Telepsychiatry platform Iris Telehealth raises $40M

The company helps health systems and hospitals build out their telepsychiatry departments

There’s no shortage of digital health startups looking to expand access to mental health services, including BetterUp, BetterHelp, Headspace, 98point6, and Talkspace, to name a few. 

While most of those companies take a direct-to-consumer approach, Iris Telehealth optimizes mental health services from the other end: the company works with hospitals, health systems, community health centers and federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) to help them build out their telepsychiatry departments.

Iris’s solution includes a team of psychiatrists who can assess and manage risk to get each patient treated as quickly as possible. Every health system is given access to a team dedicated to their organization to help manage inpatient psychiatric care.

“We are focused primarily on the longitudinal story that plays out in behavioral health. It’s our job to help health systems at large and community partners to redefine behavioral health,” said Andy Flanagan, CEO of Iris Telehealth, in an interview with Vator.

“We understand both the large scale and the community journeys, the challenges of the delivery side of behavioral health services.”

On Thursday, the company announced a $40 million Series B round led by Concord Health Partners and Columbia Pacific Advisors; Columbia Pacific Advisors were the initial investors in Iris Telehealth.

“If you look at Concord Health, they’re fantastic partners for us. The investors in Concord are health systems and payers, and the American Hospital Association, and  that resonated strongly with us,” said Flanagan.

“We picked them and they picked us because we share a vision and a purpose. And so, we are going to work very closely, nicely, with our investors, health systems, to serve our current partners, health systems. That match don’t happen very often. So it’s really cool. We’re going to talk with our investors about patients. I love that.”

Founded in 2013, Iris also supplies its partners with providers who are dedicated to that specific health system, including their individual hospitals and outpatient clinics, who provide direct patient care and consultation.

“We reconfigure their EHR, we help them with those real practical problems, to meet the consumer, who’s now a patient, where that patient is,” Flanagan said.

“If they need to be, at home, we see people at home; we see people in the workplace. We don’t know where they are, but the health systems do and we help them be successful so can they help serve all the other patient needs, like cardiology and everything else.”

Iris, which has been more than doubling in growth over the last 18 months, now serves almost 200 hospitals and community health centers; the company expects to have seen over 2 million patients by next year.

Thanks to Iris, patients can get the help they need quicker; in an emergency room, for example, they can get a patient on the phone with a provider within minutes. When it comes to mental health referrals, what can take six month is cut down to a few days. 

Beyond the benefits for the patients, this has an economic benefit for the health systems: for every psychiatric patient that is waiting in the emergency department to be admitted or discharged, it costs a hospital roughly $2,250 and the ED length of stay for these patients is 3.2x longer than non-psychiatric patients. 

With this new capital, Iris plans to grow its clinical operations team, scale its go-to-market strategy, and to expand its product and technology capabilities; that means providing services in new areas of behavioral health, including pediatrics and women’s health.

Pediatrics is a space that has a lot of access, is highly charged, and is fragmented, Flanagan explained. Iris wants to unify those resources, and be “the connective tissue.” When it comes to women’s health, there are issues of stigma, he said, and of correctly diagnosing the problem. 

“Depression and postpartum depression can look the same, but they are very different, and you solve those very differently. We understand that difference; if you’re just dealing with depression, or stress and anxiety, as a low acuity platform, you can’t reach up and solve, maybe, what the real issue is.”

What Iris wants to do, utimately, is to enable health systems and community mental health centers and FQHCs to work seamlessly together so that there are no gaps in care.

“Our goal is simply to close every gap in care around behavioral health in every setting, for every human. That’s it. And so, we’re going to do the same thing we’re doing right now, again and again. Every day, we dig ditches every day, it’s hard work, and we’re not going to blink. That’s why we’re going to do. Along, we’ll be a really big company that will always be profitable, but the mission is never gonna change.” 

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