Neel Ghoshal was 13 years old when his life changed.
Neel was born in 1978 to Sam and Pritha Ghoshal, who emigrated from India eight years earlier to pursue the American dream. He grew up in the Northeast.
There were moments of struggle, but life was good in the New York area where his father worked at the World Trade Center.
In November 1991, Ghoshal’s mother returned to India to visit her father. He never made it home.
Ghoshal said her mother had been treated for a kidney problem, but a disconnect between doctors and lack of access to healthcare led to a misdiagnosis. For reasons unknown to him, the family and Indian doctors did not contact medical professionals in the US. He died a few weeks later in 1992.
Ghoshal remembers being angry at the systems that were designed to protect people like her mother.
He said he had no reason to pass. He did this due to lack of access.
Although he has worked in several fields during his professional career, Ghoshals’ desire to help fill gaps in the healthcare system has always stayed with him. That and the family connection to the restaurant industry guide his new company, Healthpitality.
Her mother’s memory is directly tied to the why behind Healthpitality, Ghoshal said. Many American citizens, including the majority of restaurant workers, struggle to access affordable health care. For those with traditional health care, long wait times and expensive fees can make it difficult to see a primary care doctor regularly.
Launching in January, Healthpitality is marketed as a membership-based alternative to traditional health insurance. It will rely heavily on telehealth services to treat the many more than 50 percent hospitality workers who do not receive health insurance from the restaurant or hotel that employs them. At Healthpitality, Ghoshal wants to create an environment where members of the hospitality industry are partners in their care and treated with the same VIP treatment they offer their guests night after night.
Restaurant workers can become Healthpitality members individually, but Ghoshal sees restaurants making membership an employee benefit. A monthly subscription costs employers $38 to $55 per month per employee, plus a $250 initiation fee, and includes unlimited telehealth visits.
Restaurants are billed monthly per employee, which means restaurants don’t have to pay the bill for a person who leaves staff, Ghoshal said. On the other hand, employees are not abandoned when they change jobs.
Subscriptions for individual employees who purchase their own Healthpitality package are $65 per month. Hospitality workers who wish to enroll separately are asked to provide proof of employment, such as a recent paycheck.
Ghoshal, who moved to Charleston in 2018, describes Healthpitality as a virtual-first healthcare provider. Her experience in telehealth includes consulting for Doxy.me, a telemedicine company that began as a tool for healthcare providers to provide prenatal care to women who would normally have to travel long distances for checkups and weigh-ins. .
While Ghoshal understands the benefits of telehealth, he also understands that it cannot cover all healthcare needs. It’s simply not possible to do all kinds of visits remotely, so Healthpitality members still need to make an appointment for imaging tests, blood tests, and other visits that require personal interaction.
The personal visits recommended by the doctors and nurses employed by Terveyspitality incur their own expenses either for the restaurant or the employee.
Our service providers are adept at utilizing telehealth best practices to serve our members. However, when needed, they are also adept at identifying situations where personal care is necessary and refer members to outside providers accordingly, Ghoshal said.
Telemedicine has been more widely adopted since the pandemic, said Dr. Marty Player, director of primary health telemedicine at the Medical University of South Carolina. It has been particularly effective in treating mental health disorders, Player said.
Limitations of telemedicine include the inability to perform tests and exams that must be done in person. South Carolina law also prohibits doctors from prescribing certain controlled drugs without personal treatment with the patient.
Early research before the pandemic suggested that telemedicine provided more access to people who already had access to health care, Player said. Developments in the field suggest that moving forward, telemedicine could increase access to more vulnerable populations, he said.
Access to primary care is still limited in this country in general, Player said. I think the telehealth option is useful.
Healthpitality currently has six employees and plans to add three doctors and six to nine nurse practitioners by the January launch in South Carolina and Florida. The primary focus is initially on acute care. As Healthpitality sees demand grow, the plan is to expand services to include primary care and preventive medicine, said Ghoshal, whose brother is a certified master chef by the American Culinary Federation.
The ultimate goal is to create a comprehensive health and wellness ecosystem where members can manage most of their health needs. They do this by working with the Healthpitality concierge team, who are trained to understand the realities of working in the hospitality industry.
Their in-depth understanding of the unique challenges hospitality customers face ensures that every interaction is not only helpful, but also empathetic and tailored, Ghoshal said.
Ambitious future goals include health centers, units that bring healthcare services directly to members for seasonal needs, such as flu vaccinations and physical examinations. Ghoshal said the overall goal is to make healthcare accessible and convenient for all Healthpitality members.
For more information, visit visithealthpitality.life.
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