MINDSTRONG HEALTH BRINGS ON TECH EXPERTS

California-based Mindstrong — which offers text- and video-enabled services through health plans for people afflicted by severe mental illness — doubled down on building out its tech brainpower with a slew of recent C-suite hires who join from tech titans like Google and Uber, according to Tech Crunch. The new execs were brought on board about a month after the startup appointed David Graf — who previously oversaw product teams at Google, Uber, and Twitter — as CEO.

Poaching top tech leaders who have built out consumer-friendly digital platforms is important for young health tech upstarts. Like the newly-tapped CEO David Graf, COO Brandon Trew led product teams at Google and Uber. Meanwhile, CTO Erik Albair headed engineering segments at Google Health and DeepMind, Alphabet’s scientific AI division — and VP of Data Science Kane Sweeney held similar roles at Uber and StubHub. While Mindstrong is constructing optimal digital experiences for its customers, it’s smart to snap up talent from tech firms known for consumer-oriented platforms, as their expertise can help the startup build a platform that’ll woo consumers and healthcare partners alike. As the digital mental health services market continues to grow and attract interest from payers looking to beat down swelling mental health costs, companies will need to lure in customers and partners with easy-to-navigate services — and user-friendliness is especially important when contending with customers in crisis who need fast access to mental health professionals.

Loading a C-suite with tech experts could be beneficial while getting products off the ground, but digital health companies wading through the complex healthcare industry without healthcare pros on their leadership teams can hit some hurdles. Some health tech startups are reckoning with the reality that transforming — and succeeding in — a notoriously heavily regulated space takes more than a focus on tech: For instance, health insurtech Clover Health laid off a large chunk of its tech talent in March and pivoted its hiring strategy to focus on building a team with a higher caliber of healthcare expertise. And bringing on talent that’s privy to the health space can be especially important for startups flaunting app-based products, since developers of digital health apps — especially  for mental health — catch flak for crafting solutions that don’t actually move the needle on health outcomes. It’s smart for companies like Mindstrong that are attempting to squeeze their products onto payers’ health plans to prioritize proving that their products are effective and will, in fact, boost outcomes and lower costs — and hiring health pros who are accustomed to navigating this space and could win over the trust of potential partners could be key. As the digital health industry leaves its nascence, we’ll likely see firms continue to shift toward making more room on their leadership teams for entrenched healthcare leaders.