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Lantern, the leader in evidence-based online mental health wellness services, today announced the close of a $17 million investment led by Pittsburgh-based healthcare giant UPMC. The investment reflects a commitment from Lantern and UPMC to transform the way emotional wellbeing services are delivered and accessed in the U.S. UPMC was joined by all previous Lantern investors, including Mayfield Fund, SoftTech Venture Capital and Stanford University.
As a leading mental health provider and research organization, UPMC will partner with Lantern to leverage its platform within a myriad of clinical settings and conditions.
“We are excited about reaching more people with behavioral health issues through this readily accessible, scalable, and cost-effective platform,” said Tal Heppenstall, president of UPMC Enterprises, the commercialization arm of UPMC, which spearheaded this investment. “This partnership is an excellent example of our mission at UPMC Enterprises: finding creative solutions and technologies to solve some of the most challenging problems in healthcare.”
UPMC, one of the largest integrated healthcare delivery systems in the U.S., is “the ideal partner,” said Alejandro Foung, Lantern co-founder and CEO. “UPMC has a unique view into the continuum of care, from insuring more than 2.8 million individuals, to administering care preventatively and when patients need it most through its more than 20 hospitals and 3,500 employed physicians,” said Foung. “A large part of UPMC’s appeal to Lantern is its focus on disease prevention, a sharp contrast to the fee-for-service model that currently dominates the behavioral health landscape. Because of our shared focus on prevention to solve health challenges before they even arise or manifest, Lantern and UPMC are the perfect match.”
Behavioral health problems are among the most pressing health issues facing the country, affecting more than 18 percent of adults. Depression and anxiety disorders are among the top five drivers of medical costs in primary care settings—and are even more common and costly among those with chronic medical conditions. Given the shortage of mental health workers, two-thirds of primary care physicians report difficulty referring patients to behavioral health services.
UPMC clinicians will work with Lantern on pilots aimed at expanding its programs to additional behavioral health issues and potentially to populations of patients with more complex conditions. “Integrating behavioral health into broader medical care and focusing on prevention for large groups of patients is the only way that we can deliver high-quality, cost-effective mental healthcare,” said Eva Szigethy, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry, pediatrics, and medicine at University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, who will be working closely with the Lantern team.
The largest nongovernmental employer in Pennsylvania, UPMC integrates 60,000 employees, more than 20 hospitals, more than 500 doctors’ offices and outpatient sites, a health insurance division, and international and commercial operations. Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences, UPMC ranks No. 13 in the prestigious U.S. News & World Report annual Honor Roll of America’s Best Hospitals.
Building on UPMC’s 20-year track record of successful commercialization activity, UPMC Enterprises is dedicated to creating exceptional healthcare innovations that will have a measurable impact on the cost and quality of care. By partnering with innovators like Lantern, UPMC Enterprises is focused on creating and commercializing solutions in four key areas: clinical tools that will transform the delivery of care, population health management that will be essential in health care’s move from volume to value, consumer-centric healthcare, and business services that improve efficiency.