Dr. Tiffany Mullen co-founded Vytal Health with Dr. Alex Yampolsky in July of 2018, and their focus on personalized, affordable care has only grown stronger since then. Vytal Health is a telemedicine company that provides continuous, long-term relationships with patients via digital channels. The two doctors were inspired to start the business because people were searching for answers to health problems and not finding them in traditional avenues.
As new business owners, Dr. Mullen and Dr. Yampolsky had to create and refine their working relationship, make a few mistakes and find funding along the way. Dr. Mullen turned to the UW-Milwaukee Small Business Development Center (SBDC) after being referred by a friend who was also an SBDC client. Seeking a female mentor and sound business advice, Dr. Mullen found Cheryl Mitchell, a consultant at the SBDC. Cheryl was able to assist with creating a business model and introducing the new business owner to investors. Cheryl said, “Dr. Mullen is putting together the dots of what people really need through her online platform. She has created a way to really address and care for the whole person.”
PIVOTING DUE TO PANDEMIC
In 2018, telemedicine was a difficult concept for people to embrace, but due to the COVID-19 crisis, meeting with a doctor via video conference has become a normalized practice. Anxiety and fear clients might have about meeting online has decreased. Dr. Mullen described the highly personalized, functional approach used at their practice as discovering the root cause of symptoms instead of just treating the symptoms. She said, “We want people to feel listened to, heard and cared for.” The business accomplishes this goal by spending time with clients, honoring their value systems and truly considering their lifestyles and needs.
In 2019, patient feedback indicated a want for continued relationships with Vytal as primary care physicians. So, the doctors created a primary care membership model which incorporated a monthly fee and access to more than just one service, but they were still fundraising for this model when COVID-19 hit. The doctors quickly realized they couldn’t role out a model that asked people to commit to a subscription cost when many clients weren’t sure if they would have insurance or even a job.
So instead, they pivoted. They temporarily shifted to a model in which people simply paid what they could. In some cases, people couldn’t pay at all, but Vytal remained dedicated to helping people -especially during the medical pandemic. They promoted this model via social media and free radio podcasts because there was no budget for marketing. The results were amazing: the practice gained more than 60 new clients and saw a 68% revenue increase.
Accomplishments with UW-Milwaukee SBDC
- Business Model
- Pivot guidance
MOVING TO THE FUTURE
The company thrives even as the COVID-19 crises persists, and Dr. Mullen continues to seek advice through the UW-Milwaukee SBDC. “Cheryl knows her stuff. I want to talk with her every day.” The health map and symptom quiz on Vytal’s website are just two ways the company meets the patient right where they are right in the current moment to offer integrative, compassionate care. The business owners look forward to their continued growth as they expand their online reach to “get people healthy.”