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Meet TalkSession, Focused on Making Mental Health Treatment Easier and More Affordable

 

Springboard is a highly-vetted expert network of innovators, investors and influencers who are dedicated to building high-growth, technology-oriented companies led by women. Since 2000, 537 women entrepreneurs leading enterprise software, digital media, life science, and other technology-facing companies have participated in the Springboard Accelerators and have raised $6.2 billion in financing, have created tens of thousands of new jobs, and generate billions of dollars in annual revenues.

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Today we chat with Melissa Thompson of TalkSession, a startup dedicated to making it easier and more cost-effective for mental health care professionals. With their web-based approach, TalkSession hopes to reduce costs and help more people access quality treatment.

Tell us about the product or service.

TalkSession is a telemedicine platform built to increase patient access in mental healthcare. Our mobile product is based on cutting-edge WebRTC video technology. We created web-based closed-network solutions for existing patient/provider networks to make their systems more efficient and patients healthier, through increasing access to mental healthcare and integrating behavioral health into primary care settings.

We are creating solutions to improve clinical care, reduce costs, improve access to quality treatment, as well as formulate best practices in telemedicine for the mental wellness field. Overall it is a unique service business in healthcare with a technology bent, and we have a large opportunity to make a difference in light of the macro trends we see in the nation’s healthcare evolution.

 How is it different?

We believe strong in transparency and quality. We have a stringent vetting process upon onboarding providers to the TalkSession network. Similarly, for our enterprise clients, we hold them and ourselves to the highest standards of quality and ethics.

Our focus on mental healthcare is unique. Our team encompasses members and advisors who have backgrounds as payers, pharmaceutical executives, psychiatrists, educators, foundation leaders and consumer-facing business entrepreneurs. I believe it is our understanding of the needs of the payer, the patient and the provider that gives us the greatest edge in our product creation and our business strategy.

What made you choose Springboard and how did it help you to accelerator your company?

Springboard is a closely held secret. It is a network of the most supportive, reliable, and trustworthy women I have ever met. Springboard is the modern day emergency-phone-chain; call a Springboard alum and the forces mobilize.

Usually, I am the only woman in the room. I traded Brazilian emerging market derivative securities at Goldman Sachs, got an MBA, and then managed technology projects with a team of 30 male developers and web designers in Romania.

What market are you attacking and how big is it?

TalkSession is a healthcare company, focused on using technology to increase access to mental healthcare. Overall, mental healthcare accounts for nearly $1 trillion of annual direct and indirect costs. For a recent presentation at the White House, we created this video short to outline the sizable costs to society, some of which we can make great headway into alleviating.

What is the business model?

We are working in the B2B space. We work within existing systems of patients and providers, ensuring credentialing on both sides of the market and also working within the confines of the existing reimbursement structure of that system. We charge a setup fee to create that closed network and then on a per member/per month model. We also have a license-based business model for foundations.

What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within 6 months?

We are launching a number of pilots in NYC within the next six months. We are working with various foundations, universities and private enterprises to help improve efficiency of New York City’s mental healthcare resources and increase access for those in need of care. Despite the fact that New York City is geographically contained, the demographic and socioeconomic diversity of our population lends itself to identifying specific healthcare provider resources and providing more relevant matches for a patient’s specific needs. Aside from explicit specialties in child/adolescent mental healthcare versus adult, there are few opportunities to learn about a provider’s subspecialties within mental healthcare. We will provide transparency around providers and technology with which users can access these providers.

Why are you launching in New York?

New York City has all of the elements to provide the greatest startup environment imaginable.

First, New York City government should be commended, as Bloomberg has initiated many of the underpinnings of the digital renaissance we see in New York City today.

Bloomberg’s list of supportive initiatives is long – from hackathons to creation of the Chief Digital Officer position, to establishment of Pathways to Technology, which has been heralded as a model for other academic institutions to become leaders in technology. Technology is the 2nd largest source of employment in New York City and funding for startups has increased by 40% over the last four years – a greater increase than anywhere else in the country.

It may be more difficult and expensive to find tech talent in NY, but that will change. With Codecademy, Hacker School, and Flatiron School, among others – I believe we will see a surge in organically grown tech talent. In terms of partnership, pilot, client, and marketing opportunities, it is difficult to ask for a more conducive environment to start a business.

I am fascinated at how government agencies, entities, large corporations, hospitals, and payers are engaging with innovative entrepreneurs and early-stage companies. I think that the cooperation, initiative, and support early stage companies see and receive while they are still “early,” will greatly dictate the landscape of the future of corporate America and government.

I have lived in New York for half of my life; I went to college and graduate school here; I worked on Wall Street, in technology, and in healthcare. Regardless of the path I was on at any given time, New York City has always been right there alongside me.

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