Oren Frank knows therapy saved his marriage. He and his wife, Roni, founded talkspace to make therapy an accessible, approachable and affordable option to everyone who could benefit.
Tom Salemi: Hi, everybody, welcome back to the Breaking Health Podcast. This is Tom Salemi, your introduction guy. And I’m here with our actual host, Steve Krupa, who is back in the office. You’re on your full landline or whatever the heck you’re talking to me on.
Steve Krupa: Yeah.
TS: But your voice is back in full force.
SK: That’s right, I’m on a good line for this one.
TS: Excellent. So we’ll have a fantastic conversation as a result. But the conversation today, you spoke with Oren Frank. He’s the CEO of TalkSpace. He’s going to be on a panel coming up at the Digital Healthcare Innovation Summit on November second. It’s a panel called Innovative Solutions for the Behavioral Health World. Ann Lamont will facilitate the conversation. Oren Frank will be on there, again, cofounder and CEO of TalkSpace. David Winberg from Quartet, who you talked to – you didn’t talk to David, but you talked Arun back episode 26, so a couple weeks ago.
SK: Oh. We’re piling them up, huh?
TS: Well, we are. And what’s interesting is we’re not looking just to do behavioral health companies, but there’s so much going on in the space, and there’s so many interesting companies. What is it? Why are there so many great behavioral health companies out there, that not only we’re getting on this Podcast, but we are going to build a discussion around it on November second.
SK: Yeah. So I think that there’s – look, digital health, the window of digital health that deals with behavioral change, which is a therapeutic environment, basically relies on the concept that if you have diabetes, we can change your behavior. That change in behavior will lead to better eating, better lifestyle, and we’ll either be able to better control your diabetes or, if it’s early stage or pre-diabetes, we may be able to prevent the disease in its entirety. And that’s a behavioral health notion. And then there’s also the notion many chronic illnesses and the behaviors that cause them are a result of some sort of psychology issue. So it could be anxiety, could be stress, it could be depression. And that those conditions are generally treated yes, with some medication, but also through psychotherapy. And the linking of behavioral health to actual medical conditions is a link that’s been known for a while, but is now being understood better. And digital health provides a tool to be able to do something about it. And I think that’s why we’re starting to see companies like it.
TS: And it really kind of makes the space more approachable for people, right? I mean this is a difficult thing, that some people have difficult admitting they need this sort of help.
SK: Yeah, I think that’s true. And I think it’s hard. I think that you will meet any number of people that are very overweight and smoke and have diabetes and high blood pressure, and you can tell them all these things, and there’s a blocker that prevents them from doing the behavioral changes that will help them manage their disease better and maybe extend their life, but certainly improve the quality of their life, and cause them to use fewer medical services. And it’s hard to break through those blocks. And honestly, psychotherapy is a very useful tool. You’ll hear Oren. I mean he is like a pied piper about it. But it is not readily available around the country. And most psychiatrists would tell you that there are millions of people that suffer from treatable psychological conditions if they only had access to therapy.
TS: And we’ll get into what TalkSpace is doing in the conversation. But very quickly, what is their approach?
SK: Well, the modality for psychotherapy is one on one discussion with a therapist. And that modality has been around forever, and it’s popularized by probably Woody Allen and others, right? And so popular culture. But what Oren has said is Wait a second, let’s just take that modality and assume that most people can’t get that treatment for either – mostly likely for economic reasons. It’s fairly expensive. It’s a couple hundred bucks a session or $150 a session. And it takes quite a few sessions to sort of make progress. Let’s come up with a different modality. And the modality he’s come up with is sort of this continuous therapy, or batch continuous therapy, where you can start by having a text relationship with a therapist, and begin to sort of work through your issues in real time as opposed to one hour sessions. And as a result of the convenience and the technology, you can now offer that product at a very significantly discounted price to what individual therapy sessions would cost. So now he’s bringing a valid treatment to people that before probably couldn’t afford it. This is more disruptive. It may be something that somebody can copy, I don’t know. But he’s building an analytics later around it. He’s measuring through surveys the starting and ending points for the people that participate in the program. So he’s really building a science around this. That’s a fairly disruptive move.
TS: Excellent. Well, it’s obviously, again, a space that’s getting a lot of attention. We’ll have a panel on it at the Digital Healthcare Innovation Summit. And this is a really great deep dive into TalkSpace and Oren Frank has an interesting story with he and his wife, who’s also, I think, a cofounder of the company, right?
SK: Yeah. They are evangelical about the benefits of psychotherapy.
TS: Excellent. Well, let’s get right into this conversation with Oren Frank, cofounder and CEO of TalkSpace.
SK: Welcome to the Breaking Health Podcast. I am here with Oren Frank, the founder and CEO of TalkSpace, and fellow New Yorker. Good to have you on the show, Oren.
Oren Frank: Good to be here, Steve. Thanks for inviting me.
SK: Yeah. Excited to talk to you about the concept around how we can get psychology and therapy out to the masses. But before we dig into that piece, which I know is your passion for right now, you’ve gotta tell me a little bit about your story. I know you’re from Israel originally. But my opening question is you’re an entrepreneur. That’s a crazy line of work. Why did you start doing that? And then secondly, what drew you to this theme that revolves around TalkSpace?
OF:: Yeah. That’s a perfect question. I guess the reason I chose to be an entrepreneur has to do with value. For my sins I used to work for many years for a very large American advertising agency, marketing and advertising agency. And the role at the end of the day of any business is to add value to its clients, and I found it very difficult to deliver many times. In the service agency you tend to be commoditized in that particular industry. And at the end of the day, after probably the end idea, which I thought was a very valuable idea for a lot of our clients, I understood that the context is wrong. And if you want to deliver value that you think is very helpful and tactful, you should probably do it yourself. And I think you know the passion that’s involved with doing something that you really believe in, unfortunately many times does not belong in a big corporation, where I think the prime directive is do not rock the boat or anything that’s associated with it. So for me it was like a natural progression or evolution. I said this the next thing I should do. And the reason I, or we, we cofounders who are married, chose therapy is driven by personal experience. We’re huge believers in the potential and the help that’s engrained in each patient almost for anyone and everyone at some point, at some stage in our lives, also known as the human condition. We went through couple’s therapy. It was extremely helpful for us. I spent many years in face to face, one on one therapy. And for me it was like instead of elevating myself through somewhere or someplace I haven’t seen, I couldn’t access before. And we both thought this is so crazy that this is just a profession that’s available only for the 1% or actually less than that.
SK: I was going to say there was a stigma to therapy in many generations prior, probably, to yours and mine. I mean I know that it was always just pick yourself up by your bootstraps and get your act together, Buddy. And obviously, we’ve come a long way since then. But this is a relatively new thing, where talk therapy is something that people want to access en mass. Is that not true?
OF:: It’s true, and it’s less true at the same time because I think you have to look at it by geographies. I think on the coasts or in New York City, we both live in New York, it’s very common. I think the stigma is not very high. But New York is not the United States, it’s not the rest of the world. And you’ll find that in other areas the stigma is still extremely high. And I think, you know, you come from the venture industry. The stigma used to be unbelievably high until like 2 or 3 years ago. To be perfectly honest, I couldn’t get meetings with most of the VCs who would just lean back and – typically lean back and say, Well, I have this cousin. He once went to therapy. God forbid none of them actually need it themselves.
SK: You know, most of the VCs I know could use a good shrink.
OF:: I think most people could probably use them. But I think if you look at the culture and the background, I think unfortunately where I see a big shift is around Utah. So that’s almost 3 years ago. I think something changed in the way people address these – around that horrific incident.
SK: Yeah, OK. All right, so let’s take a step back. Tell me so the first thing is couldn’t make it in a company, not because you probably couldn’t fake your way through it, but you didn’t want to fake your way through it. You didn’t feel like you were delivering value. The old adage is if you want to get something done, do it yourself. And you had success though therapy, it sounds like, couples therapy, and then some individual therapy. But how did all of a sudden the idea for this business come to you? Because it sounded like you were participating in therapy and getting the benefits from it long before you thought to start this company. Is that a safe conclusion?
SK: How did you come to this idea? Was it just like you just woke up one morning and thought of it? Or did somebody talk you into it? Where did it come from?
OF:: So true, this is just one side of the call and the other one is my wife and my cofounder, Roni, who went with me to that couples therapy. And her story is even more relevant and perhaps interesting because she actually – she studied computer sciences. And I’m sure you can hear by my accent I’m an Israeli. And she worked in a very large software company called Andox in Israel, developer for quite a few years. And after we had that experience with our couples therapy, she actually left her profession and went to study psychology. She was so enamored and so in love with the notion of the value that this profession can have.
SK: Because she made you into the man she always wanted, right?
OF:: Exactly. You got it full on. So you know, fade out, fade in, now I’m saying I’m going to leave my current career and wanted to figure out something else. And we sat and we were talking very openly: should we go back to Israel? Should we start a business in here? And then almost very naturally, the discussion about this is a knowledge based industry that has not been migrated to any updated or modern distribution platform. Many have tried and failed. Let’s have a look at that. Maybe we can do it better. So it was almost a natural, inevitable progression, if you will.
SK: Yeah. That’s like a life’s work coming together, right?
OF:: Exactly, yeah.
SK: So all right. So let’s dig into this a little bit. So how are you doing it better? What is the secret to your idea?
OF:: So I think that the secret is ages all that it’s called measure twice and cut once. And I think we had a very thorough look at this industry. We came up with some insights and some understanding that the thing of value today as they were in 2012 when we started TalkSpace. And here are a couple. One is that the healthcare in the United States, the healthcare system in the United States could be better. You know, to cut a very long story short, we pay around two and a half times the average of the cost of the OECD countries, getting probably 75% of the quality in terms of life expectancy and other factors. And a huge problem of cost of access almost across the board. And when you look at this particular profession, you see that it’s almost built into the modality of meeting someone on the Upper West Side for an hour a week between 3 and 4, usually during office hours. So the cost of this model and the inefficiencies are almost built into this probably 150-year-old thought that therapy can only be delivered by an hour a week, face to face meeting. Which is a great product; it’s just – it has some limitations. So following this very quick discussion, we came up with two basic decisions. First is that we need to find a new modality or a new distribution method for it, if you will, for therapy. And the second one is that we should go direct to consumer and not work with the current, or the existing healthcare system, who has no real incentive to change itself. Too many people are making too much money and have too many jobs around it. And also the parts of it that are looking for at least for efficiencies are, I would say, not the highest rated in terms of adopting innovation. And when you look at the problem itself, and you ask yourself, why aren’t more people – I mean this is a very established profession. Why aren’t more people using it? You probably get, I would say, three and a half barriers to entry. The first one, most obvious one is cost.
OF:: A session probably cost between $120 to $150 across the country. If you spend 18 months or a year in therapy it means many thousands of dollars. Eighty percent of this money is privately paid out of pocket and not reimbursed because of a variety of reasons. People don’t want to use their employer’s insurance for a mental care because they’re concerned that maybe my boss is going to know about it and it’s going to be reflected in my next pay conversation. So the cost is huge. It’s a huge barrier. And when you are insured, you’re talking about most of these costs are going directly into your deductible, and also expert level copays. So it is very expensive. The second barrier is convenience, as I mentioned before. Just finding the time, paying for consolations, shutting down your iPhone for an hour at a time, and the gap of remembering what happened last week and so many things has happened since our last meeting. It’s almost like the pace was created for a different generation. Their third one is obviously the stigma. And stigma is actually a little more complicated. It’s obvious that it is this being that I don’t want other people to know that I have a mental care issue. But it’s also people that have never been to therapy are very much intimidated by that first face to face experience. There’s the sense of being judged, there’s a sense of this person is sitting in front of me. What do they think about who I am, what I did, what happened to me, is it my fault, is it someone else’s fault, and so on and so forth. And last but not least, which is a little more minor, but still very important is the quality of the match, which is currently driven either by word of mouth, so I’m going to ask you Steve, do you know a great therapist on the Upper West Side. But you went to a therapist for one reason, and I actually have something completely different, so the match is not a quality one. And within the networks or the EAPs or whatever service you’re using, it’s driven by availability and capacity. It’s not a professional match.
SK: Let me just stop you there and make sure we know everybody knows this acronym, EAP, right, because I would imagine it’s got some of a competitive influence on what you’re doing. These are employee assistance programs that are really designed to have telephone numbers that if one is feeling overstressed or overanxious or depressed in job or on job related activities, it’s a benefit that a lot of corporations give to their employees, right?
OF:: True, true. They’re actually not competitive to us because like I said before, we only work direct to consumer currently. But it’s definitely relevant for the discussion. So to your question, previous question how we got to what we do is we made plenty of mistakes. Obviously the first iteration of TalkSpace was a huge failure. We couldn’t get traction, we couldn’t scale, we couldn’t get people to pay for the service. And we actually couldn’t get enough engagement, actually which I think is the thing that matters in the long run. We had to pivot and, you know, startup life is a series of crises.
OF:: And there was a big one. And eventually we ended up on something that we coined as unlimited messaging therapy, which is fundamentally moving the relationship with a therapist – it’s always the same therapist – to a messaging or texting based metaphor. It’s not the SMS service, it’s not texting; it’s our own proprietary, encrypted and protected app. But if we need to ask what it’s like, it’s similar to many of the current solution where it works out by messages, We Chat. And the model is the vast majority of communications is done in writing and texting. And those are on top of this you can do asynchronous video or audio, and also live video or audio, which are interestingly enough the least used modalities within that. So the relationship is usually weekly or monthly or sometimes quarterly, in which a client can write or deliver as much content and text into the meeting room whenever they want, how often and how much they want. And the therapist will answer them upon need. It’s typically at least twice a day, so the interaction is very intensive, and the engagement is far higher than what we know from traditional therapy. And that’s basically the modality. We started like many others with a video based modality, but we quickly found out that people are not – the clients are not interested in doing video. It doesn’t feel safe, it doesn’t feel protected.
OF:: And you’ll find it interested that when someone starts a relationship with a therapist in text, there’s a very high chance that 2 or 3 months into the relationship, they’ll be then willing to do a video chat because it will feel safe and secure enough in their relationship with the therapist to reveal their face. So that’s how it works.
TS: Hey everybody, Tom here. Want to take a quick break from this conversation to introduce a new offering from Healthegy. Healthegy is the company that produces the Digital Healthcare Innovation Summit and the Breaking Health Podcast. This program is called Companies to Watch, and it’s very simple. If you have a company, an important startup that’s really looking to disrupt healthcare, and you want to get the word out about what you are doing, you need to reach out to Marine Linnehan at Healthegy. And again, that’s the word health followed by the letters EGY.com. Email her at Marine@Healthegy.com and go to Healthegy.com and check out Companies to Watch program. You would, as a participant, attend one of our conferences. You’d record a presentation of your story that we would then take, produce into a slick package and send out through our many networks, to our thousands of subscribers and followers, so your story would reach the influential investors and entrepreneurs that it needs to reach. So consider the Companies to Watch program. Again, go to Healthegy.com, check out our video. You’ll see a box right on Healthegy.com about the Companies to Watch program, and reach out to Marine@Healthegy.com and she can get you started. Now back to this Podcast.
SK: So I’ve got a lot of questions for you.
SK: So you’re saying your first shot at this was let’s just do sort of a Doctors on Demand or a Teledoc for psychology and social workers, I guess. And is that right? Is that a fair way to –
OF:: Sort of. It was actually a form of a group meeting because if you remember the entry barriers are cost, convenience and stigma. So we basically had a chapter on way before Google Help out recipes that allowed 7 clients with one therapist to be in the same room, and either use text, audio or video to contribute to the discussion, which was topic based, so anxiety, depression, or other issues that were common. The idea was to divide the cost among the participants and allow them to control the level of exposure.
SK: I see. So now you’ve gone to sort of a one on one model. And the traditional model is that you have your first meeting with the therapist, and you start to sort of open up around the issues that you want to explore, and there’s sort of a like an initial assessment that a therapist takes, and then from that assessment you go back and you sort of work on one issue at a time. That’s a simplification of it, in my mind.
SK: But I’m sure that probably correlates to your experience. This modality sounds very different than that. Is it?
OF:: It’s surprisingly similar. And I’ll explain how it works in the real life. If you download the TalkSpace app and you started writing into it, a licensed therapist is going to answer you, typically in under two minutes, and starts talking to you in live chat about your condition, and basically do a triage or an intake. And by the way, compare that with around 2 to 3 weeks of setting your first meeting with a therapist anywhere else. That therapist, which is always a licensed therapist is making a primary diagnosis, an early diagnosis that allows them to ask you a series of – by asking you additional series of questions to make a professional match with using our algorithm, that basically looks at all the stuff of factors in making the matching decision, and provides them with usually between 2 and 4 choices that they can share with this potential client. And then they pick a therapist that is qualitatively matched to them, but also answer their list of requirements from a therapist, whether gender, location, and so on and so forth. Only after this triage, the new client is being connected with their primary therapist that will then follow extremely similar clinical practices and procedures to how you start working with any client elsewhere. But after a qualitative match that says, well, this kind of diagnosis requires this kind of expertise and perhaps also this kind of clinical approach, whether CBT or CPT or whatever the requirement is. If you look at our therapists, we have over 1000 therapists in the network. Since TalkSpace is only in existence for four years, it naturally means that all of them are actually face to face therapists, typically with around 8 to 9 years of experience in face to face therapy. So in many ways, if you look at what we did, it’s simpler than it is. We took an existing profession that is extremely well rehearsed and proven, and we distributed in a way that most people that are living today are very accustomed to use with the same professionals, with the same procedures, with the same clinical approaches. But if you will, the serving of this profession is done in a much more efficient way.
SK: Very cool. So how are you – I’m going to start with the supply chain. How are you doing recruiting – is it mostly psychologists and social workers? Is that what the network of practitioners is for you?
OF:: Yes. We only deal with psychotherapy, not with psychiatry, and not with – we’re not writing any prescriptions. So we have everyone in the United States that is license to deliver talk therapy, which are licensed clinical social workers, psychologists, PhDs and counselors. And I think there are 8 or 9 kinds of licenses. We have been extremely lucky with the supply side because I would say that the vast majority of the therapists that are working with us have brought each other by word of mouth. It’s a pretty tightly knit community, and they’re very aware of what’s going on. I think there are, to our knowledge, there are just over 500,000 therapists in the United States. And I think those that are interested in finding new modalities and/or are living in more rural areas or are traveling, you know – we have a therapist that regularly travels between Florida and New York. And she loves to find service while she is flying because there’s Wi-Fi. So it’s just a different world. So those that are more open to it are obviously attracted to our modality and come and try us.
SK: Yeah. I mean it’s like if this catches on, you’re going to have a lot more than 500,000 because people want to do this. So how do you credential them? How do you know they’re any good? What’s your – do you have a system for that? Or a rating system or feedback?
OF:: That’s actually the most important question. Our product is the therapist that we match with the client, and the way we manage the clinical outcome and the efficacy and the engagement of the therapist. That’s the sum of our product. And we manage that extremely carefully. So getting to be a therapist that’s on boarding to the TalkSpace platform is a little tedious, to be honest. We do a background check, and we check for credentials and identity and malpractice insurance and licensing. We do at least two interviews, and we actually – the first client that they work with is under our mentorship. So someone that actually sees that they’re doing the right thing. It includes a pretty long, thorough platform training, which is what are the best practices, what works, what works best, and so on and so forth. And also contrary to the way this – or different to the way that this profession is being researched in the traditional modality, which is usually single arm, retrospective, very small studies, we actually run outcome measures, also known as evidence based care for every condition for every client with the opt-in rate at over 80%. So we can actually see every client that progresses through treatment, how they do against their baseline when they joined with their condition, with their diagnosis. And we can check it against client, we can check it for each therapist of course, and we can check it for the platform itself and see where, what kind of conditions we treat better than others.
SK: Are you doing that through a surveying tool?
OF:: Yes. So the way this industry measures itself is condition based surveys. Let’s say that depression is being measured by something called PHQA, and anxiety by something called GAD or general anxiety disorder survey and those are being provided in intervals of 21 days, and then analyzed. And the delta is the efficacy or the outcome. This is – the entire industry is based on this measurement.
SK: So you’re able actually to not only – you can measure them when they come in and then you can measure them on an ongoing basis, and they can see how well – do they have access to this data? Or is it just the providers?
OF:: The providers are sharing the results with them. There’s another interesting survey that we use called WAI, which is working alliance inventory that checks the quality and the depth of the relationship between the provider and the client. So we measure that by the sheer fact that we are purely a digital platform and we capture all the data. Obviously our insights, the amount of data that we capture and our ability to slice and dice it and understand from is it extremely different to anything that has happened in this profession ever. If you think about the 50 minutes, traditional face to face meeting, it’s a sort of black box because there’s no data capturing there at all. You know, your therapist typically will take some notes on a yellow notepad, but the notes will be completely subjective. When you do therapy via texting, and you actually transcribe everything that’s in the room, it’s like a therapeutic journal for the client. You can actually look at the metadata and understand and have a very unique view to how this profession actually helps people and learn how to replicate it in very interesting ways. And that is, you know, a large part of the work we do with our data science team.
SK: Very good. Very good. So on the demand side, are you willing to share a – well, let’s talk about marketing, and then ultimately pricing. So how are you doing? How are you finding people to use this? And then what type of value are you offering them on the pricing model?
OF:: So the way – we actually did the second little startup in ours that does online marketing and bringing clients to TalkSpace, since people have done it before, we had to do it. We have – my background is marketing. We have a very nice multi-channel online and off line marketing machine that does very well. We generate a lot of acquisitions on social media, on the Facebook platform and Facebook and Instagram and Twitter. Obviously Google plays a large role. And we have some other channels that are a little more unique and different. We do a lot of post cards I’m sure you’ll be interested to know. It’s highly effective for us and very relevant audience. We work a lot with the LGBTQ community, both grass roots. We do a lot of events and activations We have a great relationship with the community, actually, have a few therapists working out of the gay scene in Philly. We are launching a TV campaign actually early next month. Interestingly enough, since the days of advertising, now others attribution and television advertising. Very interesting. And some other channels that are more, I would say, seasonal or targeted at specific audiences. So the demand scene is practically endless. There’s so many people in need of help, there’s so many people that are searching for help on the web, and we’re trying to be available and extremely affordable as much as we can for the vast majority of them. There are a couple of audiences that are very frustrating for us because we want to help them and we can’t.
SK: Besides VCs?
OF:: Those are real pain points, you know, that we see every day. Younger people, so under 18, which we just cannot help.
OF:: And also college students that are of age, but cannot afford even the very modest pricing that we offer. And unfortunately, they are not very well supported by their organizations they study at. We just signed one of the happiest deals that we did with a national fraternity called ATO, which they’re going to provide their members, their alumni with TalkSpace therapy. That was one of the happiest days in this business for us.
SK: Terrific, terrific. So are you transparent about pricing? Is pricing set by the individual need? How do you go about –
OF:: No, so it’s very transparent. Typically, the unlimited messaging therapy that I mentioned costs $32 a week.
OF:: And then you can customize it a little more. If you want to add live video sessions, which as I mentioned before, sometimes happens later in the relationship. And sometimes people that have been through traditional or through online therapy are more interested in video. So we have those plans as well. So a mix between the messaging therapy and a monthly video session will cost around $45 a week. Again, I compare it with the typical cost of $150 for a single face to face meeting. And if someone wants to do a weekly video sessions or every week and augment it by texting with a therapist around those, that’s going to be a little more expensive at $69 a week. Most of our customers are choosing the $32 a week, which is, you know, a couple of Starbucks runs, the equivalent.
SK: Those Starbuck runs add up by the end of the year, though, don’t they?
OF:: Oh, yeah, definitely. And some of them will use the other plans. Depends on the audience and depends on the condition and so on and so forth. So yeah, we’re very transparent about it, and those are the prices. They’re as low as we could keep them because that’s part of our vision and our mission. And I think one of the points that I am extremely proud about is that over 60% of TalkSpace’s clients have never been to therapy before. It’s their first time ever trying this. And I think I can pretty safety say that I don’t think they would have tried it in any other modality or channel. So for us it’s big.
SK: We’re talking to Oren Frank, the CEO of TalkSpace, online talk therapy, basically, using messaging and other digital platforms to connect. And I guess the way I would think about it is sort of in batched time, sort of batched, BATCHED, where you’re getting an instance of stimulus from the patient that says, you know, this is what happened to me today, and this is how I dealt with it, and this is what I thought about it, and you’re getting at some point – you said it takes a couple of minutes, but at some point they’ll get a message back with a relevant question or a relevant observation, right? Is that the way that the therapy sort of works?
OF:: Yes, yes, precisely. I think therapy like this becomes almost a daily product versus a weekly product. And it becomes contextual. And if I had, I don’t know, a very bad call with someone, and I just messaged my therapist right after that, you know, I just had a very bad call with this guy from this organization, the sheer fact that I shared this is already – and then I know that my therapist will respond to that. And it could be in a few hours or, if it’s late at night, it’s probably going to be tomorrow. That knowledge is a great coping tool. It helps to create much better engagement than the traditional modality in this relationship. And I think the issue – there’s nothing wrong with traditional face to face therapy. I’ve used it forever, and it’s a wonderful profession. And it’s extremely helpful. But when we try and see why people are not using it beyond – in the current healthcare system, there’s a huge issue of engagement, also known as penetration and utilization, because of all those barriers that I mentioned before, which are even more prominent and evident when you consume this service via your healthcare insurance. So the fact that we can actually create a relationship that is so much more convenient and engaging at the same time I think gives us a very interesting approach in traditional markets. And we’ve just recently started working with employers, with organizations. I mentioned ACO and there are plenty of others.
OF:: And I think interestingly enough, most of it is inbound. Typically, it will include someone who is a TalkSpace client that works for you, for Steve, and then he comes to you and says, Well, this is a great service. Why don’t you guys provide it to everyone? It’s going to be so much more convenient, and since you are a progressive employer, you’re aware of the fact that treating mental healthcare early and effectively is going to influence your absenteeism, your productivity, and your culture within your organization. Also your retention rate of your employees in a big way, and not too mention the additional medical costs that are being saved by not going to the ER a few times with panic attacks and so on and so forth.
SK: Right, right. No, listen, I think it’s a big deal. We talk a lot amongst ourselves here at Psilos about digital therapeutics and the idea that you can actually have clinical benefit using technology. And this seems like a pretty awesome way to help people through any issue, whether it be anxiety or depression or maybe even just the inability to change their behavior, to lose weight or feel better about themselves and all those things. So it’s a wonderful thing that you’re doing. Just sort of in wrapping up, we’re down to our last couple of minutes. I know you’re here in New York, which, you know, we have this ongoing – Tom and I kid each other on the show about New York versus Boston. But I think it’s cool you’re in New York. And you’re also over there by Studio 54, which if I remember right, is right where they used to call it Hell’s Kitchen over there.
OF:: Yeah, it is. I think it’s mostly a kitchen now. It’s far less hellish than it used to be.
SK: It’s not hellish, no, it’s not. Those days are over. So where are you finding – are you building your software here in New York? Are you building it overseas? What is your cultural like? What’s your product development culture like? When people come to your office every day, what are they thinking about? And why are they excited to work for you?
OF:: So that’s a great question because you know, I think you’ll find, and you’re very welcome to come see us. I think you’ll enjoy it. You’ll find that this is such a specific category and specific startup that many of the people that have joined us have some personal connection or affinity or interest either in this profession, or have suffered or know someone that has suffered. And it’s a very, very nice community. We developed almost entirely in New York. The team is here we’re about 40 people in New York. We used to have an R&D center in Israel, but I managed to convince our CTO to move over here, and now we’re in New York. Personally, my own belief about culture in the workplace and elsewhere is that it’s a combination of kindness and common sense, I would say. I think I’m not your typical entrepreneur. I’m a little older. I don’t think it means I’m a little wiser, but a little more experienced and rounded, if you will. I think at the end of the day, it’s always a people business, and the way you work and treat other people is the only thing that matters. So what we are committed to doing for our clients, we are exactly as committed to do for the people who work with us. So that’s the intention. And I think most people will agree that this is the outcome as well.
SK: Very cool. Listen, thank you. I would say to you one of my things is I like to see people that work together understand that we’re having a common struggle, if you will.
OF:: Yeah, exactly.
SK: So just put our heads together and solve problems. We’re all going to make mistakes, but let’s try to resolve them. So anyway, last question is where can listeners find out about you? Do you have a Twitter handle or you mentioned the Podcasts, Facebook page, all that good stuff. Let us know how we can find out more about you if we want to.
OF:: Yeah. So you can go to TalkSpace.com or my Twitter handle is @OrenFrank, ORENFRANK. Or just PM me or write to me. I’m Oren@TalkSpace.com as you can imagine. I’m available and affordable.
SK: And the podcast is on your website? Is that where it is?
OF:: I’m not sure it is, actually. But I’ll get back to you.
SK: All right, we’ll get back to you. We’ll get it on our release notes in the beginning. Listen, wonderful talking to you. Congratulations on your business, and I wish you the best.
OF:: Thank you very much Steve. It’s been a pleasure.
TS: Well, that is a wrap. Oren Frank, thanks for joining us on the Breaking Health Podcast. It’s wonderful to see behavioral health getting the attention from all these innovative startups and investors. So glad to add TalkSpace to the mix, and look forward to hearing your story, or more of your story at our Digital Healthcare Innovation Summit, happening on November second in Boston. Steve Krupa, thank you again for leading a great conversation, and for bringing your insights to these talks. It’s terrific to shine a light on some real innovative ideas. So I hope you, our listeners, enjoyed this conversation. Thank you for joining us. We always appreciate your listening and ask you once again, if you could, to subscribe to the Breaking Health Podcast on iTunes, to give us a rating to let us know how we’re doing, and to drop a comment. I would love to hear what you think about the Podcast, what we might be able to do better. Also, you should be registering for the Digital Healthcare Innovation Summit so you can hear more about the growing behavioral space. Go to healthegy.com, that’s the word health followed by the letters EGY.com to register. Do that, and on November second, we will see you in Boston.