Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Julie Beth Yelin, Founder of Choose Health Wellness Center, located in The Woodlands, TX, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I have a preventive medicine practice. I use bio-identical hormone replacement and functional medicine to help my patients optimize their health and maintain it lifelong. My patients are frustrated with conventional medicine. Patients feel that doctors do not really listen to them and that they are only given more prescriptions without benefit. My practice is different from almost all others in that I am the entire practice. I have no employees, so I wear all the different medical practice hats. I am the secretary, the nurse, and the doctor. I frequently startle new patients when I answer the phone.
My office visits are very lengthy, usually lasting an hour. I spend a great deal of time educating and discussing my patients' concerns. Patients are used to seeing the doctor for 5 or 10 minutes before a staff member takes over all other interactions. In my practice, patients always interact with me directly.
Most medical practices like mine do not accept health insurance and will not help patients get any benefit from their health insurance. These practices typically charge new patients thousands of dollars upfront at the first visit. I want to be available to as many people as possible, so my business model is very different. Although I am not contracted with any health insurance company, I do help patients try to get out-of-network benefits from their insurance and allow patients to use their insurance for testing. I started my medical practice without help from anyone. Although sometimes it feels overwhelming to be the secretary, nurse, doctor, IT support, website designer, etc., I am proud that I have provided my patient with such personal attention for over three years. Patients appreciate all of the time that I spend with them and the fact that I personally answer their questions. I work with my patients as a team to improve their health as naturally as possible.
Tell us about yourself
I usually surprise people when I tell them about my journey to my current preventive medicine practice.
Originally, I trained as ophthalmic plastic and reconstructive surgeon and practiced as one for a decade. Although not the main focus of my practice, I often gave my patients medical advice to prevent disease so they would not have to come to me to treat it. Unfortunately, preventive medicine is not a significant part of American medical school and residency education. Current conventional medicine is focused on treating diseases with various prescription medications. These medicines only serve as band-aids that mask a person's symptoms without fixing the problem. In fact, the medicines will often exacerbate the problem and cause unwanted side effects, which are then treated with even more medicine. In contrast, functional medicine focuses on getting to the root cause of the problem and fixing it to eliminate symptoms. Additionally, functional medicine has a more holistic and natural approach to medical care.
My personal philosophy has always been more in line with preventive medicine, so I decided to expand my medical education "outside of the box" of the conventional medical education. Although there is currently no official residency in preventive or functional medicine, I trained and became certified in the treatment of bio-identical hormone replacement to help patients optimize their health and prevent aging-related diseases. I practice preventive and functional medicine. As much as possible, I use more holistic and natural methods, including bio-identical hormone replacement and nutrition, to help my patients optimize and maintain their best health lifelong.
I started my preventive medicine practice in The Woodlands, Texas, in March 2014, and I have seen it grow exponentially yearly. I am fortunate that I do not need to advertise my practice, as new patients find me either by referral from a current patient or online when they are searching for bio-identical hormone replacement or holistic/functional medicine doctors.
Currently, not many doctors practice as I do, but I am confident that preventive, functional medicine will become more mainstream in the next years.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I have been fortunate that my hard work is paying off, and my practice continues to grow. I get great satisfaction by improving my patient's quality of life and decreasing their risk for disease as they age.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
I have two great challenges in my practice.
The first challenge in my practice is educating people about the pervasive myths commonly advertised regarding hormone replacement. Bio-identical hormones cannot be patented, so pharmaceutical companies cannot make much money selling them. Instead, pharmaceutical companies need to "tweak" the natural hormone so that they can patent their new "invention." The pharmaceutical companies' synthetic hormones are altered versions of our body's natural hormones. Because synthetic hormones have been changed from our body's natural hormones, they cause side effects and increase the risk of many diseases. In contrast, bio-identical hormones, which are the exact same molecule as the body's hormones, decrease the risk of many diseases. The pharmaceutical industry has billions of dollars to spend advertising on TV, radio, and print, as well as getting their synthetic hormones through the process to become "FDA approved." No one is spending money to advertise or get FDA approval for bio-identical hormones. Consequently, all of the education that the public – and the vast majority of the medical community – get is about synthetic hormones. I spend a lot of time educating patients about the health benefits of bio-identical hormones and dispelling the common myths about hormone replacement. Unfortunately, since most conventional medicine doctors have not been educated about the health benefits of bio-identical hormones, doctors often propagate the myths and discourage or scare patients away from using bio-identical hormone treatment.
The other big challenge in my practice is that our health insurance system is not supportive of preventive medicine. Most health insurance today will pay thousands of dollars to treat a patient after they are sick, but it often does not cover the minimal expense to help patients prevent disease and stay healthy.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
It is important to be hardworking, committed/dedicated, and persistent.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I feel successful when patients tell me how I have changed their lives for the better. Some patients come to me with tremendous symptoms that greatly impact their quality of life. When patients tell me how much better they feel physically and mentally since working with me, I feel I have accomplished my goal of helping people optimize their health. I continue to work with patients, so they maintain optimal health lifelong. I am honored each time a patient refers me to a family member or a friend or writes a positive review of me online. I am thrilled that I get a new patient each day, and my practice continues to grow.
Where can people find you and your business?
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