Brightside Health secures $33M to propel expansion into Medicare, Medicaid populations

Virtual mental health company Brightside Health picked up $33 million in fresh funding to help propel its expansion into Medicare and Medicaid populations. 

The company recently announced expanded partnerships with CareOregon, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas, Centene and other payers to serve 50 million people in Medicare and Medicaid.

"This funding round will help Brightside Health continue to accelerate our rollout and support of Medicare and Medicaid populations; deepen our partnerships with payers and health systems on high-value use cases such as emergency department discharge; and expand the ways that our technology and AI deliver industry-leading outcomes and care efficiency,"  said Brad Kittredge, co-founder and CEO of Brightside Health, in an email to Fierce Healthcare.

The San Francisco-based company, founded in 2017, serves people with mild to severe clinical depression, anxiety and other mood disorders, including those with elevated suicide risk, through what it calls "precision psychiatry," clinically proven therapy and crisis care.

The series C funding round was led by S32 and was supported by Kennedy Lewis, Time BioVentures and Anne Wojcicki (Redwood Pacific). Existing investors ACME, Mousse Partners and Triventures also contributed to the raise.

The company raised a $50 million series B round in November 2021 and has banked more than $100 million in total funding.

In the past two years, the company has developed programs for individuals with severe mental health conditions, expanded to new underserved markets and published close to a dozen peer-reviewed research papers. Brightside Health also has deepened its leadership bench. The company's hires include many industry veterans: Chris Murray, chief financial officer; Julia Bernstein, chief operations officer; and Matt Mohebbi, head of artificial intelligence and research. 

The company also tapped former Optum Behavioral Health Solutions CEO Trip Hofer to the company's board of directors. 

In a press release, the company said it has set "aggressive yet attainable goals to scale."

"We set out to tackle a massive issue: America’s growing mental health crisis. There are millions of Americans who need timely and high-quality care, and we’re working hard every day to reach as many of them as possible," Kittredge said via email but did not elaborate on specific projections.

Brightside Health’s services are available for commercially insured and cash-pay patients in all 50 states as well as Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries in select states.

Brightside’s expansion is unique, as few telemental health providers accept Medicare or Medicaid beneficiaries, according to the company. Still, Medicaid is the largest payer of mental health services in the U.S., according to KFF. And the Commonwealth Fund has found that only about half of Medicare beneficiaries receive mental health treatment, despite 1 in 4 living with a debilitating condition.

Kittredge said Brightside's approach is unique in the market and has helped support strong growth.

"Brightside is the only company focused and invested in serving the needs of high severity and acuity patients, including through our crisis care program. In doing so, we’re filling a critical gap in care delivery that aligns clinical and financial outcomes," he said. "We’ve made exponential progress in new and expanded partnerships to offer high-quality care to Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries in 2023."

He cited new and expanded partnerships with Centene (including Nebraska Total Care Medicaid and Wellcare Medicare Advantage); Optum (to serve UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage members); Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (to serve Medicare Advantage); CareOregon (to serve Medicaid).

There are plans for additional expansions, he noted.

"Including our commercial lives, Brightside Health can now provide in-network care to over 100 million covered lives—with more coverage being added every month," he said.

The company also has made major investments in technology and AI, "allowing us to efficiently scale our care delivery and drive measurable outcomes at scale," Kittredge said.

Brightside built proprietary AI and uses technology and data to match members with the right care at the right time for their individual needs, he explained.

"Brightside Health’s proprietary precision prescribing algorithm, PrecisionRx, collects over 200 data points on an individual patient to surface to clinicians the medication and dose combination likely to be most effective and acceptable for that patient. This clinical decision support helps clinicians craft a personalized treatment plan resulting in a 70% response rate to the first treatment cycle—double the industry standard," he said.

The company's closed loop treatment model remotely monitors the progress of each member, capturing longitudinal outcome data and triggering real-time provider interventions when they are needed rather than at the next appointment, he noted.

"This allows Brightside providers to identify and address issues in real time, keeping members on track with their care," Kittredge said.

The capital infusion also puts the company on a "comfortable path to profitability," Kittredge said in a press release.