21 Feb 2019 • Institutions
This Fifth Avenue flagship clinic signals the impending makeover of American healthcare
In the beginning, Parsley Health was operating its membership-based primary care practice out of WeWork locations in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York. Now, only a little over two years later, they’ve opened their first flagship on Fifth Avenue, complete with a millennial-friendly living room – er, clinic – designed by Alda Ly Architecture.
Doctor Robin Berzin started the membership-based primary care provider with a clear mission in mind: to pose an alternative to the United States’ broken healthcare system. Last year, Parsley Health announced a nearly 8.9 million euro round of Series A funding from FirstMark capital.
The price tag of health is higher than it’s ever been in America: according to the 2018 Milliman Medical Index, the cost of a projected insurance plan for a family of four is nearly 25,000 euros. It’s an exorbitant number, especially considering that the real cost often surpasses even this estimate. And the return on investment – healthcare as an investment, of all things – does not always match the expense. Hasty care, unaffordable prescription drugs and a lack of transparency just scratch the surface of the issues that plague the system. A West Health survey revealed last year that 44 per cent of Americans skipped necessary medical treatment because of prohibitive costs.
Sensibly, millennials are disillusioned with this system. According to a poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 45 per cent of 18-to-29 year olds don’t even have a primary care provider, opting instead to go to urgent care or avoid the problem altogether when an issue arises. But should the generation be blamed for wrecking yet another pillar of traditionalism?
Berzin and Parsley Health think not.
It’s hardly shocking that for urbanites with a subscription to everything – from luxury gyms, to orthodontia, to Frank Ocean’s discography – a primary care replacement with a model like Parsley’s would be an attractive one. Parsley does something far beyond just attract millennials with their own moralistic reflection, though – they introduce a methodology that could effectively introduce convenience, connectivity and relative affordability to medical care for all.
An individual membership starting at approximately 132 euros a month gives a patient five doctor visits and five health coach visits annually, access to 24/7 online messaging and advanced biomarker testing. It also includes invitations to Parsley community events such as hiking and cooking classes.
Alda Ly Architecture’s 511 sq-m interiors for the Fifth Avenue flagship say something important about the quintessence of Parsley Health: the care is not just wellness-based, it’s holistic. It’s preventative, not reactive. And above all, it fosters interpersonal relationships: both between patients and medical professionals, and patient to patient. The Parsley Center was specifically designed to bridge the gap between medicine and wellness. Along with coaching and exam rooms, the centre also boasts an on-site café, a diagnostic testing lab and uniquely, a supplement pharmacy.
The Parsley Center is likeable, it’s open and it’s comfortable: everything that the majority of clinics in the United States are not
It’s both biophilic and technologically cutting-edge, now an almost-necessary interior marriage for modern spaces. With its muted jewel tones, rattan chairs and generous windows, the space looks like an enviable Brooklyn loft, or one saved to a Scandinavian moodboard on Pinterest. It’s likeable, it’s open and it’s comfortable: everything that the majority of clinics in the United States are not.
Yet one perceptible criticism of Parsley Health is, for now, the unrepresentative audience that it caters to. As equitable as the strategy and interiors aspire to be, the additional costs for more extensive medical treatment and medications may render Parsley’s plans infeasible. And there’s the location issue: the people who would most benefit Parsley’s brand of care are likely not the ones living in the most expensive regions in the United States (however, remote video appointments can be made after the first meeting).
But here’s to remaining hopeful. An expansion beyond Fifth Avenue would spell out considerable trouble for traditional healthcare, and set in motion an unimaginably positive metamorphosis for the lifestyle of Americans nationwide.