Interviews

Kristen Helton of Herself Health

An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Kristen Helton (co-founder and CEO) of Herself Health, which was honored in our:
Tell us the origin story of Herself Health – what problem were you trying to solve and why?

Women are often ignored or dismissed in the U.S. healthcare system. Studies show that women are more likely than men to be misdiagnosed with conditions such as heart disease and autoimmune disorders. This challenge is even more acute with women who are over the age of 65 and often managing multiple chronic diseases. And, when women do get care, it is often through a limited, one-size-fits-all approach.

Herself Health was founded to set a much higher healthcare standard for women 65+. Our value-based care model is designed to serve women with comprehensive primary care that is personalized for each individual’s unique health goals. We hire doctors who specialize in the conditions commonly affecting women 65 and over such as arthritis and joint pain, weight management, heart health, mind-body wellness, and more. For example, one patient came to us because she was overweight. While many women this age are told to simply lose weight to improve their health, we took a holistic approach to reviewing this patient’s health chart to dig in further. We ended up discovering she had late-stage cancer, so we were able to intervene and get her the care needed.

We complement our personalized clinical model with social support to build community amongst our patients. Herself Health social programs include book clubs, TED talks, and virtual meditation. The results are healthier, happier women who are empowered to live their best lives.

What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?

In our journey to launch and build Herself Health, one of the major hurdles we’ve encountered, like many startups, is the need to rapidly reach scale while building the model. Until we reach a certain scale, it’s difficult to get the attention and buy-in of the local healthcare ecosystem to contract and partner. It’s a challenging balance to strike – scale fast enough to get enough patients to contract and take risk, but balance that with the need to build out our clinical and operational muscles and not burn cash too quickly before we reach critical milestones for the business. One of the things the team did really well was the early research on our patient population to understand deeply what their needs and challenges were with the current healthcare system. We crafted a service that delivers on those needs and built a scalable and efficient growth marketing platform to reach our target demographic.

What does the future hold for Herself Health?

I like to say we are in our “nail it” phase, where we are continuing to dial in our clinical model, operations, and technology. By the end of this year, we will be in five clinics across Minnesota. In the next five years, I expect us to scale dramatically, including expansion to new geographies and new services, reaching millions of women directly through our comprehensive care model. Ultimately, our vision is to be a health and wellness brand that is a well-known and trusted part of the community and ecosystem for women 65+.

What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Minnesota?

In addition to a strong healthcare ecosystem in Minnesota, there is a strong pipeline of technology companies and talent in the region. This is evident in the Biden-Harris administration identifying Minnesota as one of the Tech Hubs in the nation primed for innovation and job creation.

What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Building a company is hard and requires grit and perseverance. My advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is simple: pick a cause that you are passionate about and then surround yourself with a team, including investors, who share your commitment to your company’s mission, will work with you even when times get challenging, and celebrate with you in the big moments.

 

For more exclusive interviews, see our full Profile of a Founder series

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