Fueled with $4 million in funding, Arise, a new virtual eating disorder startup, is looking to treat more consumers through personalized care.
This is part of the growing trend to treat specific mental health conditions, such as eating disorders, OCD and insomnia, in a virtual medium. Interest from investors and consumers have led to over $5.1 billion in digital mental health funding last year.
“There is no one modality that is going to work for everybody,” Amanda D’Ambra, CEO and co-founder of Arise, told Behavioral Health Business. “And that is also true because eating disorders are not one thing. They’re a category of conditions. So we believe very strongly that part of the reason that treatment often doesn’t work for folks is because they’re not getting targeted or tailored interventions.”
Eating disorders impact at least 9% of people globally, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders.
Certain demographics are more at-risk for eating disorders as well. For example, roughly 20% to 30% of adults with an eating disorder also have autism. Additionally, people of color with eating disorders are half as likely to be diagnosed with an eating disorder or get treatment, according to ANAD.
A key priority for Arise is hiring a diverse provider base in order for patients to get care from providers in a similar demographic group. Patients who come to the platform will get a care advocate, as well as an individualized treatment plan. Arise also offers patients peer support groups.
“We believe that by centering the individual’s experiences and the individual’s voice, we can actually create a more effective treatment longer term,” Joan Zhang, chief product officer and co-founder of Arise, told BHB.
The New York-based startup launched in mid-July with funding from Greycroft, BBG Ventures, Wireframe Ventures and individual investors. The company is launching in New York and North Carolina this fall. Up next, the team has its sights set on Texas.
Initially the company will treat individuals aged 16 and over.
“Eating disorders are not just a brain disorder,” D’Ambra said. “They are also very much psychosocial, and so looking at all of those factors and that care advocate is a really important piece of doing that. But really, when you look at our full model, it is about integrating the community care and the clinical care.”
While the company is still in beta, the founders do plan on working with commercial insurance and Medicaid plans.
“We want to work directly with health plans as opposed to going more of the employer model that you often see,” D’Ambra said. “And part of that is wanting to have the broadest coverage possible for folks getting in network with the plan, such that we can make this affordable and accessible across the broad population, rather than just those who are employed within the ASO network.”
While there is a large population dealing with eating disorders, Arise does have competition in the space.
Equip, a virtual eating disorder provider, is one of the company’s biggest competitors. San Diego-based Equip has raised $75 million for its family-based treatment model. It has also expanded into all 50 states and Washington, D.C.
The team at Arise says they are pitching a different care model than Equip and competitors. Mainly, the founder says, Arise offers a diversity of services.
“We believe that you need to have the diversity of providers and the care that they’re able to deliver as opposed to anchoring on any one care modality in order to serve the broad range of needs here,” Zhang said.
The team also stressed its emphasis on the community care aspect of its model. Specifically, Arise offers peer support models designed to help patients connect with others in a similar demographic.
“When we think about the eating disorder space, Family Based Therapy is the gold standard, [but] it requires that your family be involved,” Zhang said. “I think from personal experience, my eating disorder actually came from a lot of family trauma that existed, and it actually would have been more harmful for me to include my family members.”