A brighter future for pediatric behavioral health: Our investment in Brightline

*TW: suicide*

I’ll never forget the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach as I drove past the train tracks on East Meadow Drive. Police cars and yellow caution tape surrounded the crossing as I thought to myself “not again.” I frantically texted each of my friends, waiting in desperation to get a response that signaled they were safe. Sadly, this wasn’t my first time. A train blaring past was now the sounding alarm for the tragic wave of teen suicides plaguing Palo Alto. Each time, I felt that pit in my stomach return.

How could we have let each of these young people know they were not alone?

Unfortunately my experience, and theirs, were not isolated incidents. In the US, 1 in 5 children (ages 0 to 18) has a behavioral health condition, but 80% do not receive treatment. Pediatric behavioral health concerns are on the rise—they account for $8.9B in annual medical spend, making them the largest cost driver among all disorders in children. That was all before COVID-19 exacerbated the behavioral health crisis, causing greater alarm that our nation’s kids are not alright.

When it comes to behavioral health, the unique needs of children and adolescents are often overlooked. Far too many families face insurmountable barriers when their children need help, and parents are left feeling alone without the support they need. We can—and must—do better. That’s why today we’re thrilled to announce our investment in Brightline, the leading technology-enabled pediatric behavioral health provider reinventing care for children and families. Rock Health is proud to join Threshold Ventures, Oak HC/FT, SemperVirens VC, City Light Capital, and leading healthcare organizations Blue Shield of CA, Blue Cross Blue Shield of MA, and Boston Children’s Hospital in Brightline’s $20M Series A to expand across California and beyond.

The “system” for pediatric behavioral health is fragmented and expensive. Wait times to see a child and adolescent psychiatrist average 7.5 weeks. For families that are able to access care, the experience is often complicated by continued challenges. Comorbidities are common, yet it’s difficult for behavioral health providers to coordinate care with each other and pediatricians, which frequently results in fragmented care. These inefficiencies result in expenditures for behavioral health that are higher than for any other pediatric condition, with many services paid for out-of-pocket by families. In fact, families on PPO plans are 10x more likely to go out-of-network for pediatric behavioral health visits than primary care.

Brightline promises families a brighter future for children and families. Their cutting-edge technology, data-informed progress tracking, and science-backed clinical programs unite with multidisciplinary care teams working together with families. Brightline is defining a new gold standard for pediatric behavioral health that includes:

  • A digital care continuum that facilitates ongoing support. Brightline provides one-on-one telemedicine sessions for kids, with virtual exercises based on their needs. For parents, Brightline offers app-based treatment exercises to use between sessions, caregiver trainings to build skills to manage symptoms and behaviors, and clinician-led classes on topics such as building resilience and dealing with stress.
  • A collaborative, multidisciplinary care model. Brightline is pioneering an integrated, multi-specialty care model with a team of behavioral therapists and child psychologists, psychiatrists, speech-language therapists, occupational therapists, behavioral health coaches, and others. Together these experts work off of a shared care plan to help children progress across their behavioral and developmental needs. Brightline’s services are personalized and data-driven, with an emphasis on measurement and rightsizing care to the individual needs of a child. They even provide progress updates and reports that families can easily share with their child’s pediatrician, school counselor, and teachers.
  • A delightful experience for kids and their families. Brightline removes all of the friction from the current behavioral health experience. They provide a seamless intake process, digital appointment scheduling, and continuous progress updates right in an easy-to-use app. Parents can also chat with their Brightline Coach at any time to ask questions, track progress, and receive unconditional support along the way.

We’re honored to support CEO Naomi Allen and Executive Chairman Giovanni Colella, Co-founders who started Brightline because of the impacts behavioral health had on their families—for Naomi, with her son, and for Giovanni, with his father. These serial digital health entrepreneurs bring deep experience in developing high-growth companies, with prior founding and executive roles at Castlight Health (NYSE: CSLT), Livongo (NASDAQ: LVGO), OODA Health, and RelayHealth (acquired by McKesson in 2006).

We can’t wait to work alongside Naomi, Giovanni, and the entire Brightline team to build exceptional technology and behavioral healthcare that brings a warm, supportive, and goal-oriented experience to children and their families. Welcome to the Rock Health family, Brightline!


Are you in California and looking for behavioral health support for your child?

Good news—Brightline launched telemedicine programs to support children and families at home. Better yet, Brightline is waiving their monthly membership fee through 2020, meaning parents will have free access to Brightline’s mobile app with scheduling and billing, digital treatment exercises, parent training, care plan updates, and progress tracking—all at their fingertips. Get in touch with Brightline to learn more.