Entrepreneur Stephanie Tilenius spent more than a decade developing consumer products at some of Silicon Valley’s most successful companies.
She was a senior technology executive at eBay and PayPal and then moved over to Google to build products like Google Wallet and Google Shopping that scale to millions of users.
Around this time, her father was struggling with multiple chronic conditions—diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, obesity and depression—all at the same time.
"He was on different medications and seeing different doctors, but nobody was looking at the intersection of these conditions. He clearly needed help with nutrition, exercise, sleep and stress, but there was no day-to-day coach or accountability. There was no way to connect devices to see how he’s doing. I couldn’t believe that there wasn't a mobile solution for this," Tilenius told Fierce Healthcare.
At that point, Tilenius committed to building a solution that provides a continuous care model for people with one or more chronic diseases. She co-founded Vida Health in 2015 as a virtual care platform that provides health coaching for both physical and mental health conditions.
The startup experienced rapid growth during the COVID-19 pandemic, with revenue tripling since the beginning of 2020. Vida Health has expanded its nationwide network of therapists, coaches, dietitians and diabetes educators by more than 400%.
To support its ongoing growth, Vida Health banked $110 million in a series D funding round led by General Atlantic and joined by Centene, AXA Venture Partners and Ardea Capital Partners. Returning investors include Ally Bridge Group, Yahoo founder Jerry Yang’s AME Cloud Ventures, Aspect Ventures, Canvas Ventures, Guidewell, NGP Capital and Workday Ventures.
The fundraise will help Vida continue to expand its network of clinicians, mental health coaches, dietitians and licensed therapists to meet increasing demand for virtual care, particularly in mental health. The startup also will use the new capital to deepen its machine learning capabilities and broaden its commercial efforts, said Tilenius, who serves as Vida Health's CEO.
The startup has raised $198 million to date.
Vida’s clients include employers like Boeing, Visa, Cisco and eBay along with some of the country’s largest health plans like Centene, Humana and Blue Cross Blue Shield plans.
The company's solution combines an AI-powered, personalized experience with the support and human connection of coaches and therapists. That's supplemented by machine learning that draws on data from medical and pharmacy claims, labs and devices as well as biometric and member-reported sources. By infusing cognitive behavioral science throughout the experience, Vida drives long-term behavior changes that address the root causes behind each condition, according to the company.
Vida’s app offers video sessions, messaging and digital content to help people prevent, manage and reverse chronic conditions—like diabetes and hypertension—and the mental conditions that accompany them—like stress, depression and anxiety.
“Our mission is vast but simple: transform the lives of millions of people suffering from chronic mental and physical conditions,” Tilenius said. "This new capital accelerates us toward our goal of impacting the lives of 100 million people globally through reversing the symptoms and costs of chronic disease."
Centene’s investment in Vida follows its 20-state deployment of Vida for its health insurance marketplace product, Ambetter, addressing members with chronic conditions.
“Providing virtual care options for our members living with chronic physical and mental conditions has never been more important,” said Kim Henrichsen, senior vice president, population health and clinical operations for Centene, in a statement.
Centene has seen positive outcomes in its partnership with Vida, including better enrollment, member engagement and health outcomes, Henrichsen said.
Two of the most used products on the Vida platform help treat Type 2 Diabetes and mental health. A new study, recently accepted by JMIR, shows the Vida Health diabetes program was effective in reducing HbA1c to values that were significantly lower than the pre-enrollment baseline. The company has historically seen, on average, a 1.5-2-point reduction in A1C for those members.
Tilenius said employers are increasingly interested in providing their employees mental health solutions as the COVID-19 pandemic has driven a spike in depression and anxiety.
"I've worked in Silicon Valley for a while and it used to be about the snacks. Now it’s expected of you to provide therapy. Employers are trying to do everything they can to support employees remotely and remote health coaching and therapy are an important part of that," she said.
"Payers also realize that everything is moving digital and telemedicine is taking off. All the payers are beginning to realize they have to provide these services and have jumped on the digital care bandwagon," she said.
Digital health solutions offer the opportunity to broaden access to care, according to Tilenius.
"At the macro level, 157 million people are living with chronic conditions (PDF) and the way we treat that today is with beds and meds. It's reactive and expensive. Every chronic condition should be treated with digital ongoing care," she said.