Several months into the COVID-19 pandemic, more people are looking into improving their bodies’ defense mechanisms to fight off the threat of the coronavirus, as well as to boost their overall health and enhance their physical and mental well-being. Pravan Health, a robust clinic and wellness center in San Juan, offers a long-term solution for people who are interested in healthier lifestyles, as the company gradually revolutionizes the concept of health care.
Located in the Ciudadela complex in Santurce, Pravan Health is a concierge medicine clinic that centralizes health and wellness in an innovative space for its members to receive personalized services. David Melchor, co-founder & CEO of Pravan, explained to THE WEEKLY JOURNAL that this concept is making patients and medical professionals rethink how health care is done.
Pravan opened in 2017, right before Hurricane Maria, as a response to “the deficiencies in the current health system,” Melchor said. “The current health system is highly segmented, access is not easy, the system is too reactive, people don’t have a preventive focus and so, service isn’t good. When you visit the doctor you don’t get a good experience; you always have to wait, and then that doctor sends you to another doctor but they don’t speak between themselves,” he opined.
As such, Pravan was designed by a team of medical experts, entrepreneurs and local investors to provide a new option that prioritizes access, prevention and service — the three pillars of Pravan Health. With roughly 2,500 square feet in one of Santurce’s most attractive locations, the clinic cost approximately half a million dollars to finance, raised with an initial investment of $2 million to kick-start the project.
The entity soon found success with American investors who relocated to Puerto Rico, incentivized by Acts 20/22 (now Act 60). These patients, marveled by the clinic’s in-person and virtual services, detected Pravan’s potential to grow, so they provided a second wave of capital investment.
“From an investment standpoint, let’s say that Pravan’s capital is initial-hybrid, where there is local capital and there is also capital from Americans who have moved to the island and who have brought money from abroad and invested it in businesses like ours. It went well and we were lucky because it is not easy to raise capital in Puerto Rico for startups. There is a lot of talent, there are a lot of people with good ideas, but it is not easy to raise the capital that is needed to start a business,” Melchor stated.
Since the pandemic began, Pravan has reportedly seen a 35 percent increase in memberships and a 100 percent rise in its website visits, given that citizens are concerned about their physicality and nutrition amid the COVID-19 emergency. “We are seeing that more people are investing in their health with premium, high-quality services like Pravan,” the CEO added.
Innovative Business Model
Pravan requests memberships instead of health insurance, so anybody with the means to pay can have access to quality health care. The membership costs $2,300 a year and can be paid biannually or quarterly, for the equivalent of $190 a month.
Pravan counts on a team of more than 15 medical experts, such as primary care physicians, family medicine physicians, gynecologists, infectious disease specialists, nurses and health coordinators. Other staff includes professionals with expertise in nutrition, sports medicine and therapeutic massages, among others.
Apart from providing these medical benefits, Pravan connects its members with specialized doctors from a variety of fields — a business model known as concierge medicine, or direct primary care. Pravan keeps digital records of its members and refers the latter to lab exams before connecting them with external doctors for follow-ups.
Melchor said that there are an estimated 7,000 clinics with this focus in the U.S. mainland, but Pravan is the first of its kind in Puerto Rico, offering its services both to people who reside near the San Juan area, as well as Ponce, Dorado, Mayagüez. Pravan also has a telemedicine platform that offers 24/7 consulting and prescription services. Because of the pandemic, roughly 70 percent of all member-doctor interactions are conducted virtually.
2021 Expansion Plans
With 2021 on the horizon, Melchor revealed that Pravan is already developing some initiatives to continue expanding and to help vulnerable communities.
One of these is a new app called “Healer Pass,” a courier service that connects patients with doctors and wellness providers, such as acupuncturists, yoga instructors and more. According to Melchor, nearly 200 health and wellness providers will join the platform.
Another goal that they expect to launch early next year is a more affordable membership plan for the island’s youth, such as millennials and Gen-Z, who Melchor observed are very interested in wellness but generally have a lower budget. Along that line, the Pravan Foundation is in development to offer a variety of medical services and orientation to disadvantaged sectors who can’t afford the clinic’s membership.
“We are a purpose-driven organization, we are not a profit-driven organization. Obviously, we want to be profitable, but the most important thing is to be faithful to our purpose and our purpose is to inspire healthy lifestyles, that people can have good health to be able to move forward,” Melchor affirmed.
- A shorter version of this story was published on the Nov. 25, 2020, e-Edition of The Weekly Journal.