Oxford and says the list will grow. An interesting detail is that Headway has not only built a bigger funnel for these insurers in terms of the practitioners they work with and the people who can then use insurance to pay for the therapy, but on the contrary has served as a channel for these groups of insurers. ‘insurance. by passing more patients to these therapists, who are now part of their networks, via the Headway platform.
According to Headway, using their system can help a patient get an appointment within 5 days, compared to the 30-day average you typically run into when using an insurance directory.
It’s the kind of scale and efficiency of “software eating the world” that drew Andreessen Horowitz to support companies before, with the added detail of that being particularly relevant in the times we live in.
“By putting the mental health care community on par with insurance companies for the first time, Headway is opening up affordable mental health care for millions of Americans,” said Scott Kupor , Managing Partner of Andreessen Horowitz. “We are extremely happy to be working alongside the Headway team.” Kupor also joins Headway’s board of directors with this round.
Cherry Miao, a former Accel partner and Headway’s main start-up investor, also joins as finance and data manager.
“I have been fortunate enough to work with some of the most influential startups in the world and know that being a part of Headway’s meaningful mission, its robust business model and its incredibly talented team is a unique opportunity,” a- she declared. “I am delighted to help rebuild America’s mental health system for access and affordability.”