Primary care provider Parsley Health has inked deals with major insurers in New York and California to reach 10 million patients as an in-network service.
Parsley is now in-network with Aetna California and Blue Shield of California and a member of Mount Sinai Health System's clinically integrated network, the company announced Wednesday.
Patients in New York covered by Cigna, Empire BlueCross BlueShield, Emblem, United Freedom, United Oxford, Oscar, UMR Top Tier, Centivo or Aetna NY and in California covered by Aetna CA or Blue Shield CA can now access Parsley’s primary care in-network.
Parsley Health says it is redesigning primary care by integrating the latest in medical testing, technology and nutrition research.
Robin Berzin, M.D., founder and CEO of Parsley Health, told Fierce Healthcare that the primary care provider is designed to be a medical home base for patients’ complex health needs—treating and preventing multiple conditions at once, including autoimmune, gastrointestinal, cardiometabolic, hormonal and mental and behavioral health. The provider also supports reproductive health, including preconception, fertility, pregnancy, postpartum and menopause.
Berzin launched Parsley Health in 2016 to offer a unique approach to primary care centered on root cause resolution medicine. "Our doctors and teams are trained to find and treat the root cause and to treat people really comprehensively across nutrition and mental health and sleep and lifestyle in addition to medications and procedures," she said.
The idea is to focus on the source of a medical issue rather than the symptoms. "Our mission has always been to make the kind of medicine that we offer, which is pretty transformational, especially for people with chronic conditions, as accessible as possible," she said.
Parsley’s membership, now covered by insurance in California and New York, includes comprehensive doctor and health coach visits in addition to advanced diagnostic testing, unlimited messaging, personalized medications and nutritional guidance.
A physician trained at Columbia University and Mount Sinai, Berzin set out to launch a medical startup to address primary care gaps for women and families.
"I saw the kinds of gaps in care that close family members faced and people around me faced because of the way in which we have this very episodic and transactional and reactive system. My grandmother actually died much earlier than she needed to from colon cancer. She didn't have good primary care and didn't get a colonoscopy in time, which is not just a screening, but it's a life-saving intervention," she said in an interview.
"When I went to medical school and then to do my training and I observed firsthand that even at top places where I was fortunate enough to train, we truly have a revolving door between primary care and specialty care that is spinning faster and faster while patients get sicker and sicker," Berzin said. "For the majority of people who have health complexities, like my grandmother did, our system just wasn't designed to treat them, especially women."
She added, "I started Parsley Health to offer a primary care service that is more aligned, more accessible and more designed around the way we live our modern lives and one that would bring root cause medicine to scale."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 60% of U.S. adults have at least one chronic disease.
By focusing on the full continuum of care, particularly for women with chronic illnesses, Parsley Health aims to reduce conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes that put women at increased risk for maternal mortality and hospitalization, Berzin noted.
The company claims that by focusing on root cause resolution medicine, it has been able to improve or resolve symptoms for more than 85% of patients in the first year of care, while also significantly reducing prescription drug usage and referrals to specialists. An independently validated analysis of 20,000 high-cost patients with chronic conditions showed a 2x ROI and a 32% reduction of medical spend within 24 months, according to the company.
Parsley Health has raised over $100 million to date and completed its series C funding round in 2021, backed by Kinnevik AB, First Mark, White Star, TMV, Bedrock, Arkitekt, Alpha Edison, and AVP. In 2019, the startup nabbed $26 million in a series B round. Flatiron Health founder Nat Turner and One Medical founder Tom Lee have backed the company.
In 2019, Pasley began expanding its telehealth services, before the COVID-19 pandemic forced many providers to pivot to virtual.
"Telehealth is truly equity for women," Berzin said, noting that the majority of Parsley Health's members, about 80%, are women.
"We made the decision before COVID to largely expand virtually because we saw that we could just bring the best medicine to a lot more people that way," she said.
Parsley offers virtual-first medical services nationwide through telehealth visits.
The company also operates brick-and-mortar clinics in New York and Los Angeles. The clinics are designed to look nothing like a typical doctor's office—Parsley’s lobbies look more like a boutique hotel or a day spa.
Parsley Health currently works with "tens of thousands of members" across the country, according to Berzin.
As retailers like Walgreens, CVS, Walmart and tech giant Amazon push further into healthcare, Berzin says new players can accelerate the evolution of primary care. "I do think that retailers are in a unique position given their footprint, given their relationship with millions of consumers, whether that's Walmart or CVS or Walgreens, to really bring healthcare out into the community as part of your day-to-day experience," she said.
The startup founder says Parsley Health has had conversations with some retailers about augmenting their primary care and virtual care capabilities. "Some of the services that they want to offer, they'll build but then a lot of them they'll need to partner or buy because it is outside their core capabilities," she noted.
Each patient has a dedicated care team inclusive of a doctor, a health coach and a nurse care manager and the team can steer the patient to specialist care, if needed.
Parsley Health's focus on root cause resolution enables providers to treat many conditions, such as cardiometabolic conditions, that often get referred out to specialists. Berzin says data show that Parsley Health has reduced the need for specialty care by 77%.
At HLTH 2022 back in November, the company announced it was expanding to the enterprise market to service payers, providers and self-insured employers. That business has been growing quickly as employers and health plans recognize that women face a significant primary care gap.
"It's clear that women's health is a top priority for employers and payers right now," Berzin said. "Women's health started in fertility and fertility benefits and we need those services. I think what you're seeing right now is women's health expand beyond fertility and a deep recognition that women's health is more than reproductive health. Yet in a moment where there's a lot of point solutions fatigue, both employers and payers are looking for solutions that can do the following—they can address the full continuum of women's health needs, they can be the PCP and really own the patient and steer and coordinate care, that have a track record of real health outcomes data and that are available multistate or nationwide."
In the past year, Parsley Health has signed contracts with numerous tier-one provider systems, health plans, self-insured employers national pharmacy benefit managers and top women's health benefits providers, according to Berzin.
In 2023, Parsley is increasingly working with larger health plans and employers, rapidly expanding in-network coverage for patients since its first insurance deal with Aetna NY in May of 2022.
Carladenise Edwards, former executive vice president and chief strategy officer at Henry Ford Health and member of Parsley Health’s medical advisory board, called Parsley Health's primary care approach a "game-changer" for employers, payers and patients seeking support for complex medical needs alike. She noted that employers spend $530 billion a year on healthcare, the majority due to chronic illness.