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Seasoned digital health professionals found virtual eating disorder care startup – londonbusinessblog.com

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For Amanda D’Ambra and Joan Zhang, the idea of ​​starting and co-founding an eating disorder care startup was personal: Both struggled with an eating disorder, along with other mental health issues, and received treatment — a treatment they hope will help. more people will do that. can gain access.

D’Ambra and Zhang previously worked in digital health spaces before deciding to found Arise, a New York-based virtual eating disorder care company. Arise aims to provide education, care and long-term support from licensed providers and personalized care plans for people suffering from eating disorders.

The one thing the founders would like to see more of in other companies was “seeing people as people first and supporting them in everything in life they prioritize,” they said in an interview with londonbusinessblog.com.

Based on their personal experience, Zhang and D’Ambra say that other mental health factors affect a patient’s journey, so they are trying to personalize patient care.

“There’s so much complexity as to what contributed to the eating disorder, and it’s just not just about the food, and it’s not just about the body,” Zhang said. “I think the other really big thing is starting to shift from ‘Oh, this is a problem of mine’, to the broader systemic problem and how it’s contributing to this culture of disordered eating and eating disorders that’s been created. “

According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, eating disorders are the second deadliest mental illness (alongside opioid use), with 26% of people with eating disorders attempting suicide.

In addition, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) are “significantly” less likely to receive treatment compared to white people, and nearly 50% of LGBTQIA+ people reported disordered eating.

For D’Ambra and Zhang, they said they hope Arise can be a welcoming, safe and open space for disadvantaged populations by being “community oriented.”

“What we want to build is a more accessible and inclusive model that will serve a much broader group of people who really experience eating disorders and eating disorders, but are not recognized or given support,” D’Ambra said.

Arise was able to gain support when they announced a $4 million oversubscribed seed funding round led by BBG Ventures (investing in Alula and Reside Health) and Greycroft (investing in Bumble and Boulder Care), with the participation of Iyah Romm, Cityblock co-founder and Sonder Health Chair Sylvia Romm.

The company is scheduled to launch their pilot program later this summer — though the trial will serve up to just 30 patients. According to the company, the pilot is likely “a matter of short duration”.

Following the beta study, Arise hopes to serve approximately 100 active patients by the end of the year. Initially, the company will start operations in New York, North Carolina and possibly Texas. However, since the company plans to partner with insurance companies and Medicaid, it all depends on where they can break in.

The company is emerging at a time when mental and digital healthcare companies have seen a loss of staff and support.

Cerebral lost several insurance contracts after the FDA launched an investigation into a possible violation of the Controlled Substances Act. In addition, Talkspace and BetterHelp were in the spotlight as the US Senate assesses possible violations of privacy rights.

The Senate is asking these mental health app providers to clarify their data collection and sharing policies after reports suggested the companies could share data with Meta and Google.

“Especially when it comes to mental health, we take member data very seriously and strongly believe in the need to ensure privacy is respected and protected,” D’Ambra told londonbusinessblog.com. “For us, that’s in our approach to care, in the sense that we bring it to people’s homes. Importantly, it also means ensuring that data is protected and put back into the hands of our members to enable their healing, and not sold to third parties for advertising or profit.”

Typically, third-party digital health companies do not fall under the purview of HIPAA — despite handling sensitive patient information — and end up in a legal gray area. It wasn’t until September 2021 that the Federal Trade Commission issued a policy requiring health apps to comply with the health violation notification rule.

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