Source: Robin Berzin MD

Parsley Health: Robin Berzin’ Avant-Garde Effort to Reshape Healthcare Sphere

As the first and only vertically integrated digital health solution for reversing chronic disease and optimizing health, Parsley Health has made great strides in its tremendous efforts of rebuilding health landscape from the inside out.
By Kaley Nguyen | 10 min read
on December 2, 2020
Source: Robin Berzin MD

Should you have been around within the healthcare landscape for a while, you must have heard the term “functional medicine” – which refers to a science-based system of medicine focusing on discovering the underlying cause of disease(s) through a personalized approach to address the patient’s needs. Yet, unfortunately, such an innovative medical approach has not historically been widely available for those who look to get better - and Dr. Robin Berzin MD, the founder and CEO of Parsley Health, is on a mission to change that.

"I started Parsley Health because I saw how broken healthcare is today. We are making ourselves sick as a population, through how we eat, move, and live while traditional medicine layers on more pills, waiting for us to get sicker," stated Dr. Robin Berzin. Emerged as the only primary care health practice based on functional medicine, Parsley Health is redesigning primary care by integrating the latest in medical testing, technology, and nutrition research. The NY-based medical institute has adopted a wise approach that puts nutrition, wellness, and prevention on the front lines of health care, while simultaneously leverage cutting-edge and data-driven medicine practices to help people get and stay healthy.

Would you like to grasp the ins and outs of how Parsley Health was founded and has disrupted the sphere of modern medicine since then? Let’s read on to explore!

Parsley Health: Dr. Robin Berzin’ Avant-Garde Efforts to Reimagine Healthcare

Before delving into the specifics of Parsley Health, let’s first cast a quick glimpse over Robin Berzin’s educational story and her passionate journey to founding Parsley Health

After graduating college, Dr. Berzin took a job in New York City prosecuting securities fraud with the U.S. Attorney. Just like several college graduates, she was fatigued, uptight, and not pursuing her true passion. It was during that time, while in a yoga class, that she had a “lightbulb going off”: she exercised yoga so as to help keep herself healthy and sane, and knew that it could do the same for other people. Yet, unluckily, most people did not have the knowledge, motivation, or resources to tap into such sound lifestyle choices as yoga that could help prevent disease.

Furthermore, years of studying public health in college and witnessing her dad’s experience as a primary care doctor strengthened her belief that conventional medicine alone wasn’t the solution; instead, things like yoga, nutrition, meditation, and lifestyle changes should be the first line of defense in preventing disease. Having this in her mind, she arrived at the decision to go to medical school so that she could help people heal and prevent disease in a more holistic way. Afterward, Dr. Berzin went to medical school at Columbia University, with a view to obtaining a solid conventional medicine education that she could leverage to heal patients in a “nonconventional” way. Speaking of her schooling experiences, “I went there with the desire to practice medicine in a different way, which made me really different from day one at a place where pretty much everyone wants to be a cardiac surgeon.”

Robin Berzin at her house
Image source: Kenza Mose

Then, after graduation, Dr. Berzin trained at The Institute for Functional Medicine. As she got deeper into her training, the physician realized that there existed a vicious cycle perpetuating the lack of access to functional medicine in the U.S. “The conversation that I wanted to start is that primary care is broken," Dr. Berzin shared. Particularly, “according to the CDC, 70% of diseases in our country are chronic and lifestyle-driven. And yet instead of addressing the root causes of health problems, medicine’s toolkit is limited to prescriptions and procedures, driving up costs while the average person gets sicker. The answer isn’t just another pill.”

Additionally, since the majority of medical practices and insurance plans do not provide functional medicine care for patients, many medical school students choose not to pursue functional medicine out of fear that they won’t be able to find a job afterward. Thus, the challenges she came up against are not only to make functional medicine accessible and affordable for people but also to offer a training ground for physicians and clinicians who desire to practice medicine this way.

And that’s exactly what she did: In 2016, Dr. Robin Berzin founded Parsley Health, a membership-based wellness practice based in New York. By deploying and integrating a technology-driven practice, systems biology approach—looking at the whole picture to grasp the root cause of health issues, instead of just treating a symptom — and beautiful branding, Parsley Health stands out as "millennial catnip" that is "less sterile sickbay, more wellness concierge."

How Parsley Health Delivers Its Mission to Heal American Healthcare

Parsley Health website
Courtesy: Parsley Health

How Parsley Health Works

Operating in three cities (i.e. New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco) as well as having treated thousands of patients so far, Parsley Health has an incredible team of top doctors and health coaches, all being dedicated to delivering their patients healthier leaves.

Rather than residing in a depressing stereotype clinic with stuffy waiting rooms, lightning-fast consults, and impersonal physicians, Parsley Health, for membership ranging between $150-$230 on a monthly basis, does promise a doctor’s visit fit for the modern era of wellness. Let’s start with ditching drab offices. Currently, Parsley resides inside WeWork buildings; so far, this has been the only operational medical practice ever allowed onsite. “WeWork heard my story about what I was trying to start with Parsley Health, believed in it, and made an exception [to their policy] — it's been awesome," proudly stated Dr. Berzin.

Another innovative point exclusively offered by Parsley Health is the practice of quality time spent with patients. In fact, the average medical practitioner spends only a few minutes with his or her patient; a 2016 report released by MedScape found physicians reported average visits of only 13-16 minutes. "It's impossible to really accomplish anything in that amount of time other than writing a prescription or refer to somebody else," Berzin commented. “You can certainly see from our health statistics that it's not making anyone better.”

Following the different approach, Parsley Health does dig in for comprehensive doctor-patient consults lasting an average of 50 minutes - an attempt to address what Dr. Berzin refers to as the problem of “living ourselves sick.” “The diseases of today, 70% of which are chronic and lifestyle-driven, are not hitting us on the head when we walk down the street — we are living our way into them. And yet, medicine isn't adapted to today's world.”

Specifically, during such a time period, the doctor will exhaustively go through that information to figure out a comprehensive picture of the patient's health. After that visit, the patient is going to have full transparency into his or her medical data together with some notes from doctors. Besides, those patients typically leave with a health plan, which includes lifestyle nutritional advice, and access to their own health coach. If necessary, Parsley doctors also write prescriptions, as well as further refers patients to top-of-the-line specialists.

Parsley Health physcian and patient in a collaboration
Source: Parsley Health

Generally, membership includes five annual visits with their doctors, which rounds out to about four hours, together with five sessions with their certified health coach. According to Dr. Berxzin, since there’s not a lot of knowledge around what a health coach does, clients are often confused about why they need one. “Well, think of it this way,” she went to explains. “Even Beyonce has a voice coach. Every top athlete has a coach, right? If you want to perform at the highest level, you need support.” So, that’s exactly what the health coaches at Parsley Health do: offer considerate support. These coaches will motivate and assist patients to stay on their health plan, whether it’s advice on physical exercise, how to have better sleep or even as simply as where to find take-out places with menu items to eat healthier meals.

Besides, throughout patients' membership, they are also granted full access to their medical data and doctor’s notes online, as well as unlimited direct messaging with their doctor. At Parsley, there is always a doctor on call to answer their concerns as to semi-urgent issues such as a urinary tract infection (UTI) or a sinus infection.

What should be well noted is that all of Parsley’s doctors and health coaches are full-time employees and the company sees a lot of inbound from doctors who wish to spend more time with patients and help to address the root of their problems. Moreover, this New York-based medical clinic does design training programs on functional medicine for their doctors, which leverages a systems-biology approach to better resolve and manage modern chronic disease, as part of Parsley’s clinical fellowship, where they are trained in evaluating thousands of biomarkers to diagnose and treat diseases at their origin. Actually, Parsley Health is not the first in the space. Forward and One Medical have also taken attempts so as to change the way that healthcare is provided in this country.

“When I tell people about Parsley, they say “Wow! That’s what medicine should be’,” shared Dr. Berzin. “People are really searching for something better than feeling like they’re paying more and more for healthcare while getting less and less. People are excited to invest in their health and wellness and to have a team that’s working to care for them.”

How Parsley Health Appeals Funding Investments and Leverages Those to Foster Its Success

Dr. Berzin has barely begun to roll up her sleeves. By October 2019, Parsley Health announced to “nab” a $26 million Series B round of funding led by White Star Capital, with participation from FirstMark Capital, Amplo, Alpha Edison, Arkitekt Ventures, Trail Mix Ventures, and Galaxy Digital. In addition to the afore-mentioned health ventures, Flatiron Health founder Nat Turner and One Medical founder Tom Lee also participated in the round.

On the heels of the new funding, Dr. Berzin started off launching a novel telemedicine product, which was meant to grant individuals across the country the same access to Parsley’s service, just similar to those who visit their brick-and-mortar locations. Some offerings include diagnostic testing, personalized medical care from doctors who practice functional medicine, health coaching as well as 365-days-a-year access to their care team.

Parsley's first diagnostics product line is called Comprehensive Hormone Care that is designed to help women suffering from conditions and symptoms – for instance, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), premenstrual syndrome (PMS), fatigue, weight gain, insomnia, and anxiety – in order to detect the root cause and establish a full-rounded care plan. Comprehensive Hormone Care will include options to receive either a one-time analysis with a health plan or join as a member to receive health coaching and re-testing to track progress over time. Additional issue-specific at-home diagnostics products are expected to launch in the year ahead.

Robin Berzin with her patient and check blood pressure
Source: Robin Berzin MD

At the outset, telemedicine services were available statewide in New York and California with plans to scale to 50 states in the next six months.

"Parsley Health's unique model not only fosters a better, stronger relationship between health practitioners and patients but addresses the strong demand for functional medical services and easier access with their organic tech integration. We believe in Parsley's noble mission and continue to be impressed by its fast-growth in the US and its model that enables the company to generate multi-channel revenue from care memberships to e-commerce," commented White Star Capital Founder and Managing Partner, Eric Martineau-Fortin. "With this new investment, we are incredibly excited to work with the Parsley team to help further scale its modern personalized approach – a critical need of the healthcare industry across the world."

America spends approximately $3.5 trillion on healthcare each year, much of which goes to diseases that are data-proven to be effectively treated, prevented, and reversed with lifestyle and nutrition interventions. Guided by advanced testing and diagnostics, Parsley Health's outcomes-focused approach has been proved to hold the potential to empower patients across the country to feel better while also saving the healthcare system billions of dollars.

"Parsley Health is delivering the future of primary care," noted Nat Turner, Founder, and CEO of Flatiron Health. "From the advanced clinical model designed to reduce chronic illness while optimizing health, to the tech-enabled consumer-grade user experience, they are proving novel ways to improve outcomes and lower costs. I'm proud to join them again as an investor in their latest round of funding and to watch the company scale nationally."

The Bottom Line

With a unique approach blending cutting-edge testing, nutrition, wellness, and prevention with conventional medicine, Parsley Health is truly the next level of primary care. Standing out as the first and only vertically integrated digital health solution for reversing chronic disease and optimizing health, this New York-based medical institute has made great strides in its tremendous efforts of rebuilding the health landscape from the inside out. As Parsley Health CEO and founder, Dr. Robin Berzin has also gone a long way on a mission to heal American healthcare, weaving technology, and science-backed wellness into the core of her practice, and transforming the way Americans approach healthcare.

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