The conversation around how people access mental health care has become one of today’s top concerns. As people seek new avenues for therapy beyond the traditional 1:1 therapist-and-client model, mental wellness platform Real prides itself on being a tool that can bring meaningful practice to a widespread demographic at a fraction of the cost. The platform is designed to eliminate scalability challenges from 1:1 models as they address the concerns of millions across the nation. Having recently welcomed a new pharma-tech executive to their team, Ajay Khatri plans on using his background in development and growth of healthcare systems, to further the mission of Real. I recently spoke with Ajay who sees Real’s goal to equalize mental health resources as the key to making a meaningful impact and shared with us how his experience can help do that.
Gary Drenik: Tell us a bit about your background in pharma-tech and how will your background in pharma support your role at Real?
Ajay Khatri: With a background in growing platforms for pharmaceutical companies, I’ve worked for some of the most cutting-edge brands including Johnson & Johnson and Alto Pharmacydirecting new company creation, restructurings, innovative practices to drive growth and more.
I believe there are similarities in the pharmacy space that have prepared me to take on this role at Real. They are:
- Opportunities to drive a new type of care and how to give a high user satisfaction while providing a scalable care model
- Regulated spaces are some of the hardest to operate in but have some of the highest need for change and improvement for patients
- There are so many different players in the ecosystem and supply chain which can make accessing quality care difficult
I’m already using the skills I finely honed from my experience to amplify Real’s ability to cater to people outside of the traditional mental health care system.
Drenik: Why did you choose to join Real?
Khatri: I am a true believer in Real’s mission to scale and equalize mental health resources, having seen first-hand how broken the existing mental health care system is.
Real’s key differentiator and one of the major factors that influenced me to join the company is the platform’s power to be the first form of intervention or a way to manage mental health challenges before reaching potential emergencies.
The industry has a fundamental supply and demand issue with more Americans needing help than we have therapists. Current models do not support the rising need for Americans. Notably, there are a number of apps that have been launched in the space, but a few are publishing studies at the rate they should be to show they are equivalent to today’s standard of care. This is where Real differs and will continue to differ, as we believe showing clinical data and impact will be the way to have more Americans truly engage in different care models.
Long-term patient engagement has been one of the larger issues facing the mental and behavioral health industries. Most Americans stop seeing their 1:1 therapist after only a few short appointments. A number of companies are creating marketsplaces but again this doesn’t solve the root engagement problem. Real is driving a care model that allows members to engage at their own pace, in their own homes, and when it is needed most.
Drenik: What is Real?
Khatri: Real is a mental health care company building a new therapy model. Through a monthly membership, Real provides care to members that they are able to access anonymously, on their own terms, and at a price that is more affordable than other therapeutic approaches. Through our modernized, therapist-designed programs, we’re improving the quality of mental health care and making it accessible to more people, especially the nearly 93% of people left out of the current, traditional 1:1 therapy system.
Drenik: What do you hope to bring to Real?
Khatri: According to a recent Prosper Insight and Analytics survey, over 30% of Gen-Z have become more anxious or depressed since the pandemic and the mental healthcare crisis has only increased since March 2020. I am excited to bring many learned lessons from my previous experience to Real. This includes everything from navigating highly regulated spaces to securing high impact business partnerships.
We have an incredible team at Real and my intention is to compliment and balance the existing team with my experience and really amplify the fantastic work that’s already underway.
I spent almost the last three years helping to scale Alto Pharmacy’s business, I hope to bring that experience to help Real scale in a similar manner. I’m eager to support Real’s continued growth and scale so that even more people can have access to high-quality, affordable, mental health care.
Drenik: How do you practice mental wellness daily?
Khatri: Mental wellness is an important aspect of my life. One way that I practice wellness is making sure that I spend meaningful time outdoors daily. I find it gives me time and space to think while appreciating the chance to move my body.
Additionally, having a loving and supportive partner to talk with, spend quality time with, is another source of support for me. I also have two young children, whom both put into perspective what life is about. Being able to watch them grow and seeing the world through their eyes is something that gives me real joy.
And finally, I’m a user of and believer in Real! I welcome the opportunity to take care of my mental health on my own schedule. I’m constantly looking for new tools and resources to build a stronger relationship with myself and am so happy I’ve found that in Real.
Drenik: Ajay, thank you for your insights on mental wellness platforms and Real.