Originally published by Senior Housing News on September 29, 2022
Former Aegis Living President Kris Engskov is launching a new home-based behavioral health company called Rippl.
Engskov, who previously worked as president of senior living operator Aegis Living, is leading the new Seattle-based company as CEO.
With the announcement of the launch, the company also announced it had raised $32 million in seed-round funding, with ARCH Venture Partners and General Catalyst leading the way. GV, F-Prime Capital and Mass General Brigham Ventures also contributed to the funding round.
Rippl is aimed at giving older adults with memory care or other neurocognitive needs access to mental health care. Through the service, users gain an around-the-clock platform with which to connect with mental health clinicians. In addition to its focus on dementia and other neurocognitive conditions, the company is also looking to improve mental healthcare for seniors living at home.
“Behavioral health for seniors is unique and specialized,” Engskov told SHN sister publication Hospice News. “There’s a very specialized and complex set of skills required to deliver these services. One of the big issues is that there are just not enough of these folks that have the license and the skillset to deliver this kind of care.”
Rippl’s initial goal is to pioneer “a new care model to be offered by health plans,” with an emphasis on making that process easier, according to the launch announcement.
While Rippl will start out by focusing on in-home care, its reach could presumably extend into senior living communities, which also serve as residents’ homes.
“Covid taught us how much can be done from home,” Engskov told SHN last year. “I think it’s going to be done through technology, better clinical know-how and deep investment in talent and training — I think there’s a big opportunity to reposition the whole role of the carer in home health.”
And the need for mental health services for seniors is great. Recent research conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago found that almost three-fourths of AL and memory care residents have behavioral health needs, while almost two-thirds of IL residents also have such needs.
Engskov on Twitter shared stats illustrating the overall grim geriatric mental health situation for older adults:
- 20% of all suicides in the U.S.
- Just 3% of all psychiatrists subspecialize in geriatric psychiatry.
In launching the startup, Engskov said he will draw upon experience he gained as the former executive vice president of business integration for Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX), which he said was a “small, entrepreneurial company” when he came aboard.
And although it’s unclear whether Engskov has ambitions to collaborate with senior housing operators, he is drawing upon knowledge gained as president of Aegis.
“We were sending residents to the ER who were having behavioral symptoms related to dementia, despite the fact that we had a fairly good-sized clinical team on site,” he told Hospice News. “ERs are filled with seniors with mental health conditions that shouldn’t be there because ERs are not designed to serve them.”