Robin Berzin is the founder and CEO of Parsley Health, a new platform revolutionizing health care in the USA. We met her for an interview
Preventative health care through natural and holistic nutrition is something that’s very important in my life. Therefore I was very happy when I saw that Robin Berzin was going to be a speaker at this year’s Tech Open Air festival in Berlin.
For those who haven’t heard of her and her project Parsley Health, Robin is a functional medicine doctor practicing in New York City. Her main objective is a focus on getting to the root cause of diseases (rather than just treating the symptoms) by using diet, exercise, lifestyle, stress management, nutrition, herbal medicines, and natural remedies wherever possible.
With her platform Parsley Health, she wants to guide people on their own journey to being well. Aside from being a graduate of the medical school at Columbia University, she is a certified yoga teacher and has studied Ayurveda (the traditional medicine of India), all of which makes her an exceptional woman and our next “Woman We Love.”
How did you first come up with the idea to create a platform and community that makes health care more accessible?
I’ve always believed that nutrition, wellness, and prevention should be part of medicine – access to doctors using new technologies and data shouldn’t just be for celebrities. But it wasn’t until I co-founded another company in the health care tech space that I felt like I – as a physician practicing this kind of wellness-focused medicine – had an opportunity to use my tech background to create a lifestyle brand, community, and platform as well as an actual health care service to bring a different perspective on medicine to everyone.
We started in New York in 2015. Since then we’ve expanded to Los Angeles and San Francisco, also creating an amazing newsletter and being active on social media and through our blog. We are really out there to educate people to improve their health.
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Could you briefly explain what Parsley Health is and why one should become part of it?
Parsley Health is basically a better doctor. We are a new alternative to conventional medical care. You become a member for an annual fee and get a top doctor, a behavioral health coach, recommendations, and specific prescriptions for nutritional supplements, lifestyle changes, as well as microbiome, hormone, and toxin tests. We do all of this not only to help you to tackle the illnesses you have along the way – we actually look underneath to the root cause of why you might not feel well, and with an amazing team that’s there to help you achieve your highest level of health now and in the future.
Do you think this concept could be the future of the industry? And what do you think about a public health system that is accessible for most/all citizens?
Even if we had universal health care coverage today in the US – which I do support – the care that we are giving is the wrong care. It’s backward, focused on pharmaceutical drugs, very expensive, and there is a lack of transparency. So I believe that Parsley Health is the blueprint for a better way of offering general primary care medicine and we’ve built this initial capsule, this initial perfect version of it while growing over time. With our membership fee of $150 per month, it is extremely accessible – even though still not for everyone.
For me, it’s the first step in creating a blueprint and a template for a much better kind of medical care that is much more effective and much lower cost in the end.
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Where do you see problems in the health service industry in general?
First of all, I believe that we – doctors and healthcare providers – are a consumer-facing business and the intermediary of insurance, wherever this comes from, actually divorces the service provider from the consumer, which is the patient. I believe that there should be a more direct consumer element in health care services where the consumer pays directly for some portion of their care to increase the pressure on the provider system to deliver higher service.
We need to create a scenario where data flows back and forth between the patient and the health care provider, and the provider analyzes those things and understands who their patients are to build a long-term relationship with them. Amazon, for example, uses all of its data to keep you as a customer as long as possible. Our health care system does not do this because it’s not designed to create a constant feedback loop of conversation between the user, the patient, and the provider system. You need a two-way dialogue, not a one-way street.
Why did you start with supplements and protein shakes, and what’s special about them?
Supplements are part of our care and we feel some of them are really helping our customers, since they are really powerful tools in medicine. We have our own labeled supplements and other natural, professional-grade supplements. They are professional, tested, made in great pharmaceutical facilities, and only available through doctors. All in all, they are much higher in quality. Sometimes you don’t need a doctor – you just need general guidance. Therefore, we also have the protein shakes or vitamin D and magnesium, because these are really simple tools that many people can benefit from to improve their health. We use them as we use medication.