The Skift Wellness newsletter is our weekly dispatch focused on what’s happening in wellness from a global business standpoint. Skift Wellness lives where wellness meets commerce, mindfulness meets technology, the yoga studio meets the boardroom, and health meets business.
No one actually looks forward to their annual checkup. The visit either comes with bad news or reveals little more than you already know. But Parsley Health, a startup founded in 2016 by Dr. Robin Berzin, is looking to change the way we think about primary care visits. With its basic plan (not covered by insurance, but possibly reimbursable, according to the company), members receive five doctor visits and five health coaching sessions, plus a custom health plan and lab tests that delve deeper than typical blood work.
One of the company’s selling points is that it relies on doctors trained in functional medicine, which addresses the root cause of health issues, rather than just treating symptoms. Another one: It provides a calming and welcoming office space for patients, utilizing trends in wellness design and offering guests the latest health drinks and tonics to keep them coming back for more.
Because of frustrations with today’s medical system, a place like Parsley Health could attract a number of people looking for personalized solutions outside the current setup. However, the $150 per month membership may keep the very people who have the most need for the service from gaining access.
In other healthcare news, large insurance companies, like Aetna and John Hancock, have partnered with Apple to motivate plan holders to stay active. John Hancock is offering its Vitality program members an Apple Watch for a mere $25 if they meet exercise goals, while Aetna members can receive gift cards and subsidies when they meet activity goals through its new Apple Watch app, Attain. Whether it’s a good idea to share all this personal data with your insurance company is another story.
What’s next? Health and tech companies will only continue to converge in the years ahead. Be prepared for more partnerships, more startups, and even more health gadgets by tech giants (Google, for one, is developing health data-tracking shoes –– no big deal).
— Leslie Barrie, Wellness Editor
Health & Medicine
Parsley Health Looks to Revamp Primary Care: Would you like your doctor’s office to look more like a wellness space? Parsley Health, a primary care startup with clinics in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, bets you do. It offers a less sterile, more relaxing environment (complete with kombucha on tap) for patients, in addition to a “whole person” approach to medical care. Membership comes at a steep $150 per month, and the company hopes members can identify root causes of issues before they develop into full-on diseases through regular visits with its doctors and health coaches. Read more here.
Apple Partners With Aetna, While Google’s Verily Looks at Data-Tracking Shoes: Of course wearables give users interesting insights about their health habits. But now insurance companies want in on that information to potentially help motivate, treat, and diagnose patients. Thus, Aetna is partnering with Apple on a new Apple Watch app, utilizing data from user activity. Meanwhile, Google’s health-focused Verily branch is working on a shoe that detects weight, movement, and falls, further showing that the tech industry has a keen interest in consumer health. Read more here.
New York City Cracks Down on CBD-Infused Food and Drinks: A number of the city’s restaurants, bakeries, and coffee shops were served a tough blow (at least for sales), as the Department of Health has ordered businesses to stop selling CBD-infused edibles. The reasoning? It’s not “safe as a food additive,” according to federal guidance. The official announcement has caused confusion among business owners, considering CBD oil is legal when sold on its own. The crackdown may stop eateries for now –– or at least until the FDA figures out its policies –– but it probably won’t halt fans of CBD from consuming it on their own. Read more here.
Goop Goes Big With Netflix Series and Podcast Deal With Delta Airlines: What once started a decade ago as Gwyneth Paltrow’s wellness website is now a media empire. Over the years, Goop has expanded to books, a magazine, and even a summit series. Next, the brand will head to Netflix with a new docuseries that will cover issues relating to physical and spiritual health, as well as launch a podcast in partnership with Delta Airlines. The airline plans to stream episodes on 600 planes, giving Goop a chance to reach a whole new audience. Though the brand tends to polarize wellness fans, there’s no doubt these ventures will raise awareness of it in a sizable way. Read more here.
Casper Aims to Dominate All Categories of Sleep With Its New Gadget: The mattress brand doesn’t want to be known for, well, just mattresses anymore. It’s already expanded to sheets, pillows, and dog beds –– and in a move to further commodify how we sleep, it’s entering the gadget space with the launch of the new Casper Glow light. The device doesn’t track your slumber (giving you endless stats that could stress you out), but instead begins dimming before bedtime based on a time you set on your phone, so you’re gently lulled to sleep. The reverse happens in the morning. Expect more hardware to come from Casper, and given its brand recognition among millennials, expect more customers to flock. Read more here.
Beauty & Spa
What’s Up With Athleisure Makeup? More companies are cashing in on the “sweat in style” trend. For example, Puma and Maybelline joined forces for a new line that claims it’s a “high-performance makeup with a bold athleisure edge.” Meanwhile, Wet n Wild, Tarte, and Clinique all have lines geared toward looking good on the mat, like foundations that stay put and mascara that won’t smudge. It’s unclear whether these products actually work as they say and are truly different from each company’s non-fitness makeup lines. Others speculate it’s just a clever marketing tactic. Regardless, there’s probably still an audience, thanks to the thriving wellness scene. Read more here.
Food & Drink
Grain-Free Tortilla Brand Siete Family Foods Lands a $90 Million Investment: Talk about a big boost for the family-owned, Austin-based alternative tortilla company. Veronica Garza, the company’s co-founder, started making almond-flour tortillas due to an autoimmune disorder that required she remove grains from her diet. When her grandmother approved of the recipe, she and her brother knew they were onto something and started the business. The private equity firm Stripes Group, which just invested $90 million in the company, clearly knows it’s onto something, too. And with the new cash injection, Siete Family Foods will probably see more new products and rapid expansion throughout the country. Read more here.
Skift Wellness Editor Leslie Barrie [firstname.lastname@example.org] curates the Skift Wellness newsletter. Skift emails the newsletter every Thursday.