Jan 21, 2021 - Health

Tackling mental health via app

Illustration of two brains overlapping to form a Venn diagram

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

A tech startup is helping providers monitor their patients' moods and mental health status through a remote app.

Why it matters: Mental health is an unaddressed crisis in the U.S., and it's only gotten worse during COVID-19. NeuroFlow can help users track their own mental health while making it easier for health care professionals to identify when their patients are in crisis.

Driving the news: The Philadelphia-based startup NeuroFlow closed on a $20 million Series B funding round last week for its remote mental health monitoring service.

How it works: NeuroFlow uses technology — including a smartphone app — to keep health care providers in closer contact with their patients, allowing them to remotely monitor symptom progression and treatment.

  • NeuroFlow's CEO Chris Molaro notes that most mental health care in the U.S. is carried out by overburdened non-specialists who often lack the time and the expertise to keep track of their patients.
  • The company's app can track the physical symptoms of behavioral health problems, like inactivity and sleep disruption, and feed that data back to primary care providers.
  • "Users get feedback in the system, and clinicians are more informed about how care is going, so they can adjust as appropriate," says Molaro.

Details: NeuroFlow's partners include the U.S. Air Force, which in September agreed to expand the company's platform to multiple sites as part of an effort to monitor the combat readiness of airmen.

  • Molaro is a West Point graduate who served in the Army, and his experience with fellow veterans who struggled with mental health helped inspire him to co-found NeuroFlow.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll as well. Early data from NeuroFlow showed a doubling of clicks on its "Find a Therapist" button in April 2020 compared to January of that year.

The bottom line: Tech will almost certainly never replace human beings when it comes to mental health care, but it "can help augment and enhance the way humans use their professional expertise," says Molaro.

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