Parsley Health rolls out comprehensive women's health program as company rapidly builds out employer-focused business

Primary care provider Parsley Health is rolling out a women's health program designed to offer coordinated medical care for a range of chronic conditions and health needs from a single virtual "homebase."

The program is available to self-insured employers and plan sponsors nationwide as the startup ramps up its focus on building out its enterprise business.

The program specifically targets high-risk and rising-risk populations whose care accounts for 80% of healthcare spend, according to Robin Berzin, M.D., founder and CEO of Parsley Health.

There is currently a gap in the employer-focused market for hybrid care solutions that address working women's complex care needs, she said.

"We started testing the waters about a year ago, launching with self-insured employers in the past year who saw a need for comprehensive whole health for women and families, particularly for that cohort that is high and rising risk with real health complexities and chronic conditions whose needs aren’t served by either existing primary care or specialty services," she said in an interview to give a sneak peak at the new program before officially announcing it.

Parsley Health says it is redesigning primary care by integrating the latest in medical testing, technology and nutrition research.

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. The idea is to focus on the source of a medical issue rather than the symptoms, she noted.

Women’s healthcare expenses are among the highest for employers and families: Menopause care alone costs employers $27 billion annually, maternal morbidity results in $6.6 billion in productivity losses each year and approximately $80 billion is spent annually on autoimmune condition management for women, who account for 80% of all autoimmune disorders. Further, 20% of women of reproductive age have multiple chronic conditions, contributing significantly to the nearly $3.15 trillion spent annually on care for chronic conditions.

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've seen it over and over again, a woman dealing with migraine headaches and also an autoimmune disease, irregular periods trying to get pregnant, and a skin rash and she will bounce around to five different docors for five different symptoms. Effectively, the fragmentation of our healthcare system is her problem and that's not fair," Berzin said.

Those health barriers can lead to increased absenteeism, decreased productivity and an elevated possibility for missed diagnosis due to the gap in communication between providers. Women's health is a major issue for employers as women make up more than half of the workforce, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If female employees are unable to access comprehensive health services designed for their needs, that can drive up employers’ healthcare costs and can prevent top talent from reaching their professional potential, Berzin noted.

"At Parsley, we've taken a group of providers and technology combined with root cause medicine. Our primary care providers treat conditions in a specialized way and can treat the root cause. By connecting the dots across the body and the ecosystem, we're able to comprehensively take care of these patients in one place and knock out many birds with one stone."

The company claims that by focusing on high-touch, tech-enabled virtual care combined with 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. 

A recent Frontiers in Digital Health publication shows that Parsley’s method of providing large-scale holistic telehealth programs for the management of chronic diseases is proven to work, she noted.

Parsley’s approach to care includes longer visits, telehealth-first appointments, advanced risk assessment tools like the Parsley Symptoms Index and team-based care—all from providers with additional training in root cause analysis.

The company also has "rapidly adopted" value-based care arrangements so Parsley can work in partnership with purchasers, insurers and provider groups, she noted.

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. The latest women's health program joins other protocols Parsley recently announced for employers and benefit managers including menopause and autoimmune care.

Providing comprehensive healthcare anchored around root cause resolution medicine that holistically supports women and high-risk populations saves costs, improves health outcomes and is a key benefit to attract and keep top talent, noted Carladenise Edwards, former executive vice president and chief strategy officer at Henry Ford Health and member of Parsley Health’s medical advisory board.

“A recent survey shows that 71% of employees are concerned about their health benefits due to rising costs, and the majority of employees consider the quality of health benefits to be a key factor in staying at their job," Edwards noted. 

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.

"I think that our value proposition of being able to offer this comprehensive program for women's whole health that addresses  the needs that we're seeing in the space, from menopause to fertility support and trying to conceive to autoimmune conditions, which are highly expensive for employers," she said. "Employers don't have a lot of great solutions to manage these conditions comprehensively. So when we share with employers our independently validated outcomes data showing them a 2x ROI and a 32% reduction of medical spend and when they see we have a long-term track record of patient care and when they see that we offer virtual care that can meet variable needs across populations, across geographies, I think it’s resonating well as there is clearly a big gap in care."

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 March, the startup announced it 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