Jennie Shulkin, CEO and co-founder of Override, never intended to start a company. She graduated from Harvard Law School and worked as a criminal defense attorney for several years. But she had another job that took up most of her time: dealing with chronic pain. She and her father David, a former U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs, spent years trying to find a solution.
“We traveled around the country looking for various help options, sites and sites detailing treatments, medications and devices that had been tried and failed. We’ve really become experts at what’s wrong with chronic pain,” said Jennie, whose company launched on Thursday.
The problem is that care is piecemeal, Jennie and David said. Surgeons, primary care physicians and psychologists provide their own forms of treatment without communicating with each other. Therefore, the father-daughter duo decided to take off Overwritewhich serves as a virtual one-stop shop for chronic pain patients without opioid prescriptions. The name refers to the “master” pain neural pathways in the brain. In addition to the launch, the Philadelphia startup also announced a $3.5 million seed round and acquisition of pain coaching company, Take Courage Coaching.
Override provides patients with a care team that includes a pain doctor, physical therapist, psychologist and trainer. Patients begin with a virtual assessment process where they meet each member of the care team individually. The team works together to create a plan for the patient, who then receives ongoing care and can schedule appointments and messages with their providers via PC or the Override app.
“We focus on having the interdisciplinary team talking to each other, collaborating around the patient and not just focusing on their individual disciplines as a provider,” David said in an interview.
Patients receive coaching from Override’s Take Courage Coaching, which also offers coaching as a standalone service. In the coaching model, the company offers individual sessions as well as group sessions that include peer support. In addition, Override helps educate patients about the neurobiology of pain, neuroplasticity, and tools they can use to manage their condition.
The $3.5 million seed round was led by 7wireVentures and took part from Martin Ventures, SignalFire and Confluent health. Some of this money was used to purchase Take Courage Coaching, but it is also used for team development, product development and pilot programs with healthcare systems, employers and payers to validate the clinical model.
While Override mainly has a B2B business model, its services are also available directly to consumers, who can book individual appointments with a clinician or pain coach. Prices for these sessions range from $45 to $90 per appointment. Patients can also receive a full monthly package, the price of which varies depending on their needs. In addition, Override works with groups of suppliers, so they can work with the company’s team of experts.
“Primary care physicians and pain practitioners actually have an element of the model, but they may not have a whole team around them,” David said. “That’s why we’re working with them to create a complete experience.”
Override’s competitors include musculoskeletal pain companies such as Hinge Health and Sword Health. But while they are beneficial for patients in acute conditions, they typically don’t work for patients with chronic pain, Jennie said.
David made his own journey in the realm of chronic pain, watching veterans suffering from illnesses similar to his daughter’s. He said the Override model was actually inspired by the Veterans Affairs program that was introduced when David was in charge of the department. The brick and mortar program involved an interdisciplinary team to support and educate veterans on how to manage their condition. AND science in the program showed that it reduced the total cost of care by 30% in the first 12 months and significantly reduced the use of opioids. David and Jennie decided to build a similar model, but transfer it to a virtual platform.
“When we looked at the effectiveness of this [VA program]it was a much more effective model than anything we had seen on our trips around the country with Jennie,” said David.
Ultimately, Jennie hopes to help patients like her get around the struggles she has experienced.
“I’m trying to help other people avoid what I’ve had to go through myself… I hope care will be more convenient, less expensive, more empathetic and really have all the elements in one place,” she said.
Photo: David and Jennie Shulkin