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The company also opened its first clinic, located in St. Paul, Minnesota
The US healthcare system consistently, and systematically, fails to provide the right care for senior women: they are misdiagnosed at higher rates than men, take longer to diagnose, and often express frustration at not feeling heard, often being asked to “prove” their symptoms to physicians.
That is what led to the founding of Herself Health, a company designed to deliver advanced primary care to women over 65 who are enrolled in Medicare and, soon, Medicare Advantage. The idea is to link their health goals with their life goals, taking into account a patient’s physical, mental, social, sexual, and spiritual needs.
"Women were not even included in clinical trials until the 1990s, and even today women suffer increased adverse side effects from many drugs due to assumptions around a male 'standard patient'," Herself Health founder and CEO Kristen Helton told VatorNews.
"These issues are compounded with healthcare’s universal shortcomings, including not giving patients enough time with doctors and expecting them to navigate their own care across specialists.Herself Health is built by women for women, bringing keen insight and empathy to traditional primary care."
Herself recently announced two major pieces of news: it opened its first clinic, located in St. Paul, Minnesota, and it raised a $7 seed round led by founding partner Juxtapose, which Helton co-built.
Along with the funding, it was also revealed that Mindy Grossman, Partner at the Consello Group, has joined the board at Herself Health.
"As the former CEO of WW (formerly Weight Watchers) Mindy Grossman brings an incredible history of building products and brands to help digital and physical communities of women live their happiest and healthiest lives," said Helton.
When a patient joins Herself Health, the clinicians starts by performing an extensive interview and health evaluation to create a care plan with their patients, which includes targeting common concerns like osteoporosis, weight management, and emotional well-being.
The company takes an omnichannel approach to care; along with its new clinic, the company also plans to expand to include virtual care touchpoints and eventually, in-home care.
"At our inaugural clinic, patients receive care for all of their urgent and everyday care needs, as well as issues unique to womens’ health and weight management. Our multidisciplinary care team will provide tailored assessments and collaborate with patients towards personalized health and lifestyle goals," said Helton.
"All Herself Health clinicians participate in advanced training to deliver patient-centered, value-based care that enables older adults to achieve the highest possible outcomes."
In traditional, fee-for-service payment models, doctors are paid based on the number of visits and tests they complete, which can lead to rushed appointments, unnecessary procedures, and exhausted doctors. In an at-risk model, physicians, particularly those in primary care, are incentivized to keep people healthy and out of expensive sites of care, like the hospital, because they receive a fixed payment for each patient each month, but are financially liable for any medical costs incurred by that patient including hospitalizations, specialists, procedures, etc.
Herself Health was built to succeed in an at-risk model and is now working with health plans to move toward at-risk reimbursement arrangements in the near future.
As the company, which was founded in 2022, just launched and started to see patients, so it isn't able to share any ROI at this time, but it Helton was able to share some of what she has heard so far from its members.
"We’ve heard from patients that they don’t feel heard and they don’t have enough time with their doctors. Core to our approach is empowering patients. We are building a flexible model, in-person, virtual, and eventually in-home, to meet our patients on their terms. Working back from patients means we listen to understand what matters most to them and tailor care plans to meet their goals and needs," she said.
The new funding will be used to further develop the company's patient experience, expand its clinic footprint to meet patient demand, and to expand its team in both clinical and corporate roles.
The aim of Herself Health is to be an organization that supports women over 65, allowing them to enjoy more of life; that means giving them support in their medical as well as their wellness goals so they can be independent and live to their fullest.
"That support will come through wellness programs that are oriented around all of their needs: mind, body, and soul. A healthy lifestyle extends beyond the walls of a clinic," Helton explained.
"Whether it’s through engaging them in the community, connecting them with social resources, offering mental and emotional guides, or their aspirations around mobility and movement. Our goal is to empower and support Herself Health patients throughout their journey."
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