With $3 Million From Castlight, Lyra Health Is Bringing Big Data To Mental Health Care

One in five Americans suffers from a diagnosable mental health or substance disorder, but 70 percent are undiagnosed.

This fact prompted David Ebersman, former CFO of Facebook and Genentech, to launch Lyra Health earlier this year. Still in the very early stages of development, Lyra has secured $3.1 million in strategic funding from Castlight Health, the Venrock-backed enterprise health company that went public last year.

Lyra is building a data-driven platform to identify people at risk of behavioral and mental health conditions, and make sure they’re being appropriately treated.

If a patient undergoes open heart surgery, for instance, that patient has a much higher risk of depression, so Lyra will alert the physician and suggest a diagnostic test.

There’s also a human component. Lyra is hiring care managers to help people navigate their healthcare plans and understand treatment options, and check up on patients once they’ve chosen a treatment plan to make sure that it’s actually working.

“Mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, and substance abuse are an enormous problem, and as a healthcare system we’re really underinvested in bringing the right tools to these people,” Ebersman says.

“The vast majority are either undiagnosed, untreated (because navigating the system can be really difficult), or treated with something that’s just not working or hasn’t been proven to work,” he says.

The more data that Lyra is able to accumulate, the better its predictive analytics and treatment suggestion engine will be. Through the partnership with Castlight Health, Lyra will have access to Castlight’s medical claims and search data to accelerate development.

“Mental health is one of the biggest problems of American enterprise; it’s a social problem, and an epidemic that deserves to be treated,” says Castlight founder Giovanni Colella, a psychiatrist by training.

According to the CDC, depression is estimated to cause 200 million lost workdays each year. Add this loss of productivity to the billions of dollars spent in healthcare costs related to major depressive disorders, and it’s clear that employers have a huge incentive to keep their employees healthy mentally as well as physically.

Ebersman says that Lyra will primarily be selling to large health plans, and hopes to partner with additional healthcare organizations over the coming months.