- Parsley Health is a medical practice that charges a monthly fee and doesn’t take insurance.
- For $US150 a month, the membership provides access to doctors and health coaches, with the goal of treating conditions in a more comprehensive way than traditional primary care.
- In April, the company raised $US10 million in venture capital to help it expand on the technology that’s used to interpret the data that it collects from patients, as well as build new clinics.
Entering Parsley Health’s offices in New York’s Union Square area, you might not feel as if you’re headed to the doctor.
The practice, housed in a WeWork building, has the feel of the startup space complete with succulents and a kitchen. The first clue you’re in a medical practice comes from a room filled with supplements and other supplies and a massage table that sits on the side of an office.
Parsley Health, which got its start in 2016 and now has centres in Los Angeles, San Francisco in addition to New York, is the only medical practice located in WeWork. The practice is focused on functional medicine, a type of practice that tries to take a more comprehensive approach at treating the underlying cause of a particular disease, looking at it more holistically than on a case-by-case basis. For a monthly fee of $US150 you get not just primary care visits but nutrition plans, supplement regimens, along with more in-depth genetics and microbiome testing.
“We know that the social determinants of health are stronger much more than the genetic determinants, and yet that really doesn’t have a place in conventional medicine and actual clinical care,” Dr. Robin Berzin, Parsley Health’s CEO told Business Insider. “I saw the world of functional health and how extremely extraordinary the outcomes were, how powerful this was, what the demand was for it, and yet I didn’t see anyone applying a truly affordable model to it.”
Parsley Health’s approach of offering care for a monthly fee is similar to direct primary care, a small but fast-growing movement of pediatricians, family-medicine physicians, and internists. This group doesn’t accept insurance, and instead charges a monthly membership fee that covers most of what the average patient needs, including longer visits and prescription drugs at much lower prices.
Direct primary care practices are growing in popularity at a time when high-deductible health plans are on the rise– a survey in September 2016 found that 51% of workers had a plan that required them to pay up to $US1,000 out of pocket for healthcare until insurance picks up most of the rest.
In April, Parsley Health raised $US10 million in its series A round from investors including FirstMark Capital, Amplo, Trail Mix Ventures, Combine, and The Chernin Group. NYC-based entrepreneurs including Flatiron Health’s Nat Turner, and Warby Parker co-founder Dave Gilboa joined in the round as well.
How it works:
- For $US150 a month, Parsley Health members get health plans, a 75-minute doctor’s appointment, nutrition coaching sessions, and follow-up appointments. The monthly cost is higher than the price point for most direct primary care practices, which have monthly fees that are usually between $US50-70, but cheaper than concierge healthcare, which can often cost thousands a month.
- Memberships are for the full year, which you can either pay upfront on on a monthly basis. There’s also the option to do a three-month Parsley Assessment, which costs $US500.
- Not included in that monthly fee are things like prescriptions, supplements, or lab work.
- While Parsley Health doesn’t take insurance, it may be considered as out-of-network care, which might be reimbursed.
The functional medicine approach intends to go beyond just giving patients more time with their doctors, to incorporate wellness and other components that get people excited to participate.
“They want to be prescribed nutrition as readily or if not more readily as medication. They want someone to investigate and figure out their chronic issue and help resolve it,” Berzin said.
That includes having an Instagram presence. Parsley Health’s account, which has 21,000 followers, is complete with workout shots, healthy meals, and aspirational quotes – not something you see every day from a medical practice.
So far, the American Academy of Family Physicians, which represents 129,000 family medicine doctors, hasn’t found sufficient evidence for doctors to use functional medicine in family practice, though the organisation in March said it will allow for certain courses to educate doctors about how to talk to patients about it.
The $US10 million in funding will be used to bring on more engineers to build more technology that can tap into the data Parsley Health collects from patients, Berzin said. It’s also going to be used to help Parsley Health build its own clinics outside of WeWork.
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