Author Health launches with $115M to care for seniors with serious mental illnesses, substance abuse disorders

Author Health banked $115 million for its new platform offering care and treatment for Medicare Advantage members with serious mental illness and substance use disorders.

The startup's platform launched today in an effort to help support the 1 in 4 Medicare recipients with mental illnesses. Of Americans over age 50 with a serious mental illness, 40% report lack of access to care.

Humana will be the first to launch the startup’s services in conjunction with CenterWell Senior Primary Care in South Florida.

“Our nation is clearly struggling to meet the health and social needs of people with behavioral health conditions, and those needs are only increasing within our aging population,” said Katherine Hobbs, CEO at Author Health, in a press release. “Author Health was born out of the necessity to fundamentally shift how our health system prioritizes behavioral health and preventive services. By aligning Medicare Advantage health plans and clinicians to improve health and using a combination of technology and community relationship-building to open access for hard-to-reach populations, Author Health is primed to meet the growing demand for psychiatric care on a national scale.”

The notable pocket of financing was led by General Atlantic with participation from Flare Capital Partners. Author reported that the funds will be used to expand to new markets, secure new partnerships and increase access to value-based care for seniors and other vulnerable populations.

The Boston-based digital health company approaches care from a team-based method to break silos of care and coordinate efforts between specialized physicians, nurses, therapists and community health workers both in person and virtually.

The model prioritizes flexibility of care, giving rural patients increased access to treatment, rooted in primary care. Author Health acknowledges that mental illness and substance use disorders are often co-occurring with other medical conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

Through a value-based care model, the interplay between physiological and psychological health is prioritized with the ultimate goal of reducing emergency and inpatient hospital care, “which in turn creates savings for health plans focused on value-based care,” Author Health executives said.

“Every day, our nation experiences the devastating effects untreated mental health and substance use disorders have on individuals, families, and our communities,” said Humana President and CEO Bruce Broussard in a statement. “Humana is a national leader in value-based payment and care delivery innovation, and we intend to apply the same forward-thinking approaches to behavioral health to overcome limitations in the current system. The positive outcomes we’re seeing already in South Florida across patient populations previously thought unreachable is truly transformative.”

Following an initial launch in the southeastern region of the country, Author Health expects to expand its services to include Medicare Advantage and Special Needs Plans in other locations by early 2024.

As a part of the company's launch, Pie Nie, M.D., has been tapped to serve as Author Health's chief medical officer. He is a board-certified geriatric psychiatrist and former vice president of medical affairs at Amwell and Aligned Health.

Flare Capital Partners directs its efforts toward healthcare technology, digital health and healthcare services to improve care and lower costs. Flare’s portfolio includes Bright Health, Eden Health and VisitPay.

General Atlantic boasts similar companies within its portfolio that focus on the confluence of health and technology such as Included Health, Mable and Alignment Healthcare.

“Building and supporting more robust care options is essential for the U.S. to be able to respond to the growing need for mental health and substance use services, particularly among seniors and people with disabilities,” said Robbert Vorhoff, managing director and global head of healthcare at General Atlantic, in a press release. “With leadership from some of the top healthcare and technology organizations in the nation, a proven, cost-effective, and scalable approach, and a meaningful market need, Author Health is well-positioned for growth.”