It’s no secret that many physicians practicing medicine in the United States are frustrated with the state of medical care. From managing insurance paperwork to reduced payments to less time available for patients, doctors find that their passion for patient care is increasingly at odds with the system.
Enter physicians turned entrepreneurs. Women especially are working overtime to launch wellness-related businesses that leverage their medical expertise to benefit a greater number of clients and help themselves find greater satisfaction in the medical profession.
Doctors Recommend Vitamins
Two such physicians are Dr. Arielle Levitan and Dr. Romy Block, co-founders of Vous
Vitamin, which delivers personalized vitamins to customers based on an online survey to determine the optimal customization.
Within their respective fields—Levitan is an internist and Block an endocrinologist—they found their patients were increasingly confused about vitamins and supplements, partially because the media has inundated the public with often-conflicting information. Plus, both doctors repeatedly heard similar complaints from their patients: thinning hair and fatigue. Many patients with these symptoms suspect a thyroid problem, when, in fact, they are deficient in vitamin D and iron.
“We’ve developed these skills from years of practicing medicine, and we see common trends among our patients,” Levitan says. “We recognized that there’s a bigger role we can play by filling this niche for the public in delivering quality, personalized vitamins.”
The benefits to consumers are multifold. They receive a personalized vitamin based on their individualized needs. For example, if they live in a northern climate, their vitamin includes a hefty does of vitamin D; if they adhere to a vegan diet, it will include vitamin B12. Vous also sells “situational supplements,” such as the “recovery act” pack, designed to build up the body’s defenses against dehydration, electrolyte depletion and other toxic effects of alcohol.
With the online survey, patients “don’t need to wait six months for me to recommend a customized vitamin that will help many common complaints,” Block says.
These physicians’ entrepreneurial spirit hasn’t lost steam yet. The duo is now writing a book compiling all the information they’ve learned about vitamins and supplements throughout their medical careers and while developing Vous Vitamin. “The Vitamin Solution” will address people’s confusion and offer guidance as to what role vitamins should play in overall health.
“Starting Vous and writing the book—it’s given both of us a more creative outlet,” Levitan says.
OB/GYN Finds Reward in Helping Prevent Disease
While Dr. Inbar Kirson was practicing medicine as an obstetrician and gynecologist, there was a recurring theme with her patients: they wanted to know how to lose weight and maintain that weight loss, and everything they were doing based on then-current dietary advice simply wasn’t working.
So Kirson did what she could to help. She poured over research and tried different approaches with her patients, eventually finding an entire field of bariatric medicine that wasn’t quite mainstream in the U.S. Thus, she became certified in bariatric medicine and in 2007, along with her husband and another colleague—both emergency room physicians—launched Physicians for Weight Loss in Northbrook.
“The satisfaction is immeasurable,” Kirson says about helping patients prevent lifelong diseases by managing their weight. “I feel like I’m making more of an impact on my patients. It’s been amazing to help people make meaningful lifestyle changes and help them lead healthier lives.”
Physicians for Weight Loss not only serves as a medical practice, but also sells meal replacements and supplements. It’s a cash business, meaning patients pay as they go and the physicians do not accept insurance. This type of arrangement has freed up time for Kirson to develop relationships with her clients that otherwise would have been impossible under the constraints of medical insurance billing requirements.
While Kirson found the doctor-patient relationship as an OB/GYN to be a rewarding part of the job, she’s now spending time to understand patients’ needs and lifestyles in a way that she couldn’t have done in her previous practice.
“Your hands are tied with insurance,” Kirson says. “You can’t bill for the type of counseling that I do now. My patients know they’re getting my full attention and support. It’s very individualized care.”
Furthermore, as a doctor, business owner and mother of young children, Kirson has found a balance in her life that was elusive in her former days as an insurance-based physician.
“I’m home to help my kids with homework, I’m available to go to their school and I can adjust my own schedule,” she says. “It’s been wholly life-changing.”
Physicians for Weight Loss, 950 Skokie Blvd., Northbrook, 847-256-8446
Family Practice and Integrative Medicine Doc Gets Juicing
Dr. Leslie Mendoza Temple’s business venture Mingle Juice Bar in The Glen Town Center was born of Temple’s own experimentation and subsequent commitment to drinking freshly pressed vegetable and fruit juices to improve her health.
Temple’s juice bar, co-founded with partner Kimberly King, is a natural outgrowth of her years practicing family and integrative medicine on the North Shore with a current practice in Glenview. To be sure, it was seeing the movie “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead” that propelled her to explore juicing as a way to reverse chronic disease.
“My skin glowed, my energy improved and my mind felt sharper after adding more juice to my diet,” Temple says. “I became attracted to the idea of having a business making juice to help people get healthier without the work” of buying all the produce and then processing it into the juice, which can be quite time consuming.
Mingle Juice Bar, which opened in 2014, offers cold-pressed juices, smoothies, “wellness shots,” raw nut milks, organic soups, salads, and açaí bowls, in addition to other wholesome snacks. The owners and staff will also work with customers to find the optimal juice and food cleanses to “detox” the body.
Temple says that finding balance as a physician, business owner and mother doesn’t come easy.
“I find it wherever I can,” she says. “I find it by saying no to speaking opportunities and evening work-related activities. I have young children, and they won’t be little forever.”
Starting a business takes patience, risk and a lot of faith, Temple says. She recommends not underestimating how much time one has to really devote to any side business; preparing a strong business plan; and ensuring financial preparedness to absorb at least two years of losses while the business gains traction.
Mingle Juice Bar, 1830 Tower Road, Glenview, 847-834-0659