Transforming How America Treats Chronic Disease

Through her growing tele-health platform, Parsley Health founder Robin Berzin is making holistic healthcare more accessible across the country.

By Lauren Fisher

Robin Berzin always dreamed of becoming a doctor. But when she landed her first hospital job, she became disillusioned by the state of American healthcare: rushed appointments, a lack of nutrition in treatment plans, and an endless stream of prescriptions. “My job was essentially to sign prescriptions as fast as possible,” Dr. Berzin recalls. “I had a minimal amount of time with each patient, and often, even if they had lifestyle and diet-based conditions, the only tool in my toolbox was the prescription pad.”

It was then that the Columbia-trained physician decided to jump off the hamster wheel designed, she says, to benefit pharmaceutical and insurance companies and create a medical startup that prioritized patients’ wellness first. In 2016, she founded Parsley Health, a holistic medical practice combining modern medicine with nutrition and data-backed science to find the root cause of a patient’s medical condition. As of 2021, she has raised over $100 million in funding and become the largest holistic medical service in the country. 

Approximately six in 10 U.S. adults have a chronic disease, according to the CDC, ranging from heart disease to diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, hormone imbalance, and more. Parsley Health takes an in-depth approach to treating and preventing these chronic conditions, many of which, Dr. Berzin notes, can be managed or reversed with lifestyle-driven factors such as nutrition, sleep, mental health, and wellness. According to Health Services Research, the average doctor’s visit in America lasts 17.4 minutes—with the physician only speaking to the patient for an average of 5.2 minutes.To go beyond a traditional doctor’s scope of work, Parsley offers personalized health plans based on advanced testing and, most importantly, real conversations with your doctor. At Parsley, your first appointment is 1 hour and 15 minutes; the shortest appointment available is 30 minutes, giving doctors the time they need to thoroughly examine a patient’s list of concerns. 

We spend hours with our members over the course of each year, digging deep into the lifestyle and nutrition changes they need to make.

Dr. Berzin’s holistic approach, however, does not mean trading in traditional medicine for crystals. “Our toolbox has a prescription pad, but it also has guidance for integrating meditation into your life to lower your anxiety levels, tweaking your breakfast so you have more energy, and other long-term fixes that bridge the gap between medicine and wellness,” she explains. “We spend hours with our members over the course of each year, and we dig deep into the lifestyle and nutrition changes members need to make.” 

This level of in-depth support is a game-changer for women whose doctors have long dismissed reproductive, menstrual, and mental health issues. Endometriosis, which affects more than 6.5 million women in the U.S., can take anywhere from six to 10 years to diagnose (with most doctors disregarding women’s symptoms merely as “bad periods”). As a result, women consult at least 3-4 physicians before receiving an official diagnosis. Similarly, PCOS, which affects an estimated 5 million women in the U.S., often goes undiagnosed for the same reasons (along with lack of medical research and doctor’s training on women’s health). Historically, these conditions have been treated with nothing more than a birth control prescription. 

“Many young women go on the birth control pill very early in life and end up masking underlying hormonal issues,” explains Dr. Berzin. “When they’re ready to get pregnant, after a few months off the pill, they suddenly uncover this minefield like PCOS, endometriosis, irregular cycles, or hypothyroidism. At Parsley, we do in-depth diagnostic testing around hormones, counseling women about their birth control and reproductive options early, so that our female members are having those conversations before they are ready to get pregnant.”

The Parsely clinics in New York and Los Angeles are designed to incorporate biophilic interiors, an approach that uses natural elements to improve mental and physical wellbeing. For now, though, Parsley is focused on its growing telemedicine platform, bringing holistic healthcare to areas of the country that have never had access to fully integrative medicine. Photograph: Reid Rolls

Parsley clinicians go beyond the traditional doctor’s checklist, utilizing comprehensive lab work, specialty testing, and one-on-one consultations to look at a patient’s complete health picture—including your genetic and lifestyle factors, plus health history—then personalize a health plan tailored to you. The comprehensive program (available on a medical membership program for $175/month which includes five annual clinical visits, five annual health coach visits, and advanced diagnostic testing for genetics and hormones) covers everything from nutrition to fitness and mental health recommendations, lifestyle adjustments, supplements, as well as any traditional medicine needed. Patients are able to use FSA/HSA dollars or out-of-network insurance reimbursements towards membership fees, medical tests, and recommended supplements. According to Parsley, most members get up to 70 percent of their membership fee reimbursed as out-of-network medical care. 

With two brick-and-mortar clinics in New York and one in Los Angeles (all designed to incorporate biophilic interiors, an approach that uses natural elements to improve mental and physical wellbeing), Parsley is focused on its growing telemedicine platform—bringing holistic healthcare to areas of the country that have never had access to fully integrative medicine. Dr. Berzin was ahead of the telemedicine curve before COVID-19, launching virtual appointments in 10 states in January 2020. With the pandemic challenging millions to prioritize—and reevaluate—their health and wellbeing, Parsley Health saw a 20 percent increase in its virtual memberships from February to September 2020, in turn expanding its telemedicine appointments to all 50 states by the end of 2020. On a broader digital scale, Parsley views itself as a trusted education tool, utilizing social media to share wellness guides, hormone resources, and a video series with healthcare professionals—information women are likely not receiving from their primary doctors, says Dr. Benzin

“Medical information needs to be something that’s in everyone’s hands. The more you understand how your body works and how medicine works, the more empowered you are to take those steps,” she adds. “Content for us (our blog, newsletter, social media, and videos) has always been part of our service. We give away so much content for free because we view our role as being that trusted translator, helping create a generation of people who are more knowledgeable, educated, and invested in their health.” 

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