Telemedicine startup iExhale announced that it closed a $1.86 million seed round led by New York’s Dorilton Capital on Thursday.
The Arts District-based company has developed a telemedicine platform, also called iExhale, with a directory of therapists available for over-the-phone therapy sessions. Patients can consult with a therapist for free for 48 hours, using the app’s messaging feature, before selecting someone to conduct paid sessions.
“Finding a therapist is very difficult, so we tried to limit the barrier to entry,” Aaron Robin, chief executive of iExhale said. “Wouldn’t be nice if I can speak to somebody at an affordable rate at my convenience about something that is very small or something that is very large?”
The service charges $65 for a 45 minute phone session with a therapist. All of the therapy sessions are conducted over an encrypted phone line, and the app is compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, said Robin.
The app launched in December to California residents only, though the company has plans to make it available in other states soon.
Therapists on the app are certified and licensed psychologists, and go through an interview process. The company has 18 therapists listed on the app and plans to add more in the upcoming months.
“Recent studies have shown that telemedicine is just as effective as (in-person) therapy,” Robin said.
Eventually, the company plans to add a video-chat feature to the app, though Robin said video-streaming technology still suffers too many interruptions to be used for therapy sessions.
The app isn’t necessarily targeting severe mental disorders, such as schizophrenia or multiple personality disorder, but rather is aimed at more common, easier-to-treat conditions such as anxiety and depression - issues that impact significant portions of the population.
“There is this huge area in the market where people that really wanted help. Where do they go?” Robin said. “The stigma around seeking professional help is big. I’m hope with iExhale we can reduce that stigma.”