By Anna Lardinois, Startup Storyteller
Dr. Tiffany Mullen is living a purpose-driven life.
As a toddler, Mullen was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. The chronic disease meant her childhood was filled with countless doctor appointments and medical tests. Rather than feeling supported by her medical team, she felt frightened and vulnerable after years of impersonal care.
As an adult, she chose to pursue a career as a physician to ensure patients felt the compassionate caring her own medical treatment lacked.
Once she was in practice, she saw the demands made on doctors resulted in grueling schedules and physician burnout.
Again, Mullen looked to herself to make the changes needed in the healthcare system. She began her career with the goal of transforming the patient experience. This time, she put herself in the role of a “doctor healing healthcare.”
“The way that medical care is provided is very sporadic. It’s very transactional. It’s very reactive. And consequently, I think we just don’t do a good job of taking care of people,” Mullen said.
This belief led the family physician who specializes in Functional and integrative medicine to create a new healthcare platform that benefits both patients and physicians.Founded by Mullen and Alex Yampolsky, Vytal Health was launched in 2018 and offers functional medicine in an online healthcare platform.
Using a subscription plan business model, patients choose tiers of healthcare service from three annual plans. All plans include tele-appointments with physicians, nutritional supplements, and at-home medical testing kits, with some plans offering additional services like health coaching and sessions with a nutritionist.
Physicians around the country are clamoring to work with the Vytal Health team. They love the flexibility the telehealth model provides. Beyond the ability to work at home and set their own hours, Mullen suspects the appeal of working in this environment goes deeper. “Physicians trying to revive their hearts around the practice of medicine,” she said.
It is not just doctors who are weary of modern healthcare. Patients are also seeking alternatives to the traditional medical system. The demand for functional medicine is increasing dramatically. “Functional medicine works by solving health conditions at their root cause, rather than just covering up symptoms,” she said. According to Mullen “in the last five years Google searches for the term ‘functional medicine’ increased 5000%.”
Vytal Health patients are also attracted to the portability of the service. Users can remain with the physician of their choice regardless of their geographic location or other life changes that traditionally cause patients to switch doctors.
While patients are able to use their health saving accounts (HSAs) to pay for Vytal Health services, the company does not accept medical insurance. Because paying cash for medical appointments is a new experience for many patients, Mullen offers a risk-free way for people to begin working with the company.
“We offer what we call a ‘happiness guarantee’ where you come and do that initial consultation. If you don’t like it, or you don’t like the physician, we’ll just give you your money back, 100%, without any questions,” she said. We’ve never had to do it, but we just think that that really helps people lower the barrier to entry. And I think it just creates a sense of trust because we stand behind our doctors. We stand behind our work.”
The relationship-focused medical practice is burgeoning. They currently are able to treat patients in 41 states and will likely have national coverage shortly. “Now we can look at bringing in practices, bringing a physician and their patients, that I think will help us exponentially grow,” Mullen said.
The company has already raised $1.4 million in angel investments and will likely seek additional funding before the close of 2022 to support its rapid growth.
To connect with Vytal Health, click here.