Thursday August 6, 2020

Silvercloud scales up to move therapy online

The Dublin-headquartered online therapeutics firm, offering treatment for issues from anxiety to health management, has closed a $16 million funding round

28th June, 2020
Ken Cahill, chief executive of Silvercloud: ‘Mental health has suddenly moved up the chain of importance for a lot of healthcare organisations and governments’

Silvercloud, the Dublin-headquartered digital therapeutics company, is forging ahead with plans to become the Netflix of online therapy following a recently closed $16 million funding round and ongoing expansion in the US.

Ken Cahill, Silvercloud’s Boston-based chief executive, said the company had brought on board a number of strategic investors to bolster its position in the US market.

Closed in February, the Series B funding round was led by the Memorialcare Innovation Fund in California. Other US investors included LRV Health, OSF Ventures and Unitypoint Health Ventures.

“Most of the investors are existing customers. They are big US health systems with innovation funds. Together, they touch about 40 per cent of all patients in the US healthcare system, either directly or indirectly,” Cahill said.

Silvercloud has developed a cloud-based platform for healthcare organisations with more than 30 treatment programmes for mental health conditions, ranging from anxiety and stress to depression and phobias.

The company was established eight years ago on foot of research into online behavioural health carried out jointly by Trinity College Dublin, Mater University Hospital and the National Digital Research Centre.

Silvercloud has since signed up more than 300 customers in Ireland, Britain, the US, Canada, Germany, Switzerland and Austria.

“We’ve delivered the platform to about 475,000 end users since 2012. We have about 40,000 users coming on board each month now. We’ve almost doubled user numbers in the last 12 months,” Cahill said.

Silvercloud’s clients include Bupa and the NHS in Britain and OSF Healthcare and the Medical College of Wisconsin Health Network in the US.

“Now, what we’re seeing with Covid-19, is that mental health has suddenly moved up the chain of importance for a lot of healthcare organisations and governments,” Cahill added.

“Even the way people talk about about mental health has suddenly shifted. Before Covid-19 and the lockdown, people might say they were worried about something. Now, they are more likely to use the word ‘anxiety’ to describe how they feel about the pandemic, their health, their family or their job. The stigma surrounding mental health is fading.”

In addition to its online therapy programmes, Silvercloud has developed programmes to help people with chronic health conditions such as diabetes manage the mental health challenges resulting from their condition.

“We digitise what a person would experience in face-to-face care or therapy and what we are able to do with our digital platform is clearly demonstrate the impact of the therapy,” Cahill said.

“We’re able to work with governments deploying and delivering mental health for populations of between one and 20 million and they can very clearly see how many people use it, for how long, and what benefit they got out of it.”

Cahill believes that digital delivery will become the norm in therapeutic service delivery in the years ahead.

“Up until now, you would have had healthcare organisations that might have looked at mental health as a 'nice to have', but I think now we are realising just how important it is,” he said.

“If you look at what has already happened in entertainment, for example, for the next generation raised on streaming services like Netflix, it will be really difficult to imagine that people ever got that service by renting out VHS tapes.

“We’re looking at a similar evolution in mental health services, where we will be seeing future generations say ‘why wouldn't you get mental health care digitally?’ It’s easier to access and it’s a lot more affordable.”

Silvercloud employs 64 people at its Dublin headquarters and its overseas offices in London and Boston. It is a client company of Enterprise Ireland, the state agency.

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