Modern Health is a winner of FierceHealthcare's Fierce 15 awards. See our other honorees here.
Modern Health is on a mission to destigmatize mental health care and break down barriers to access.
Launched in 2017, the company's aim is to help connect patients with the right resources and the correct care needed based on the evidence and education of individuals’ needs.
Alyson Watson, founder and CEO, said Modern Health's mental wellness platform combines well-being assessments, personalized stress management support, an international network of certified coaches, and licensed therapists in 35 languages.
Modern Health empowers employers to lead the charge in acknowledging that mental health is just as important as physical health, she said.
The product took on a new significance amid the COVID-19 pandemic as a growing number of individuals began recognizing the need for mental health supports amid a global crisis. And as the need for mental health services needed to shift online amid stay-at-home orders, the company set out to create new support systems, such as expanding its Healing Circle programs.
"People are hungry for options that can offset the strain on the therapy system," Watson told Fierce Healthcare. "In tandem with these new approaches to care, we’ll see more employers leveraging mental health support platforms like Modern Health’s."
Recently, Modern Health closed a $51 million Series C investment round led by Battery Ventures. This funding came less than a year after Modern Health announced its Series B, bringing the company’s total funding to more than $95 million. In 2021, Watson said, the company plans to experiment with new care offerings driven by the growing demand for mental health support, similar to the successful pilot of virtual, therapist-led group sessions.
Fierce Insights with Alyson Watson, CEO of Modern Health
What is your best piece of advice for launching a healthcare company that challenges the status quo?
My advice for any young entrepreneur is to surround yourself with the best talent you can find, especially those that can add complementary skills to what you or your team currently have. One of the biggest mistakes I see in aspiring entrepreneurs is the belief that they need to have everything figured out — from product development to sales to recruiting to finance. Instead, focus on the one or two things that you excel at and then find top-caliber talent to supplement the areas where you need additional support.
One of the things I’m most proud of is the team we’ve assembled at Modern Health — it brings me an immense amount of joy and further excites me to see the mission-driven people of all talent backgrounds that have embraced this journey together.
What is the failure you’ve learned the best lesson from?
Starting a company will always create moments of “failure,” both big and small. Whether it’s hiring the wrong candidate for a job, not closing a sale, or mismanaging a situation, the most important lesson that I’ve learned is to quickly address the issue (so that it doesn’t happen again), while remaining focused on the next hurdle or challenge in front of you. I’ve never liked the idea of celebrating failure, but I do think it’s important to have a realization that failure will occur and the best response to it is to keep moving forward.
What is the book you recommend to other healthcare leaders?
I recently had our executive team read Good to Great by Jim Collins. While not solely a healthcare book, it’s a great read for leaders at any organization. At Modern Health, it’s helped us think through how we can build a disciplined culture focused on the things that we can do best.
What is the biggest change to watch for in the healthcare industry in 2021?
After all of the stressful events of 2020, we’re already seeing a dramatic increase in demand for mental health support, and that trend will undoubtedly continue into 2021. This past year has made many individuals realize that they can’t always suffer through the everyday stressors alone; they benefit from the structure and care that a mental health professional can provide. However, with the way our current healthcare system is set up, this recognition can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, it’s great that people are finally more open to seeking mental health support, but on the other hand, a lack of available therapists, rising healthcare costs, and long waiting times for therapy often render care inaccessible. That’s why I think that other approaches to care — like coaching or group sessions — will see growth in 2021.
In light of the national conversation that is happening right now, what advice would you offer to healthcare leaders seeking to make a real impact on systemic problems of racism?
The first thing healthcare leaders need to do is research. We need to take the time to listen to the people impacted by our decisions. We need to crowdsource as much information as possible to understand how systemic racism contributes to huge disparities in care and then we need to carefully consider how these disparities are present in our own businesses. After learning and listening, healthcare leaders need to put their words into action. These actions can take many different forms--from restructuring internal teams to be more diverse, to creating new offerings that directly address issues of system racism--but they must be intentional and thoughtful.