TTherapists at the beginning of mental illness Resilience Lab voted to join forces Wednesday, one of the first joint ventures in the digital health industry.
The move comes after concerns grew among employees after the company fired 12 assistants, changed the way others were paid and introduced a third-party program to track patient progress, according to five current and former employees who asked not to be named for fear of retaliation. The request to hold contract elections and shootings was first reported by Gothamist.
The New York-based startup, which was founded in 2019 by medical director Christine Carville and her husband, CEO Marc Goldberg, said it is “the largest and most diverse group of New York-based therapists.” As the company grew, employees reportedly focused on technology and software development and began hiring former executives from WeWork, Uber and Airbnb, leading up to a $15 million Series A funding round led by Viewside Capital Partners and Morningside in November.
After publishing the news about the company’s earnings, Forbes learned that Resilience Lab, three days earlier, dismissed 12 of 200 physicians, giving them one week to replace 271 patients, according to the documents reviewed. Forbes. Three management employees were also laid off, according to current and former employees of the union. He said many of the workers who were left behind had identities, including people of color, people with disabilities, people with disabilities and people with disabilities.
Carville and Goldberg did not respond to multiple requests for comment via email and phone calls to the Resilience Lab’s office for comment.
Resilience Lab workers elected to represent District Council 37 AFSCME, the union that represents public employees in New York, with a vote of 79 in favor, 13 against, according to Kayla Blado, a spokeswoman for the National Labor Relations Board, which oversaw the election. Blado confirmed that 15 votes were contested and not counted.
In 2022, an estimated 1.2 million health care workers were union members, accounting for 13 percent of the health care workforce — down half a percent from last year, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“Now the work begins to get a contract for our new members – the first in the country for a telehealth company,” Henry Garrido, director of District Council 37 said in a statement. “All employees should be supported by the union, whether they are conducting their business online or in person.”
Up until four months ago, Current and former employees say the Resilience Lab provided an opportunity to find steady, paid work during what could have been an early-career training period. To become a fully licensed physician, people with a master’s degree in mental health counseling or social work must first complete thousands of hours of clinical training, which is one of the problems that Carville and Goldberg previously mentioned. Forbes they were trying to solve.
Resilience Lab hired supervising physicians to receive a portion of the fees from their patient groups. If they hit 100 patient sessions for several months in a row, the company offered access to what it calls a “stay” – a $67,000 paid job with benefits and a bonus, according to employees and documents reviewed. Forbes. That was pretty impressive, since the median salary for a social worker is $50,390 a year or $24.23 an hour, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In June, Resilience Lab announced it was partnering with a Boston-based startup called Mirah to deploy “measurement-based care,” which it described in a press release as “the practice of basing health care on the client’s experiences throughout the course of treatment.” Patients began receiving weekly tests to complete outside of their sessions with therapists.
There was pushback from a group of supporters who said the company’s use of the program was “unacceptable,” according to a letter written by more than 60 employees sent to Resilience Lab management in July. The group wrote that it was concerned that frequent screenings and the idea that “advances” in medicine were synonymous could be harmful to patients. The letter also asked for information about patient data collection and how it would be used.
In August, the Resilience Lab announced new hires from other tech companies in a push to expand operations. Patrick Morselli, former head of global growth at WeWork, became chief operating officer. John Hamby, former regional manager of Uber, was named general manager, and Alyssa Lin, former director of portfolio strategy for Airbnb Luxe, became head of growth. Goldberg said before Forbes the company “had no interest in building Lyft or Uber into service.”
In mid-October, the agents were given a new contract. The “residential” position with a salary of $67,000 was removed. Instead, all assistants receive a starting salary of $1,300 per month – $15,600 per year – plus 15% of the inpatient unit fee for the first 49 sessions each month. The support section has increased to more than 50 sections.
After the company announced its Series A funding the following month, the media touted its programs: an online training program for agents, “program management software” for billing, reimbursement and tracking patient outcomes, and a customer matching program.
Current and former employees say the focus on technology and software was another challenge for the company’s healthcare workforce. “It wasn’t really clear that this was a professional way to hire psychiatry until recently,” Tanya Tripi-Weiss, one of the laid-off experts on the union’s planning committee, said. Forbes. “Until recently, we were acting like this was a secret operation in New York City.”
One former employee described it as a bait-and-switch: “I think they use all the doctors as guinea pigs to find out what worked. [with the technology].”
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