On Wednesday, Seth Feuerstein, a founder of Cobalt Therapeutics, spoke at the School of Medicine to a group of 32 people that included businessmen and members of the Yale community about the newest mental health software from the New Haven biotechnology company. Feuerstein, one of the company’s four founders, its Chief Executive Officer and a former medical resident at Yale-New Haven Hospital, talked about the background and incentive for using software like his on the current market.
Despite the tumultuous state of healthcare, Cobalt Therapeutics has undertaken a project to revolutionize cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) through an innovative online website that makes it possible to receive effective and less expensive treatment. CBT makes the patient relearn complex actions and exercises that will help patients achieve success, according to the company website.
“There is a lot of competition in the market,” Feuerstein said. “We have a head start on the program.”
Less clinicians are needed with the software and studies have shown that the treatment is effective, Feuerstein added.
The therapy is based on the assumption that a person’s thoughts influence behavior and feelings. The effectiveness of cognitive behavior treatment is commonly accepted among trained professionals, but the acceptance in the general public is still unknown, said Dr. Seth Powsner, one of Feuerstein’s former professors during his medical residency.
“Since people look for medicine in the form of pills for treatment rather than alternative solutions,” Powsner said. He added that it is still uncertain how people will accept the new treatment .
The website is 85 percent based on interactive videos for patients and assessments that make up CBT, Feuerstein said.
Paul Pescatello, the talk’s host and president and CEO of the Connecticut United for Research Excellence, discussed the necessary components of a successful therapeutic software after the talk.
“The Holy Grail is to reduce healthcare cost and improve quality,” he said. “This appears to do both.”
Pescatello alluded to the regional differences that may influence the results attained in the studies researched overseas.
Cobalt is currently collaborating with Rural Health Organizations Researchers, government affiliations such as substance and alcohol use clinics, and care providers like hospitals. They conducted trials to prove the effectiveness of their software.
Most of the trials were conducted in other countries, Feuerstein said.
“They have identified a problem and are proposing strong solutions,” entrepreneur Ben Muskin, who attended the talk, said. “They have a great team working together and now they just need to execute.”
One of the mental health issues this software is intended to benefit is insomnia, Feuerstein said. Insomnia is currently a problem that affects the lives of approximately 10 percent of the United States, or 30 million people. Given assumptions regarding proper medical care, 400,000 trained specialists would be needed to treat all of the patients. One in four adults over the age of 18 will suffer from a mental disorder.
One of the current limitations of CBT is the scarcity of trained clinicians and the way in which they are spread across the nation, according to the company website.
The proposed therapy does not eliminate the need for a trained clinician. To avoid liability, the company’s software urges patients with certain triggers to seek the attention of trained professionals.
“There are limitations to the program,” Feuerstein said. “We are not a [caretaker], we are a software provider.”
Cobalt is managed and funded by a group with more than 100 years of mental health treatment and management experience, according to its website.