Big Ideas That Might Change The World: “A Virtual Live Wellness Program” With Jillian Bridgette Cohen of Virtual Health Partners

Fotis Georgiadis
Jun 11, 2020 · 10 min read

Now more than ever being able to provide a fully customized and personalized virtual solution is imperative. Our virtual, live wellness program creates a sense of community using an approach that incorporates small virtual group support led by nutritionists, health coaches, psychologists and social workers, to make clients feel less alone and also to keep them on track with their health goals while working with health experts in person is not an option in our new post COVID-19 world.

As a part of my series about “Big Ideas That Might Change The World In The Next Few Years” I had the pleasure of interviewing Jillian Bridgette Cohen.

Jillian is the CEO & Co-founder of Virtual Health Partners, Inc. In May 2015, Jillian launched VHP with the goal of creating an ecosphere of wellness support available anywhere and anytime. With over 15 years of experience in the medical industry, Jillian was responsible for the multi-million-dollar growth of three start-up companies, with a strong focus in the non-invasive weight loss space. Starting her career at Johnson & Johnson, then moving to Novare, ElectroCore and Apollo, Jillian specialized in development, implementation, growth, and marketing for new medical procedures. Jillian received her Bachelor of Science from Rutgers University Business School.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

When I first graduated college I went into corporate finance. I was in AT&T’s Financial Leadership Program. I quickly learned that corporate finance was not my passion and by luck ended up in the field of Medical Device Sales. My first medical sales job was with Johnson & Johnson as a Territory Assistant. Within 6 months, I was promoted to manage my own territory and then shortly thereafter, I was invited to join the Management Development Program. I tremendously enjoyed being in surgeries and seeing less-invasive surgical procedures in the OR start to take off. I spent a lot of time observing gastric bypass, open heart, spine, and orthopedic surgeries, along with the treatment of diabetic and pressure wounds. Many of the patients I saw were overweight or obese, and witnessing firsthand the link between obesity and these major health issues strongly influenced my career path.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

In my mind the most amazing or interesting story that has happened since beginning VHP is the moment when I was looking at an updated org chart, and in black and white saw the amazing team that has been assembled to work together at VHP. Many members of our team have been in my life for well over a decade. To see their passion for VHP is a gift that keeps on giving. It is also key to the great success VHP continues to have.

Which principles or philosophies have guided your life? Your career?

I believe the key to success is having a great team. Surround yourself with people who you can trust, who motivate you and lift you up and who you genuinely enjoy being around — both personally and professionally.

Ok. Let’s now move to the main focus of our interview. Can you tell us about your “Big Idea That Might Change The World”?

Virtual Health Partners (VHP) is redefining virtual healthcare offering by providing condition-specific live support for nutrition, lifestyle and fitness support. Offered exclusively through our network of partners including insurers and self-insured companies, hospital systems, and health product companies including fitness clubs, VHP’s Business-to Business-to-Consumer (B2B2C) model provides a SaaS and PaaS solution that fully customizable and scalable. Through the privacy compliant, HIPAA compliant platform, VHP provides its partners with a turnkey solution for clients in the areas of weight loss and weight loss procedures, metabolic syndrome, oncology, women’s health, digestive diseases, cardiac rehab, preventive medicine, plastic surgery and general wellness

The company is now on the forefront of virtual care and uniquely positioned to address the rising demand and challenges that Americans and people across the globe face during and post the coronavirus pandemic, as social distancing is not just going to go away quickly.

Now more than ever being able to provide a fully customized and personalized virtual solution is imperative. Our virtual, live wellness program creates a sense of community using an approach that incorporates small virtual group support led by nutritionists, health coaches, psychologists and social workers, to make clients feel less alone and also to keep them on track with their health goals while working with health experts in person is not an option in our new post COVID-19 world.

How do you think this will change the world?

While many companies are rushing to build interactive online experiences from scratch, something that is both expensive and time consuming, VHP Business Partners benefit from a turnkey, built and proven platform, that is also fully customizable. The VHP team brings a breadth of knowledge that delivers immediate connections and meaningful experiences.

Even after the COVID-19 threat has diminished, it’s unlikely that fitness centers and physician’s offices will be able to operate at full capacity for some time — if ever again.

With gym and medical office closures nation-wide, patients can find the content they need to stay on track pre or post surgery on the VHP platform. VHP provides personalized tools which guide patients to eat a healthier, more nutritious diet, while helping manage specific conditions and their symptoms. VHP also provides fitness and lifestyle content to support healthy behaviors, ideal for someone post-op.

VHP helps physicians provide after-care support to patients who are not able to make it into the office and also gives gyms a way to extend services to members who feel safer working out from home or who just can’t fit into the likely now limited class capacity. It truly is the way of the future for many healthcare and fitness providers to connect with and support patients/members in this new world.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this idea? Can you tell us that story?

I spent many years in medical device sales and business development with a focus in the weight loss procedure space. One device that I helped to launch was revolutionary as you did not need surgery to be able to suture. It was used to help tighten up the stomach of patients who had regained weight after weight loss surgery. Between watching the downfall of the lap band and seeing the need for this procedure, the void in the marketplace and the need for a turnkey solution became apparent to me. Weight loss procedures require a lot of follow-up. What became apparent to me is that you can give patients a single tool, like a surgical procedure or a “tightening”, but they really need a full toolbox to succeed. This toolbox needed to go beyond what patients experienced in the office and be accessible throughout their day-to-day lives. Patients needed a combination of nutrition, lifestyle modification, and fitness support all in one place, accessible on-the-go, at hours that fit their schedule.

I shared my idea with VHP’s co-founder and successful bariatric surgeon, Dr. Shawn Garber. He saw the need too and Virtual Health Partners was born. What I didn’t realize at the start, was that this tool we had built would receive so much interest from people outside of the traditional weight loss industry, that we pivoted early on to become a multi-condition focused platform, delivering the same live virtual nutrition, lifestyle and fitness services across all verticals, utilizing the backend software to provide a customized and personalized experience for the patient. A few short but busy years later, VHP now has partnerships in eight different verticals including fitness, oncology, fertility, aesthetics, cosmetic surgery, GI, orthopedics, and weight loss.

What do you need to lead this idea to widespread adoption?

We have currently supported over 300,000 users and growing. Now more than ever during COVID-19 the ability to support all age groups in helping them deal with managing stress, healthy eating with limited food sources and ways to stay fit at home is a whole new level of accomplishment. We have been passionate about supporting the Medicare population since our inception, making sure the interface was easy to use for all ages. We have developed specific programming to help combat nutrition and loneliness issues, along with being able to bring a sense of community virtually to those alone. Being able to support this population, along with cancer patients, Crohn’s disease sufferers, metabolic syndrome disease, cardiac rehab and many more areas critical to one’s health through this worldwide pandemic, feels like our biggest accomplishment yet; however, I am sure there are many more to come.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Balance is key — I wish I learned earlier in life the importance of taking more time away from work and focusing on family. Having lost my dad in September of 2017, I am constantly reflecting on how I was always running out of his office, when I would stop by for a quick hello to get to a work meeting or how I was too busy flying out for work on a Sunday night to make it to his house to watch the Giants game. Time is precious, having fun and working hard are important, but you only get one dad — make time for EVERYTHING!
  2. Everyone is busy — no matter what their role — remember that. It is ok to not work every single weekend, people will understand and also appreciate that you are a person. The new COVID-19 longer work day and work weekend, plus my 1 year old beautiful little girl, make this even more important. I have found myself working even more hours and full days on the weekend during COVID-19. I specifically now block my calendar for quality Cooper Lexi time every morning, every evening and on the weekends. I also have found a new balance for me time, which has led to me using VHP’s fitness content to get early morning workouts in, in our BATHROOM. I know it sounds crazy but I do cardio kickboxing, Chaise band workouts, pilates, lower and upper body workouts all from the privacy of our bathroom.
  3. Email efficiency — do not spend time sending extra emails such as “got this,”
    “received,” “working on it,” or sending multiple “thank yous” back and forth. Now more than ever with COVID-19 and the lack of interpersonal interactions emails are just piling up. There is need to create more efficiencies and processes. Your team knows you appreciate their work. Send one email each day thanking them for their efforts instead of after each single item.
  4. Multi-task — there is an art to it as you do not want people to think that you are rude. Make sure you are listening and repeat what they have shared with you to ensure they know you are listening.
  5. Vacation. It is a must to take vacations. I definitely do work while on vacation, but I also enjoy myself and have fun. It also sets a good example for the rest of your team, as it is important for everyone to take time to distress and decompress.

Can you share with our readers what you think are the most important “success habits” or “success mindsets”?

  1. Always jump in. You do not always like what you have to do but do not put it off for tomorrow, because it will still be there tomorrow. For example, contracts and red-lining. It takes hours of my day, but if I do not do it we do not get finalized contracts and customers.
  2. Constant improvement. The platform, managing people and the business can all always be improved. Feedback is like a gift from your grandmother. You do not always like it, take it, store it and use it as it best fits for you.
  3. Stress management. Sleep is important. If you are that worried or stressed that you are not sleeping, you need to find a way to to manage the stress. I used to read my emails even when trying to fall asleep. I now make my to do list before I head to get ready for bed and from that point forward, I do not read work email until I wake up. I also read something that is totally fun, non-political or stressful.

Some very well known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)

Insurance companies, health systems, self-insured and health product companies have all recognized the importance of nutrition, lifestyle support and fitness to create better outcomes, as costs of care continue to rise and chronic disease increases.

How do these organizations deliver these services cost effectively to hundreds of millions of people while creating better outcomes?

VHP’S SaaS platform is the solution. What sets VHP apart is the ability to use software to service millions of people across these verticals in a cost effective manner for our partners and their customers, through a subscription model.

VHP provides live virtual nutrition, lifestyle and fitness support via our platform. The platform is highly customizable with the ability to support multiple diseases and conditions, provides live touch points, along with having robust data collection on the backend. VHP’s solution reduces costs for these organizations, improves outcomes and gives them the ability to assess live data in a streamlined approach. Now more than ever a virtual approach is needed in our post COVID-19 world.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/virtualhealthpartners/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/VHPGO

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/virtualhealthpartners/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/11001324/

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film…

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

Fotis Georgiadis

Written by

Passionate about bringing emerging technologies to the market

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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