Expressable brings speech therapy into the home

Leanne Sherred, a pediatric speech pathologist, has long faced the challenges of putting caregiver-led therapy into practice in traditional care.

Research suggests that caregiver-led speech therapy, which involves training patients’ caregivers in therapeutic techniques to build skills for use at home, can be very effective. But as Sherred has observed during her practice, therapists often have limited access to caregivers and the face serious educational and technological barriers .

In 2020, around the start of the pandemic, Sherred saw an opportunity to try a new, technologically advanced model of speech therapy care, one that puts caregivers «at the center of care» (in her words). She teamed up with Nick Barbara (Sherred’s husband), Spencer Magloff and Ryan Hinojos to form Expressivea platform that offers one-on-one virtual meetings with speech therapists.

«On top of Expressable’s synchronous care is a platform that includes multimedia home programming, interactive weekly hands-on activities, therapeutic SMS support and more,» said Magloff, Expressable’s chief marketing officer, in an interview with TechCrunch. «With Expressable, speech therapy is not limited to once or twice a week, without the participation of a caregiver.»

Expressable is covered by some insurance plans (including Medicaid), but also offers and accepts private pay HSAs and FSAs. Matches patients with speech therapists who can meet their needs and accommodate their schedule. A matched therapist develops a treatment plan and then meets regularly with the patient and/or their caregiver for online sessions.

Image credits: Expressive

Some aspects of the plan are designed to be done at the patient’s own time, through the Exressable self-service platform. Patients and caregivers can track week-by-week progress against goals and milestones in their individualized plans.

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Expressable, which serves both adult and pediatric patients with conditions ranging from language disorders to speech delays, aphasia, stuttering and autism spectrum disorders, distinguished itself early on from many other telehealth startups by hiring its healthcare professionals as W2 employees, and not as performers. While that increased Expressable’s medical licensing burden, it positioned the company well to handle challenging speech cases, Magloff says, which often require intensive, multi-year treatment plans.

«With Expressable, parents and caregivers become active members of their patient’s care team, extending care into the home and throughout the therapeutic progression for faster results,» said Magloff.

The digital and telehealth sector enjoyed free access to capital at the height of the pandemic, but it has noticeably cooled. But Expressable is bucking the trend, earlier this week closing a $26 million Series B round led by HarbourVest Partners with participation from Digitalis Ventures, F-Prime Capital and Lerer Hippeau.

With $50 million in the bank, Expressable plans to improve its care delivery model and underlying technology, expand its payer relationships, and expand its network of therapists as well as its operations team. The company is also experimenting with various forms of artificial intelligence, Magloff says.

«There are a number of relevant AI use cases that we are currently exploring or adapting to improve the user experience,» he added. «This could help catalog common speech errors, reduce the administrative burden on clinicians and improve operational efficiency.»

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