Headspace Health Acquires App-Maker Sayana

Headspace Health isn’t skipping a beat in its mission to create a comprehensive behavioral health platform, acquiring AI-enabled wellness app developer Sayana less than six months after forming through the merger of Headspace and Ginger.

Sayana emerged from the Y Combinator incubator in 2020 with $125K in Seed funding and a goal of introducing as many people as possible to self-care exercises rooted in cognitive behavioral therapy, acceptance commitment therapy, and dialectical behavioral therapy.

The company’s solutions leverage a chat-based AI avatar named Sayana to encourage users to track their moods, allowing it to personalize content delivered through its three primary apps:

  • The Sayana App provides mood tracking and journaling tools coupled with mindfulness exercises to provide insights into how users are feeling over long periods of time.
  • Sayana Sleep aims to match user moods to sleep patterns in order to help those struggling with insomnia fall asleep through custom relaxation sessions.
  • Sayana Workplace uses the same approach but targets it towards employers by helping their employees manage workplace stressors.

The acquisition brings Sayana’s AI expertise and team to the Headspace Health platform to improve its own recommendation algorithms and coaching offerings. The employer-facing component is also interesting given Headspace Health’s enterprise operations, which are a key growth driver for the company and are distributed by over 3,500 employers looking to increase productivity by improving employee wellbeing. 

Data, AI, and Accessible Care

Although Sayana’s 300k+ user base is fairly substantial, it’s tiny in comparison to the 70M+ members commanded by Headspace Health. More user sessions training the AI models should improve the recommendations and ultimately lead to better outcomes for users (and a large competitive advantage for Headspace Health if well executed).

Mental healthcare is a complicated challenge, and requires a scalable solution beyond hiring more therapists and putting them in front of a screen. With the acquisition of Sayana and its AI-enabled chatbot, we’re beginning to get a good idea of what Headspace Health’s solution might look like.

Mobile Technology for Hospitalists

Mobile technology such as smartphones and tablets might not be living up to expectations when applied in the hospital setting, at least according to a new study published in JMIR Human Factors.

The purpose of the study was to identify difficult tasks and contextual factors that introduce inefficiencies to the hospital workflow, with the goal of informing better integration of mobile technology.

  • Methods – The researchers recruited 12 hospitalists at a 200-bed VA hospital in Indiana to undergo interviews guided by the Systems Engineering Initiative for Patient Safety framework, which analyzes five factors (people, environment, tasks, tools, and organization) to describe how providers’ work systems impact outcomes.
  • Results – The hospitalists identified chart reviews, orders, and documentation as the most redundant or difficult tasks, with most of the issues associated with a lack of access to EHRs at the bedside. Participants noted that many apps are designed to be broadly useful, causing them to lack task-specific features that would improve usability.

When asked about ideas for mobile technology, participants prioritized reduction in task time and task completion at bedside, leading to three representative examples of needed tech:

  • Apps that improve patient-provider communication and entering orders at bedside
  • Note-taking apps with sharing features and nurse contact information
  • Apps for electronic consent

The Takeaway

Although this was only a small study, the theme that emerged in the interview responses was clear: designing for the many overlooks the needs of the few. All participants reported that mobile apps with missing features are quickly abandoned in favor of “their memory” or “pen and paper,” while the most useful apps address a specific problem with a purpose-built solution.

Solv Expands Into Lab Testing

Appointment-booking solution provider Solv is expanding into the lab testing space with the introduction of its new Test Finder service aimed at helping consumers discover and schedule local health tests.

  • Test Finder currently includes 25 lab test services such as blood panels, drug testing, and STD testing. Solv reported that the service will expand in the coming months based on the search volume recorded for early users.
  • Lab tests used to require physician orders, but regulation changes have allowed direct access to many tests for consumers. Solv stated that it hopes its new service will help to address the problem of patients deferring testing to avoid an in-person visit.
  • Solv raised a $45m Series C round in September, and has been busy putting the funding to work. So far this year, the company has added EHR integrations to its suite of apps, as well as advanced patient management features and in-app test results. 
  • Testing services have seen a boom since the beginning of the pandemic, and not just for COVID-specific tests. DTC healthcare company Ro recently acquired Workpath to enable in-home blood draws, while Cue Health announced that it plans to use the proceeds from its November IPO to expand its on-demand test offerings.

The Takeaway

Patient expectations of on-demand healthcare are rising quickly, and Solv’s app-based solutions center around creating a smooth experience on familiar mobile technology. The expansion from appointment booking to lab testing is a natural move for the company, giving providers more ways to reach their patients, while giving consumers an easy way to find local services.

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