In 2015, Andy Rink debuted Lully at a Y Combinator demo day. The product was meant to help children overcome night terrors. Lully had plans to launch into new markets, such as bed wetting, but clinical trials found that the new products simply weren’t effective enough for the company to feel comfortable launching, resulting in the company winding down and returning money to investors.
Ahead is a platform that looks to help patients suffering from ADHD, depression and anxiety get the medical assistance they need through a combination of telehealth and in-person visits with providers. The company has its own clinics, and employs its healthcare providers as full-time employees.
While most telehealth platforms contract out their HCPs, Ahead believes that it’s in the best interest of both the providers and the patients to bring HCPs in house.
“We really care about the patient experience, and we care about having providers who really buy into our vision,” said Rink. “We think the best way to get a mental health condition treated is by having a close relationship with your provider. So, even though it’s more difficult, we’ve taken the stance of hiring only full-time providers to really deliver on that.”
Ahead focuses primarily on the psychiatrist-patient relationship for conditions that are often treated with medication, rather than talk therapy. Ahead currently has one psychologist on staff for therapy and has plans to expand into that category, but has initially focused on psychiatry, alongside a mix of nurse practitioners and physicians assistants.
Ahead is also partnered with Truepill, its main investor, to offer a tightly integrated prescription delivery service for free to patients. Ahead offers a patient portal that allows users to see their prescription and get delivery times, and soon the company will launch the ability to request refills through that portal.
The company onboards patients in a 12-minute online process that includes a patient questionnaire. From there, Ahead sends the patient a list of HCPs in their area, along with some background information about those providers, giving the patient the ability to choose who they’d like to be paired with. If all goes well, that patient is always paired with that same provider through the duration of their experience.
The company does not currently accept insurance for visits with HCPs, but insurance can be applied toward medication costs. The first visit with an Ahead doctor is $275, and the price goes down for follow-up visits.
Ahead did 1,100 patient visits last month, with 15 healthcare providers on staff full-time and a total team of 33 people. Nearly 40% of employees are male, with nearly 60% female. The company said that all employees selected “unspecified” for race, so Ahead doesn’t have data to share publicly in that regard.
The company sees a real competitive advantage in the landscape by having physical clinics. With ADHD as the company’s primary focus, the company is able to treat the condition via medication, which requires at least one in-person visit before prescribing medicine.
Rink cites hiring as the greatest challenge for the company.
“We could take the approach of letting anybody that wants to work here walk in the door and start seeing patients, but we want to do it the right way,” said Rink. “We want to hire providers that are empathetic and caring and that the patients will love working with. As you know, mental health care is in high demand right now, so these providers have had a lot of offers and it’s hard to hire fast enough to meet our demand.”