It may be said that turning away from obsession with COVID-19 news to examine the professional shift in the life of integrative medicine leader Myles Spar, MD, MPH is a hard pivot. The Venice Family Clinic provider of integrative services to the underserved – and Bravewell Award winner for that work – recently moved from Los Angeles to New York to take a position as chief medical officer at Vault Health. The business is a start-up funded recently with an infusion of $30-million. Spar’s more recent re-positioning of his professional focus toward men’s health narrows the gap between the worlds. The specialty of Vault Health is male sexual vitality, around which Spar’s responsibilities include developing some integrative support. The hard pivot may be characterized as from service to the underserved to services for the under erect.
Despite is shifting professional work in recent years, Spar has maintained his commitment to the underserved. He is a member of the advisory board for Integrative Medicine for the Underserved and leads a separate project to link volunteerism of integrative practitioners to individuals who couldn’t otherwise afford the care. Meantime, he has made powerful steps in his transition to a men’s health practice. He started an L.A. based performance-focused men’s health clinic. He co-edited the Integrative Men’s Health volume in the Dr. Weil series and authored the 2020 Optimal Men’s Health. The National Basketball Association put him on retainer to provide a wellness and STD education mandated by all teams. He was creating groundwork for significant change.
Vault Health, the men’s heath start-up, came knocking. They’d seen his TEDx video and some of his other work. The company has first tier venture capital cred. The CEO is former chief innovation officer at Amazon. Another key leader was formerly chief operations officer at Blue Apron, the meal delivery firm. The $30-million was wired in through the Tiger Capital group.
When I asked Spar about the decision to join Vault Health, he said it was easy: “The idea of taking my vision of men’s health to scale was very attractive. They told me that they would handle everything that I don’t want to do – and would have to do if I grew my own business. I wouldn’t have to learn social media and never need to know what SEO means.” The anticipated Vault Health salary plus equity already had a destination: “I’ve got 2 kids to send to college.”
Still, the first click-over from IM4US to Vault Health is a surprise. The cut-line is “Perform Better.” The first image is of a shirtless middle-aged male. The pitch is for “a new type of personalized care – for men and their manhood.” Scroll down and one sees their basic pitch:
VAULT IS THE FIRST COMPANY PROVIDING TESTOSTERONE TREATMENTS AND SPECIALIZED HEALTHCARE FOR MEN AT HOME.
VAULT TREATMENTS ARE DESIGNED TO GIVE MEN A STRONGER SEX DRIVE, BETTER RESULTS AT THE GYM, AND IMPROVED MENTAL CLARITY.
The value of Spar’s background in integrative medicine is clear in a few places on the site. He has formulated products that are part of four packages that Vault Health sells as monthly programs: Sex Kit, Brain Kit, Body Kit, and Immunity Kit. He speaks of his pleasure working with Oregon-based Compounded Nutrients on developing the products. Vault Health distinguishes itself with its network of medical doctors, physicians assistants and nurse practitioners who provide personalized consults up-front as the central part of the plan.
With tongue only partly in cheek, Spar notes that he is moving from one population underserved by integrative medicine (the less resourced) to another (men). “Prevention and wellness are not motivating reasons for men. Men are less likely to eat well, be active, to not smoke. We know that they are much less likely to use integrative medicine. Men are winning at premature mortality. The way to get men to health is to harness their power and purpose …” Sexuality, fitness and sex drive are such purposes for many.
We spoke for a minute about how the Whole Health program in the Veterans Administration is based in helping Vets access their reasons to live. Said Spar: “A man might not respond to me educating him that eating hotdogs closes arteries. But if you share that the smallest of those arteries is the penile artery that may function better on fewer hot dogs, then you are getting some place. You need to find out what matters to them and how to get them closer to that goal.”
I told Spar that a friend to whom I’d shared his transition had e-mailed me this query: “Regarding your interview with the testosterone guy. So, I wonder, besides sex later in life, what will be the consequences of releasing more testosterone into the world?” Spar responded:
Actually less chronic disease and improved life expectancy for men. Low T that is untreated is associated with higher risk for diabetes, heart disease and metabolic syndrome. One in 4 men over 30 have low T and the majority are not treated.
The program is just gearing up, with its first 500 patients. They are doing business in 11 states with pre-COVID-19 plans to be in all 50 by the end of April. And this is after a soft launch in the fall. It was fully up and running on March 12. I am sure that many of his colleagues are wishing him tremendous success – a successful buy out or going public in a half-dozen years? – with an eye on hitting him up for support for not-for-profit integrative causes for the other underserved, once he’s got all that tuition handled. Good luck, Myles!