Business Columns & Blogs

Boise physician’s startup seeks to help busy women manage a healthy lifestyle

Dan Faricy
Dan Faricy

Most startups fail. Too often, the fault lies with a founder who doesn’t grasp the field or who fails to see from the customer’s perspective.

Heather Hammerstedt, M.D., understands both sides of that coin in health care delivery. That’s why I rank her startup, “Wholist,” among the most promising in Boise.

She earned her medical degree at Temple University. She then completed the Harvard University School of Public Health. In addition to working as a doctor for more than a decade, Dr. Hammerstedt completed yearlong programs in both acupuncture and integrated nutrition. She knows her stuff. But it took sitting on the bench as a pateint – where she waited about 30 minutes before the doctor arrived – to see the all of cracks in the system.

To aid her recovery, Hammerstedt saw a physical therapist, an acupuncturist, a massage therapist and a trainer. Each formed plans for her rehabilitation. The problem was that those professionals didn’t talk to each other. She had no idea whether the treatments worked in conflict or in concert – and she’s a doctor. How could any other patient trust that one treatment wasn’t undoing the good work of another?

Hammerstedt recognized that good health care needs a coordinator. She decided to be the solution and founded Wholist near the end of 2017. She shrewdly identified her customer base: affluent and well-educated women between 30 and 50 seeking to improve health and fitness. Wholist acts as a coach that matches clients’ needs to providers in the Wholist network who have committed to an integrative approach. Wholist then coordinates between providers while checking in on clients with weekly wellness calls to answer questions and offer guidance. Basically, Wholist builds in time for questions and guidance that most doctors don’t offer.

Wholist’s first three-month program, dedicated to weight science and weight wellness, is already underway. Other programs, including those dedicated to fitness, mindfulness and recovery from illness, injury or surgery, are in development. Hammerstedt wants to develop a series of podcasts to bolster the educational aspect for each program.

That’s the tip of the iceberg for Wholist’s plans. The young company has a long way to go, but I’m a fan of its business model and a believer in Hammerstedt’s ability to pull it off.

Dan Faricy is an entrepreneur and general manager of Trailhead, a Boise-based startup incubator and business networking organization.