Johns Hopkins MBA Student Tackles Mental Health Care Access Issues

Kavi Misrilall
Kavi Misrilall

Kavi has worked in healthcare investments in New York City for nearly a decade, focusing on mergers and acquisitions as a healthcare investment banker and corporate strategy professional. From an early age, he has been passionate about helping others and has devoted much of his free time to supporting philanthropic initiatives. Kavi served as the president of the Rotary Club of Manhasset—upon nomination, he became one of the youngest presidents of a Rotary Club in the organization’s 117 year history. As club president, he focused on increasing awareness of substance abuse, especially America’s growing heroin epidemic. Kavi has also worked to break the stigma of substance abuse, particularly around prescription pills, by creating monthly public-education programs. He has focused his club’s international efforts to provide STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education to orphan girls in India. Kavi most recently founded Rose, a mental health platform that leverages AI to simplify access to care and augments care with the clinician. Kavi holds a BS in finance from Fordham University and will graduate in 2019 with an MBA in healthcare management from Johns Hopkins University.

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The mental health care field is fragmented and impinged by stigma, access barriers, and infrastructure challenges. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in five Americans experience a mental health challenge in a given year, and as many as 45% of mental health cases go untreated. This translates into $188 billion spent each year in direct mental health and substance abuse costs. In 2018, on U.S. college campuses alone, there were about 1,100 student suicides and almost 24,000 attempts.

There is a clear need to address mental health.

I spent seven years working as a health care investment banker and as a merger and acquisition corporate-development professional. After working 80–100 hours each week, I finally burned out. It was then that I realized how many of my friends in similar roles expressed similar experiences of burnout.

Wanting to learn more about the problem, I accessed mental health for the first time, and the inefficiencies in finding care and the low quality of the care itself blew me away. I decided to do something about it. I’m bringing insight from an entrepreneur’s perspective, an investor’s perspective, and  –  most important –  a patient’s perspective to transform the way mental health care is delivered.

Over the past year, I’ve been building Rose—a technology-driven mental health company simplifying the way patients experiencing stress, depression, and anxiety seek and receive care. Rose leverages artificial intelligence to detect a user’s symptoms and provides a targeted, tailored approach to care. Our method allows us to efficiently match a patient to a therapist, and once the patient is under care, create an engaged relationship to sustain their progress. We offer our services to institutional clients to help their employees manage all aspects of their mental health in a safe, confidential manner.

Current mobile mental health apps are either not backed by hard research or take a siloed, non-systems-based approach. Rose uses an evidence-based approach to mental health but it does not aim to replace therapy or any single aspect of the mental health care process, but rather acts as a comprehensive solution to mental health care that encompasses a variety of treatment processes. Other companies only focus on providing one solution, such as journaling, a chatbot, or providing self-help articles, while Rose serves needs throughout the entire continuum of care.

We have a solid team that includes former health care investment bankers, mental health clinicians at Johns Hopkins Medicine, and machine-learning experts to build out the platform. All of us at Rose are dedicated to making a positive difference in mental health care.

We have developed a minimal viable product and have been working on planning, testing, and evaluating the application. Actions taken include conducting more than 70 interviews with stakeholders throughout the customer discovery process to validate our model and assess perceptions of the mental health burden, coping mechanisms, and current services used.

This has allowed us to work with demographically relevant participants to garner feedback on refining development of Rose geared to our users’ needs. We have built an online crowd-sourcing survey tool to train our natural language processing system to classify individuals into the categories of depression, anxiety, and trauma. These are simultaneously cross-validated against participant self-classification, therapist-based classification, and clinical neuropsychiatric scales like the PHQ9 and GAD7.

We are launching a pilot study among graduate students to both assess the usability of the Rose application and evaluate the short-term impact on mood and anxiety of using the Rose application to augment in-person psychotherapy. This is scheduled for completion in June 2019. Additionally, we will begin the process for an angel fundraising round in July and will use the funds to expand our team and refine our product.

Building the Rose platform over the past year has been nothing short of a remarkable and meaningful journey. With a clear path forward, and a strong team leading Rose, I am eager to transform the way mental health care is delivered.

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