October 6, 2022

As the country continues to struggle with a mental health crisis that’s only been exacerbated by the pandemic, electronic health-record startup Osmind has a rare sliver of good news: The San Francisco-based company announced on Tuesday a $40 million Series B round, which it says will allow for more hiring and critical product improvements.

Osmind provides software to chart and update patient information and documents, with a focus on mental health. “Right now, what’s happening is these healthcare providers are basically using pen and paper [to chart patient data and treatment details], or they’re using software that was developed in the 2000s,” says Osmind CEO and cofounder Lucia Huang.

The company has two main objectives, which work in tandem. On one end of the pipeline, the electronic health record (EHR) software can collect highly granular data. Patients can use the platform to provide real-time reporting on how they’re feeling and what they’re thinking, which provides doctors a much clearer picture of their patients’ well-being in between visits. Then, on the back end, Osmind is building a dataset that can be queried, dissected, and analyzed by researchers studying drugs or other interventions.

Osmind CEO and cofounders Lucia Huang and Jimmy Qian [Photo: courtsy of Osmind]

Using EHRs for research is not a new concept by any means; companies like Flatiron Health and Alphabet’s Verily have been leveraging troves of digitized patient data to glean insights into drug and therapy designs for diseases, ranging from cancer to heart disease. But Osmind is leading the race to take this idea to the arena of mental health. In March of this year, the company partnered with Stanford University School of Medicine to publish the largest-ever real-world analysis of ketamine as a treatment for depression.

Osmind’s latest raise round was led by DFJ Growth, a growth-stage venture capital firm based in the Bay Area. Osmind says the money will be used to double their team to around 100 employees and expand what types of data the software can capture. “A lot of that [money] will continue to go to core EHR development and improving additional clinical-use cases—helping providers chart on every type of treatment they’re doing, having additional questionnaires for different types of patients with different mental health diagnoses,” says Huang. “We’re also thinking a lot about that research piece . . . how does someone with this gender versus this condition versus this BMI respond to certain treatments?”

The timing for the inflow of new money couldn’t be more pressing. Last month, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that rates of anxiety and depression increased by 25% during the first year of the pandemic. Making matters worse, demand for therapy has rapidly outpaced the supply of skilled providers, leaving many patients facing long wait times. Teenagers have been especially hard hit, and the Surgeon General has called the mental health challenges facing young people “unprecedented” and “devastating.” 

“Everyone knows that mental health care is a huge problem in this country right now, but that’s especially the case for the 15 million Americans who have tried and failed multiple lines of therapy and treatment,” says Huang. “Our platform is really focused on helping the healthcare providers who take care of them, and also generate new evidence for future research and future treatments.”

Huang met her cofounder, Jimmy Qian, at Stanford, and the idea for Osmind was born out of a shared frustration with the mental health care system. The pair bonded over their similar upbringings in the Bay Area and in Asian American households, where Huang says mental health remains highly stigmatized. “It was really something that brought us together and kind of made us want to do something about it,” she says. With help from faculty at Stanford, Huang and Qian applied—and were accepted—to the Y Combinator incubator in 2020. Around the same time, Huang finished her business degree, and Qian dropped out of medical school to work on Osmind full time.

This week’s series B brings the total company funding to $57 million. Osmind is a public benefit corporation (PBC), which, in the event the company goes public, frees its corporate officers from some of the fiduciary responsibilities to shareholders, and instead requires that the corporation consider profits in tandem with a mandate to create public benefit in an environmentally friendly way.

The distinction might seem trivial, but for Huang it’s a source of pride—and evidence that Osmind is about more than making money. “We’re trying to connect all these pieces to move forward [to create] better treatments and a better psychiatry landscape overall,” she says.