Photo by John Garaventa

Executives with Santa Monica-based Ontrak Inc. confirmed in early May that the company had laid off 35% of its workforce in March following the loss of its largest contract with health insurer Aetna.

Ontrak has developed a technology platform that draws on medical data and telehealth communications to help its health plan customers manage patient behavioral health treatment costs.

With Ontrak disclosing in its annual report that it had 726 employees as of Dec. 31, the 35% cut in the workforce translates to roughly 250 employees.

But the company also added roughly 330 employees last year as it expanded contracts with existing customers and signed up new health plans. So, Ontrak’s workforce is still larger than it was at the beginning of 2020.

The layoffs were triggered by news in late February that Ontrak in June will lose its contract with Aetna, a subsidiary of Woonsocket, R.I.-based CVS Health Corp. Ontrak currently provides analysis for behavioral health patterns of 8,400 patient members for Aetna.

When Ontrak announced the contract loss, it slashed its 2021 revenue guidance 37% to $100 million from $160 million.

In March, Ontrak hired former Aetna marketing executive Jonathan Mayhew as its new chief executive, replacing company founder Terren Peizer. The move spurred speculation that Ontrak was trying to win back the Aetna contract.

“I sure hope so,” Mayhew told analysts when asked about trying to secure future business with Aetna. “I truly hope that we’ll have the opportunity to talk about what we can do with our program to more deeply partner across a number of dimensions.”

Mayhew also said he was further lowering Ontrak’s 2021 revenue guidance to between $80 million and $85 million.

Among the challenges he cited was the reduction in non-Covid health care services during the pandemic, a trend that should reverse itself as Covid fears ease.

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