Bio: Alice Zhang is the Co-Founder and CEO of Anise Health, a digital platform offering culturally-adapted virtual mental health care for people of color (POC), which research shows to be ~5x more effective than one-size-fits-all models. Prior to Anise, Alice worked across various roles in healthcare including product development at an early-stage digital health startup, as a private equity investor, and as a management consultant. Alice holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a B.S. in neuroscience from the University of British Columbia. Alice is also a certified health and wellbeing coach.
Org Info: Anise‘s clinical protocols are designed with a research-based understanding of POC’s needs and its network of providers are trained in culturally-responsive care. Anise leverages ML technology to deliver holistic and personalized care which integrates therapy, coaching and digital content including alternative medicine. Anise’s targeted approach has resulted in clinically significant improvements in anxiety, depression, and stress in just 8 weeks of treatment and a 97% completion rate of the first 4 weekly sessions, which significantly outperforms POC dropout rates of 50%+ after just two sessions.
What motivated you to pursue your current work?
As a 1.5-gen immigrant, I’ve experienced firsthand the feeling of not belonging, the pressure of demanding expectations, and the struggle of being caught between polar opposite cultures. But when I finally sought therapy to work through those challenges which were inextricably linked to my Asian values and immigrant upbringing, I ended up cycling through multiple therapists, each time feeling more defeated. I knew that if finding effective care was so hard even for someone like me who has a good understanding of mental health from having studied psychology and being trained as a wellbeing coach, it must be nearly impossible for many others out there who share my background.
What distinct value does your work bring to the digital health field?
There are 130mn POC who are extremely underserved by our existing mental health care system, resulting in significant financial and social costs. Anise is offering an innovative solution which addresses a significant unmet need for a growing segment of the population.
How does your work impact your target end-users or stakeholders?
Anise partners with health plans and direct referral partners (i.e., schools, EAPs) to deliver our services to POC, starting with the Asian American population. Anise helps health plans reduce cost, improve member satisfaction, and expand network coverage by adopting culturally-responsive solutions. Additionally, Anise helps its end-users alleviate cultural stressors such as acculturation, racial trauma, intergenerational conflict, etc. to empower them to live an authentic and flourishing life.
What is one exciting update or near-term opportunity that you would like to share with the digital health community?
We just raised a $1.5mn pre-seed to accelerate growth and make our services more accessible through implementation of payor contracts and entry into new states.