Startup AbilTo aims to cut medical costs

Health IT company AbilTo has raised fresh capital for a program aimed at changing behavior for the costliest patient population — people with chronic conditions or multiple chronic conditions.

The healthcare startup works with health plans by offering their members eight-week programs to improve recovery by teaching people to better cope with stress, anxiety and sadness through interactive videos or phone conversations. Its programs are geared to people with heart conditions, Type 2 diabetes, postpartum depression, breast cancer and pain management issues, among others.

AbilTo closed a $6 million Series B round led by Blue Cross Blue Shield’s venture arm and Sandbox Industries. .406 Ventures, an early-stage, venture-capital investor, also participated in the round, according to a company statement. It follows a $3 million capital raise last year.

Participants meet with a clinical social worker and behavior coach separately, once a week, either by phone or in a Web-based video chat. The idea is that if patients are in a positive frame of mind they will do a better job of following a care plan and avoid rehospitalization and incurring other healthcare costs.

In its cardiac forum for patients with heart ailments, participants get personal support to help them make lifestyle changes to improve their recovery.

The company claims that the programs have shown a 60 percent to 80 percent reduction in depression, reduced emergency room visits, and reduced lengths of hospital stays, according to data from its website. About 75 percent of the people who take part in its programs finish them.

Its approach of using behavior change as a way to manage healthcare costs has been an evolving healthcare investing trend. Insurance companies in particular are keen to work with companies that can successfully demonstrate behavior change and increase patient engagement. Audax Health Solutions and OneHealth Solutions are a couple of examples.

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