Oren Frank and Talkspace Pioneer Online Therapy

Oct 29, 2018 | | Say something

Talkspace is a company based in New York City that Oren and Roni Frank founded in 2012. They provide their users with access to therapists through their website or iOS and Android apps. The company offers video chat therapy.

They hired Neil Leibowitz to be the chief medical officer. He was UnitedHealth’s senior medical director, but he recently decided to join Talkspace. Oren Frank, the CEO, told CNBC that the company charges $49 to message a mental health professional and $79 to talk to a therapist online weekly. Since its inception five years ago, they have accumulated 1 million users. They have made over $10 million in total. Thanks to Leibowitz, their physicians can now prescribe medicines. Due to federal and state regulations, their psychiatrists can only use the video tool to prescribe medications. Leibowitz will improve the corporate side, which Frank hopes will be half of their revenue. Magellan Health had partnered with Talkspace last year to help in that area.

Millennials have had an increase in anxiety and depression, which has been shown to affect productivity. Leibowitz was originally skeptical about Talkspace, since it was different and new. After meeting Oren Frank and the team, he decided to join. He liked that the company was focused on providing therapy online at a low cost. It could help people in rural areas who had little access to mental health workers. Their usage rates increased sevenfold after the presidential election, but it declined after a therapist complained that they refrained from stepping in during emergency situations. In response, they encouraged therapists to request contact information in those cases.

Oren Frank recently tweeted about an article on The Guardian, ‘Rising temperatures linked to increased suicide rate’. It states that scientists believe climate change may be a bigger causal factor of suicide than a recession. He responded, “Let a therapist help you keep cool.” He also responded on Twitter to Erin Dietsche’s article, ‘New CMS proposal suggests reimbursement for virtual care.’ He commented, “Better late than very late.”

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