Meet Pablo Pantaleoni, chief digital officer at hybrid mental health provider LifeStance Health

The company’s hybrid model is “about meeting people where they are,” Pantaleoni said.
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Pablo Pantaleoni

· 4 min read

At the height of the pandemic, demand for mental health services skyrocketed, and companies offering virtual behavioral health services saw an influx of new customers.

One such company was LifeStance Health, founded in 2017, which saw its valuation catapult during Covid-19: In 2021, the hybrid mental health provider went public with a $7.5 billion valuation. Today, the company’s market cap is $2.2 billion, and it operates around 600 clinics in 33 states and employs approximately 6,100 clinicians.

In its most recent earnings announcement on November 8, LifeStance reported $262.9 million in revenue for Q3 2023—a 21% increase over the same quarter last year—and a net loss of $61.6 million.

In the early pandemic days, LifeStance named Pablo Pantaleoni as chief digital officer, and tasked him with overseeing the company’s tech teams. Pantaleoni told Healthcare Brew that his goal is to leverage tech to improve access to mental health care.

“In the past, I’ve seen technology teams that are not so close to patients and clinicians,” he said. “Everybody on my team, they go and see clinicians, they chat with clinicians and with patients, and I think that helps us to […] make sure that we’re solving real problems, not just things that we think can help.”

A hybrid care model

LifeStance offers a hybrid care model, meaning patients can choose to see providers virtually or in person, or they can arrange a combination of both. Pantaleoni said this business model has been very successful during and after the pandemic.

“It’s about meeting people where they are,” he said.

A hybrid model has been shown to improve access to mental health care and shorten wait times for patients seeking care, particularly in rural areas, according to a 2019 study.

Pantaleoni said he believes the hybrid model will continue to see success beyond this post-pandemic era.

“There are a lot of assumptions now that, after Covid, everybody wants to go online,” he said. “What we’re seeing is a lot of people want to see clinicians in person. Having the optionality to jump from one channel to the other, I think that’s what is unique.”

Goals and priorities

Over the last six years, LifeStance has completed close to 100 acquisitions of behavioral health practices across the US.

“Acquisitions were absolutely crucial to building scale in LifeStance’s early years,” LifeStance CEO Ken Burdick told Behavioral Health Business. “But with a broad footprint now in place across 34 states, we are hyperfocused on the organic growth opportunity in this massive market.”

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The acquisitions led the entire company to start using a lot of disparate technology, Pantaleoni said. One of his top priorities as head of tech is combining and simplifying these technologies, such as the electronic health record (EHR).

So far, it’s gone pretty well, Pantaleoni said. LifeStance co-founder, president, and COO Danish Qureshi said in an August earnings call that the company has “gone from 100 phone systems to one, dozens of EHRs to one, and [it has] rolled out a national online booking system.”

“We’re very, very proud of what we’ve accomplished there,” Pantaleoni said. “We standardized a lot of different processes and technologies.”

A “key point of the patient journey,” Pantaleoni said, occurs with LifeStance’s online booking and intake experience, or OBIE, which features a series of questions designed to match patients with an appropriate clinician. Pantaleoni’s team works to improve the matching process, but it’s more complicated than just pairing together a provider and a patient.

“You need to have a special connection with the clinician,” Pantaleoni said. “You need to understand that there are so many other things that go beyond skill sets and insurance, and we try to reflect that when we match patients with clinicians.”

In terms of measuring his team’s success, Pantaleoni said the first thing he looks at, besides ROI, is: “Are we solving the problem?”

“When we launch a new product or new technology, there is a business reason behind that, and an unmet need,” he said. “This is why, when we launch something, we do it in small cohorts, test to see the response, measure user satisfaction, and then confirm our hypothesis. [...] If you’re solving real needs, then you will see the benefit afterwards.”

Looking forward, he added that LifeStance still has a lot to do to make mental health care more accessible.

“We see that huge demand for mental health services, and our mission is to improve access through technology. I think we’re doing a really good job, but there’s so much unmet need,” Pantaleoni said. “This is what is a bit frustrating because I feel like we’re doing all this [and yet we still] need to keep pushing.”

Navigate the healthcare industry

Healthcare Brew covers pharmaceutical developments, health startups, the latest tech, and how it impacts hospitals and providers to keep administrators and providers informed.