Executives from BetterHelp, Bind Benefits, K Health, and JustAnswer weigh in

The second breakout session of the Future of Mental and Behavioral event on July 14th focused on the consumerization of mental health care.

In a patient-centered world, are consumers empowered to make the right decisions? Moderators: Dr. Archana Dubey (Global Medical Director, HP), Bambi Francisco Roizen (Founder and CEO, Vator) Speakers: Alon Matas (President, Teladoc’s BetterHelp), Andy Kurtzig (CEO, JustAnswer), Allon Bloch (CEO, K-Health), Shawn Wagoner (Chief Revenue Officer, Bind).


– Bind offers personalized health insurance that gives members more transparency about treatment options and their prices.

– BetterHelp is a consumer virtual therapy session provider with 30,000 therapists in the United States.

– JustAnswer connects consumers with experts from 700 industries, including psychotherapists.

– K Health is a data-driven primary care service that is a free symptom checker app with a medical shift of doctors to manage chronic, acute, and mental health.

Q: Why directly to the consumer?

Allon Bloch – We have corporate partnerships, but our psyche is to give consumers direct access to information, control and empowerment. We also wanted to learn from the consumer. We started with acute-first diagnostic visits and then expanded to chronic illness and mental health. In addition, a third of our users are not insured; a third have high deductibles. We wanted to make it possible for people to get this product who had no other options. [While we are primarily primary care, mental health should be part of primary care.]

Andy Kurtzig: I started 18 years ago when the company wasn’t ready. Our mission was to serve consumers and give them access to experts. Our first need was access to a doctor who could answer questions for my pregnant wife. When we nailed this down, we figured we could do this across different channels. For our doctors, we don’t try to build a patient-client relationship. Doctors answer high-level questions and sometimes action-oriented advice, but never prescriptions.

Alon Matas: I am a big consumer. This is my fourth startup. As a product person, I find the consumer segment a lot funnier. When you are billing consumers $ 200-300 per month, you want to make sure you are providing the best service. Businesses have so many elements to deal with that are not consumer related. The consumer side also has greater potential.

Shawn Wagoner [on how a focus on consumer makes building up Bind different than other insurers]: We started with a blank whiteboard. Our insurance solution is not just a new technology, but a new financial product. We tailor our financial instruments to the needs of the individual. Most insurance companies focus on group risk. How do we design an insurance product that changes and changes over the course of life? How can we enable insurance to flex with it? The uniqueness of our offer for consumers is that there is no deductible. We also offer people options in making care decisions and, most importantly, we are transparent about the price. For example, if someone is scared, they can search and find options: 1) go to a therapist for $ 30 or to the emergency room for $ 300.

Q: How has direct-to-consumer changed the way consumers look after their healthcare?

Andy: It feels like a blockbuster video with late fees and how Netflix revolutionized that by removing penalties and still allowing you to watch more videos. Today there is no penalty if you have a pre-existing condition because companies like ours provide access to care.

What is your business model – episodic / subscriber base?

Alon: Members pay with their CC and a monthly fee (weekly live session and unlimited messaging between sessions); Andy: We adapt to customer needs; sometimes it’s a membership and sometimes it’s a fee for asking. Allon: Five million people use our product for free; a quarter of that number is a mix of subscription and episodes. We want to build basic services and a relationship with our users

How do your services attract providers?

Allon: K health doctors are on salary. A big part of what doctors are doing today is not what people need. We take care of the administration so you can focus on maintaining.

Andy: Doctors are paid per answer and there is a different amount depending on the quality of the score. You also get surge pricing. The average response time for an answer is three minutes. And some doctors make over $ 30,000 a month just answering questions. They enjoy working on our platform because they do what they do best – help people.

Alon: First, therapists differ from PCPs because you need more therapists for a given population. With a PCP, when someone has a medical problem, most PCPs can treat it. For therapists, most people want differentiation. You might want a woman, an elderly person, or a color therapist. Then the chemistry has to be right. Our therapists like the flexibility and are paid by the working hours (either through live sessions or messaging).

Shawn: We have a network and we also work with the Unitedhealthcare network. The economy is the same. However, what the vendors do notice is that with Bind members, they tend to pull out their phones and look for them. For example, if a prescription needs to be filled out, a member can look where they can have that prescription filled out; Turn left and pay $ 5 at this point or turn right and pay $ 15. Or if it is a process that they have to choose, similar to Amazon, they can receive suggestions that read: People like you have performed this process or chose this option. Essentially, they have a choice and for those decisions they see the price to be paid.

About millennials and their behavior:

Alon: Millennials have less health care overall because they are less sick; But millennials are more likely to use psychological services. They are more open to therapy compared to older generations, who feel that these are personal issues that they can handle on their own. Due to COVID, the technical gap has also closed, as both millennials and older generations have no choice but to use virtual care and other technologies.

What will we see in the next five years?

Allon Bloch: There will be a change in business models, away from per, per month towards true use and true value. Alon: Just like with Amazon, if they need medical care and there is no need to see a doctor, the default will be online and virtual. Andy: Amazon made shopping better, cheaper and more accessible. Healthcare will be the same: it will be better, cheaper, more accessible, and faster. Shawn: America is an individualistic society. That will not change and it cannot be stopped. People will want contextualized things for themselves: contextualized answers and products. The medical industrial complex was not built around a person either; It was built to be paid for. That’s going to change.

The future of mental and behavioral health is brought to you by Vator and UCSF Health Hub. Thanks to our sponsors: Advsr, scrubbed, Stratpunkt. Go next to BetterHelp BetterHelp.com/Vator for a 10% discount on BetterHelp. This podcast is also provided by Octave, your mental health and emotional wellbeing partner. Learn more at FindOctave.com. Thanks also to NeuroFlow who works with hundreds of health organizations to provide world-class technology and services for the effective integration of behavioral health. Learn more at neuroflow.com).


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