Function Health Co-founder & COO Pranitha Patil

Function Health

In this Q&A, you’ll hear from Pranitha Patil, co-founder and COO of Function Health, a platform improving healthspan. Pranitha shares how her personal health struggles led to teaming up with Dr. Mark Hyman to create a new standard of preventative care.

Tell us about Function Health.

Pranitha Patil: Function is a health management platform setting a new standard of care that empowers people to live 100 healthy years.

Today, 70% of all medical decisions are based on lab tests, and despite there being hundreds of routine, life-changing diagnostics tests available, an average annual physical only includes <20 biomarkers. This means that people are missing red flags and other potential signs of disease.

So, with Function, we built a modern way to give members a proper understanding of their health so they can take control of it.

Function’s yearly membership includes the full cost of 100+ advanced lab tests—which is, on average, 5x more than typical primary care check-ups—and comprehensively measures all major biological functions: heart, hormones, metabolic, inflammation, kidneys, liver, heavy metals, and more.

Function also provides comprehensive, actionable insights informed by the world’s top doctors, and with a member app that tracks test results over time, members can see how their body is changing. These tools urge members to stay on top of their health and take action between tests, and the personalized insights can also be shared with doctors easily, making each visit more effective.

What costs $499 with Function could cost up to $15K elsewhere. No other company makes this breadth of testing as easy and affordable.

What led you to pursue this opportunity?

PP: Comprehensive testing presents major hurdles today, and I’ve personally succumbed to these many shortcomings during my own health journey. I was diagnosed with PCOS, pre-diabetes, and genetically high cholesterol in my 20s. The road to getting there wasn’t easy, but I was motivated to start a healthier life for myself — I just didn’t know where exactly to begin.

I knew I wasn’t alone. The US health system currently leaves most people visiting primary care doctors on a reactive basis after a problem arises, not before. In addition, comprehensive testing is oftentimes expensive, confusing, and can come too late.

So, alongside my fellow co-founders, Mark Hyman, MD, Jonathan Swerdlin, and Mike Nemke, we engineered a new way for people to stay on top of their health and live their best life. We looked outside the system to leverage the latest in technology, solving for the many complexities in healthcare, and shifting the current reactive landscape of health management to one that’s proactive.

We spent years building Function, changing the standard of care and empowering everyone—including women, minorities, and BIPOC—to take control of their health immediately, easily, and affordably.

A user myself, through Function, I’ve already improved my insulin and A1c, learned about my cholesterol particles and particle numbers (LDL and triglycerides), and I’m actively working on managing stress to lower my cortisol levels.

How did you turn your idea into a company?

PP: Jonathan and I met while I was at Harvard University Graduate School getting a Master of Design Engineering degree. While there, I was focused on creating solutions in the digital health space, and that led to discussing the initial idea of Function, which we soon shared with Mark and Mike.

Mark, Jonathan, Mike, and I turned our idea into a reality by building proprietary technology from the ground up. I worked with Mike to develop the dashboard, leveraging my degrees in business, economics, engineering, and finance, as well as my extensive experience working with global healthcare providers in the US, India, and Africa.

We hired our first employees in May 2022, and since launching in beta in April 2023, Function has become one of the fastest-growing startups in health, changing how people understand and manage their health.

We successfully raised ~$4.5M in pre-seed funding in 2022, with investors including former/current founders and executives from Oura, Seed, Fullscript, Sequoia, Levels, and more.

To date, over 20K people have joined Function, and nearly 100K signed up for our waitlist.

Notably, 65% of Function members are biological females and 35% are biological males, and we know why. While many health-focused startups over-index on the male demographic, Function uniquely appeals to women because it includes testing and clinician insights on thyroid, fertility, hormones, and more — services out of reach for so many.

How big can this get?

PP: The time to take control of your health is now — and proactive health management is something everyone can benefit from. Despite all the medical advances we have today, life expectancy in America is declining and chronic disease is rising.

While other companies are focused on providing access to medical practitioners, at Function, we know that health is created outside the doctor’s office. In addition to helping people who are looking to optimize their health, understand their bodies, and live long healthy lives, we’re also looking to be as accessible as possible, giving millions of people the accessibility to healthcare they deserve.

How do you reach your core customer?

PP: With that accessibility top of mind, Function’s platform was created for people of all backgrounds and health profiles over the age of 18.

We’ve organically grown among a community of people who are curious and have a vested interest in their bodies and longevity. Whether they have existing conditions or are of a younger demographic looking to take control of their health, a person of any demographic can understand their current health, discover how it’s changing, and take immediate action.

Their satisfaction with this paradigm shift drives our customer acquisition, as we’re continuously acquiring new members through word of mouth, social media, and more.

What’s next on the roadmap?

PP: Since launching in beta April 2023, Function members have already completed over one million lab tests, uncovering hidden trends and early indicators of disease.

As promising new diagnostics are developed and become available, we’ll continue to support our members by providing additional testing and insights. The way we see it, the more tests patients complete, the more results and insights they have to monitor their health, take control, and identify early warning signs of disease.

We have some exciting updates currently in the works for 2024, so you’ll have to stay tuned to find out more!

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