Thomas Tsang, M.D.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in five American adults suffers from a diagnosable behavioral health condition, but60 percent of them go untreated. Furthermore, behavioral health comorbidities are present in roughly 30 percent of chronic disease patients, making these patients 2-3 times more expensive to treat. Emerging startup Valera Health seeks to alleviate this health care burden.
Valera Health was founded in 2015 by former Chief Medical Officer of Merck’s Health Care Services and Solutions Thomas Tsang, M.D., M.P.H.; former Medical Director of Merck Israel Ofer Sharon, M.D., M.B.A.; and Harvard-trained psychiatrist David Mou, M.D., M.B.A.Drawing from the cofounders’ collective clinical expertise, the company developed a digital platform that supportspersonalizedcare management, data analytics and tele-psychiatryto address the behavioral health care gaps in the United States.
“Unlike wellness coaching services or behavioral analytics companies, Valera Health combines service delivery with digital technology and analytics to provide an end-to-end solution for precision behavioral health care,” Tsang said. “We take behavioral health care to the next level with highly personalized, digitally-enabled and preventive rather than reactive interventions.”
As clinicians, Tsang, Sharon and Mou all experienced the inefficiencies of the behavioral healthcare system and recognized the need for disruptive innovation in the industry. “Psychiatrist shortages, behavioral healthcare silos, and reactive treatment models all create barriers to cost-effective care” said Dr. Tsang. “There is a huge unmet need for high quality accessible behavioral health services.”
In the early 2000’s Dr. Tsang served as Chief Medical Officer of an NYC Federally Qualified Community Health Center where he implemented a collaborative care model for over 8,000 patients that integrated behavioral health services into the primary care setting. The model proved hugely effective in improving access to behavioral health services and preventing expensive episodes of care, but was limited to a brick and mortar environment.Now Valera Health is harnessing advances in smartphone technology to scale up the model.
“Valera Health is revolutionizing how we understand and treat behavioral health conditions,” Tsang said.“Our technology is catalyzing a shift towards a new type of behavioral healthcare – one that is preventive, integrated, and highly personalized. This new approach will benefit patients, payers, providers and indeed society as a whole.”
While keeping with the company’s vision of transforming behavioral health care, Tsang and his team now look to the Texas Medical Center for more opportunities to mature and expand the company. As one of the early stage startups in the TMCx Innovation Program’s 2016 cohort, Valera Health seeks to take advantage of the mentorship, networking resources and years of expertise available through the TMC.
“TMCx represents an excellent opportunity to grow our early-stage business with a carefully curated curriculum and personalized guidance,” Tsang said. “We hope to connect with future pilot partners and investors to take our company to the next level and build upon our team’s skillset and expertise as we grow our company.”