There are 133 million Americans living with a chronic condition. Mazi Rasulnia, Ph.D., a veteran of the health care industry and president of Birmingham-based Pack Health, knew the health care system simply couldn’t handle the strain of that many people needing help. So, he came up with a better way with Pack Health – a digital coaching platform for chronic conditions.
“My background is in health care and I realized the same common theme – the only way to get people healthier is to go outside of the system,” Rasulnia said. “We don’t have the [manpower] for 133 million without going bankrupt.”
Since Pack Health started in 2014, it has grown to 37 employees and because of several recent strategic partnerships, it plans to hire up to 175 people over the next four years. That’s one of Birmingham’s largest job announcements in 2017, particularly in the technology sector, according to the Birmingham Business Alliance’s 2018 Regional Economic Growth Report.
Pack Health’s mission is to enable people with chronic conditions to live their happiest, healthiest lives. Its coaching covers over 20 conditions, ranging from cancer to multiple sclerosis to diabetes, asthma, psoriasis and weight management. Members, armed with a health advisor whose job is to check on you, motivate you, coach you and navigate care for you, find the complicated health care system a little simpler and more enjoyable.
“We offer one-on-one coaching and a personalized engagement process to help individuals not only get informed and educated about their condition, but also to coordinate their care,” Rasulnia said.
This can include everything from getting a second opinion from a doctor to helping members change underlying behaviors and form new habits that will help them advance their health. Pack Health helps solve what Rasulnia calls the 6,000-hour problem: humans are awake approximately 6,000 hours annually, but only typically spend less than one of those hours with their health care provider. In between those visits, there is Pack Health.
“It’s a different approach to providing access and care,” he said. “We coordinate care without putting the burden on the health care system to do so.”
Members come first, Rasulnia said.
“We go out of our way to make sure members are getting not only the right information, but information that is personalized to them,” he said. “Everyone has a different situation. We want to be seamless for the member and here for them as they go through a very personal process with a chronic issue. We want to be the accountable person in your life that calls you more than your kids.”
Pack Health’s team is comprised of what Rasulnia calls a very innovative, young, fearless group.
“This is a team effort and the employees that we have and continue to add really advance our mission even more than when we started,” he said.
Jon Nugent, vice president of innovation and technology for the Birmingham Business Alliance, said business startups like Pack Health are important to the vitality of the city’s technology community.
“Helping companies like Pack Health grow in Birmingham is a significant goal for the Birmingham Business Alliance and its partners,” he said. “Pack Health and the Birmingham startups of today are very important to our community’s future and the ability to compete globally for funding and talent. We are fortunate that we have public and private partners in Birmingham that understand that well.”
Currently totaling 8,700 members and onboarding another 20,000 in the next eight months, at the rate it’s growing Pack Health could reach 500 employees.
“We are well on our way to hit big strides,” he said.