Virtual Therapeutics for More Effective Mental Health Therapies with Xavier Palomer Ripoll, CEO at Psious
- Digital Health, Startups, TWIDH

Virtual Therapeutics for More Effective Mental Health Therapies

Recently, we had the chance to catch up with Xavier Palomer Ripoll, CEO at Psious. The company’s mental health technology solutions help psychologists and therapists worldwide perform faster and more effective therapies.

Psious is the developer of a mobile-based technology, made by psychologists for psychologists, using hyper-realistic virtual environments to treat anxiety disorders using virtual exposure therapy. The platform has a suite of mobile applications with virtual environments to provide treatment for multiple phobias as fear of flying, acrophobia, claustrophobia, agoraphobia, and relaxation and Mindfulness environments.

Psious is building on the efficacious use of virtual exposure therapy technologies by combining several systems such as Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and binaural sound, making them available on any mobile-based platform, without any specialized equipment required.

Psious - Healing Minds with Virtual Reality

According to ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America), anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults. More than $22.84 billion of those costs are associated with the repeated use of health care services.

In that order, Psious is democratizing the use of virtual reality exposure, making this proven therapy accessible and affordable to exponentially more clinicians, patients, and self-help consumers.

Psious was awarded the Barcelona Health Hub 2019 Startup Award.

Psious was awarded the Barcelona Health Hub 2019 Startup Award.

How does Virtual Therapeutics disrupt the way we approach mental health care?

Virtual therapeutics offer a greater degree of privacy than live therapy. In some situations, the patient may refuse to participate in a live session because they do not want to compromise the confidentiality of their disorder. Virtual reality offers patients a private environment to carry out psychotherapy (for example, exposure).

Further, complicated “logistic” operations are eliminated, such as those that must be carried out to attend a remote session.

Virtual therapeutics provides greater control of the parameters of the situation, with which it is possible to isolate or highlight those clinically significant environmental dimensions for the patient. Also, it allows creating situations that go beyond what can be found in reality. It facilitates self-training and overlearning since the patient does not have to wait for events in real life but can produce and reproduce them whenever he wishes.

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Digital Therapeutics makes it possible to design “customized” therapies so that the patient can work with multiple possible situations and that are safe because the therapist and patient control what happens at all times.

What are some of the therapeutics environments that you support, and which environments will you move into?

In Psious, we have more than 70 virtual reality environments and other resources based on other immersive technologies such as augmented reality or 3D and 360º videos. Each of our environments has been designed, supervised, and tested by psychologies for proper implementation. Our virtual reality environments treat anxiety disorders such as phobias, stress management, depression, attention problems such as ADHD, among many others. Currently, Psious is also working in its next environments: Bullying, fear of darkness, and
sexual harassment.

What kind of outcomes are you seeing as a result of Psious’ virtual therapeutics?

In the last four years, Psious has worked with more than 2000 therapists to incorporate virtual reality in their consultation with a total of 98% fidelity. Through these therapies, approximately 15,000 patients have been able to treat their anxiety disorders.

The Company recently closed an 8M round; what opportunities does this allow you to pursue?

With the latest funding round, the company will continue to invest in the further development of our virtual reality environments to treat anxiety disorders such as phobias, stress management, depression, attention problems such as ADHD, among many others. In addition, for the development of software, Psious will also focus its attention on consolidating clinical activity through scientific studies that demonstrate the therapeutic effect of virtual reality in the field of cognitive-behavioral therapy.

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On the other hand, this investment allows us to carry out our international expansion plans by offering our technology to Europe and the United States customers. The opening of these new markets is a new milestone for Psious, which has already consolidated
its commercial model in Spain and Latin America.

 Dr. Ricardo Sáinz recently joined the team as Chief Medical Officer (CMO); how will they contribute to the direction Psious chooses moving forward?

The arrival of Ricardo Sáinz as the clinical director is another step forward in the commitment of Psious towards offering a ‘digital therapeutics’ solution that meets the highest standards in terms of empirical evidence. All the treatments included in our Virtual
Reality platform for mental health care based on scientific studies carried out by the most prestigious institutions during the last 25 years.

Tell us a bit about the Psious network.

The Psious network stands out for its investors Sabadell Asabys Health Innovation Investments SCR, Asabys Partners, and Caixa Capital Risc. On the other hand, Psious deals with different scientific institutions such as Vall d’Hebron Hospital, Johns Hopkins, Standford University… to collaborate in studies and investments in the digital health sector.

How do environments like Barcelona Health Hub support your efforts?

The Barcelona Health Hub is made up of companies and organizations that operate in the digital health sector in the same way as in Psious. Its mission is focused on innovation and transformation of the sector. Thus, being part of BHH means being part of the
health transformation with the support of all the companies and actors that compose it.

Psious was recently awarded the BHH Best Startup; what does that mean to you?

Receiving this award from the Barcelona Health Hub is a reward for all the work and effort dedicated since the creation of Psious. In the last four years, the company has managed to launch an innovative technological solution in Virtual Reality for mental health treatment to carry out scientific research that validates our entire platform, market expansion…

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Xavier Palomer Ripoll, CEO at Psious
Xavier Palomer Ripoll, CEO at Psious

In this way, the award represents an essential recognition of our technologies and their efficacies. As a result, Psious is positioning itself as a leading company in the digital health ecosystem.

What advice would you offer to a new Digital Health founder?

My advice would be around the team and how important it is, especially in healthcare, to have a team that combines different backgrounds, visions, and technical skills. Starting a Digital Health company requires some unique skills that other sectors do not need, and making the
different backgrounds work together is a challenge and the key to success. For example, you need to understand the regulatory framework that impacts the commercial strategy; another example is the interaction between clinicians and the tech team.

These are people from very different backgrounds and usually use different words for the same thing or use the same word for different things, e.g., API.

What can we expect in 2020?

During the coming year, we will focus on three main objectives:

  • increase our presence internationally.
  • Focus our attention on Psious 3.0, our updated platform.
  • And finally, with the incorporation of our CMO, we will conduct a greater scientific validation.

Virtual Therapeutics for More Effective Mental Health Therapies

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