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Parasail Health Case Study: Launching a healthcare fin-tech startup

client: Parasail Health Inc.

Parasail - Pregnancy Commercial
Role: Creative Director/Exec Producer
Agency: Vector is Love


Creating a brand that wants to help you with medical bills

When I was approached to lead marketing, brand and product user experience for Parasail, I'll admit at first it sounded kind of boring. Payment plans for medical bills? Could there be a duller sentence in the world? And then I dug into it. Here in the healthcare space there was no trusted brand like a Disney (where a parent will let their child view a movie they've never seen because they trust the brand so much) or a Nike (where fans know no matter what product they buy it will stand up to rigorous workouts) or even Amazon (where even if you don't have an emotional attachment to the brand, you can rely on it to deliver things on time at a fair price).


There is no trusted brand in healthcare. People may love their doctor or hospital – but no insurance company, payment vendor or lending platform is perceived as caring about the patient at all. This is where Parasail would thrive.


So how do you make healthcare's first trusted brand? You empathize with the patient of course. We conducted qualitative interviews with patients of all kinds, copiously taking notes of their journeys, setbacks, frustrations and eventual resolution (for the lucky ones who got there). We corroborated key patient pain-points with general population customer surveys ranking the frustrations of the business side of healthcare – and profiling these pain-points by age, sex, household income, insurance status, credit score and numerous other identifiers to deeply understand which, of the many frustrations, would drive the highest engagement with the broadest audience were we to solve it first. We defined different user cohorts and created user journey maps that informed which touchpoints we could interact with the patient most effectively. 

Then, using Agile sprint methodology, we launched the MVP of our first payment product in less than a month. It was ugly, but gave us valuable user insights, which we rolled into weekly assessments and optimizations, building an application whose completion rate eventually topped 90% completion after start (in an industry where application abandonment averages about 40%). Simultaneously we created brand, messaging and marketing tools mapped to each stage of the customer journey, from online research about a procedure to in-office check-in desk, to on-the-bill messaging to follow-up phone call scripts for practice administrators.

While this was going on we also crafted a vision of Parasail in 10 years, and mapped out an ideal product roadmap, feature priority and go-to-market strategy which we boiled down into an optimized investor pitch deck. The focus, traction and clear strategy helped Parasail raise over $18MM in seed funding and get lending capital commitments of over $400MM.

After these initial wins, we built new payment products, launched into enterprise verticals with full funnel B2B CRM systems supporting an enterprise sales team. We produced new lead generation tools that estimated procedure costs and emailed them directly from the doctors office to the patient with a breakdown of what a monthly payment plan would be. We redesigned how medical bills work to create more transparency and include payment options – in a way where people could understand what they owed and why. We created SEO-optimized content helping patients understand their insurance and payments white papers that helped hospital administrators understand why they couldn't collect more from their patients. Our PR placements were featured in prestigious healthcare trades and our lending volume continued to expand. 

In 12 months – from no customers &  product to:


• 5 app-based payment products generating $66MM in loan applications

• 3000+ providers on its payment platform

• Over 40k unique monthly visitors

• Featured in all key hospital trade publications

• $18MM in seed investment

• Over $400MM in lending capital commitments

Case Study

The process: How to build products and launch a startup

Step 1: Consumer Insights, User Journey Maps & Touchpoint Opportunities

Topline User Journey Maps -
Where is our Opportunity?

Patients were frustrated with every part of health care billing – but the research revealed a key moment (which we called "The Oh-Shit Moment" when patients realized how much they would have to pay out of pocket. 

This was the moment when our product and message was most relevant...

So we designed the UX around it.

General Population Survey - 96% Accuracy

With all the problems in health care we could address we needed to know which would give us the most traction for our payment plan products... So I wrote and launched a survey to inform our product strategy and roadmap priorities.

8 User Profiles Created the Vision of Parasail's​ Product Roadmap

Expanding into more detail on the specific use cases and unmet needs for patients, I collaborated with our VPs of Engineering and Partnerships and CEO to map out our DTC product vision.

Defining the Technology Stack

Working with our VP Engineering, we crafted a clear plan for our technology and products for both patients as well as providers.

Simplified Product Roadmap

To align internal stakeholders, employees, investors, board members and potential enterprise partners, I simplified the Roadmap as part of an overall brand vision presentation.

Brand Architecture

Wait isn't brand architecture a waste of time for an Agile development startup? Not if you want every product user experience to build your brand. Here's how each product would roll up to our mission and vision:

Investor Pitch Decks

Iterating over time – and for each VCs needs – we turned the vision, roadmap, opportunity and brand into a sales tool to get more investment... but it was also a great tool to align the company on the vision.

Step 2: Wireframe and Build Product 1 & Website - Create Brand

Sitemap and Funnel - MVP

Because the product would have a "pull" aspect for some lead generation, we would need to create a baseline MVP website with messaging to drive users through a simple funnel to the loan application (Product 1)

Evolved Site Map - Evolved Wireframes to Live Site

Over the 12 months since Product 1's MVP launch, the website, based on a simplified wireframe with linear content hierarchy, evolved into the current site that now branches users into 1 of 6 different payment products seemlessly.

Product 1 (Loan Application) - Wireframes

Gating criteria for Product 1 had been developed by the team before I joined but it was my job – partnering with the VP Engineering – to turn it into an actual MVP, get user feedback and iterate it quickly into a consumer-facing payment app that would be used by enterprise partners (doctors offices and hospital systems).

Product 1 MVP Build – And Agile Optimization

We built the MVP of Product 1 (loan application) in 5 weeks. Throughout the next 3 months we conducted weekly sprints optimizing the user flow until less than 10% of applicants abandoned the application once it was started. Then I spun up the marketing team to create the patient touchpoints.

Parasail Select (Product 1) - Explainer videos for patients and providers:

Developed to pitch providers and hospitals (first video) and to be placed on websites and in waiting rooms for patients (second video) the dissemination of the simple value proposition was critical in early uptake of users.

Parasail Select - For Providers

Role: Writer/Creative Director/Exec Producer

Production: Vector is Love

Parasail Select - For Patients (How it Works)

Role: Writer/Creative Director/Exec Producer

Production: Vector is Love

Step 3: Build and Launch Product 2

User Empathy Journey Map

For Product 2 (technically it was our 4th product, but the next major one) I wanted to ground our user flow in the mind-state of the patient at each step of the journey... where would they be frustrated – where impatient. Where willing to engage? This user journey maps both the physical flow of the user as well as their state of mind at each stage...

Product 2 (ProPatient 0% Payment Plans) MVP, Launch, Optimization

With the world's first 0% APR payment plan spanning more than 1 year for patients, it was important that users entering from a trusted hospital or doctor got positive feedback throughout the (pretty complicated) approval process to keep going.

Step 4: ProPatient Go-to-Market Launch, Enterprise Sales & Growth Marketing

B2B Enterprise Sales - Marketing Automation & Sales Enablement

Working with the Head of Sales, our team set up the enterprise sales funnel, lead scoring and marketing automation in Hubspot integrated with our own in-house built campaign landing pages. With automated self-serve opt-ins for white papers, sellsheets, fact sheets and demo requests our sales team of 2 was able to onboard over 3000 enterprise clients to the payment platforms in 12 months.

Lead Generation via an Admin Estimator (& Invitation) Tool

With practices and hospitals our most important source of end consumers, we shifted product strategy to provide admin tools that made the lives of front office and billing staff easier. With a simple intake tool, they could see a patients insurance eligibility (saving them a phone call), and how much they'd have to pay out of pocket... then they could send the estimate to the patient with payment plan options...

Rethinking Medical Bills as a Point of Sale

Patients are most likely to need a payment plan when they get a bill in the mail... so we'd already made sure to get a CTA on our partners' bills. The only problem was that patients didn't pay the bills because they were too confusing. So we prototyped a new medical bill to use with hospitals who wanted to try it. So far the response has been great from patients and billing departments.

Brand Style Guide

In order to scale and stay on brand we expanded on the core brand guide created by our agency partner into a fully usable style guide which could be used by all freelancers, agencies, partners and affiliates to expand the Parasail brand across media

SEO & Content Marketing

We'd started building SEO with both patient and provider targeted keywords and long-tail phrases for about 8 months before we started our performance marketing efforts. Within 18 months 40% of unique visitors to Parasail were from organic earned media, reducing our lead generation costs over time dramatically

Growth Marketing - DTC

We conducted DTC channel tests using Adwords, YouTube and Facebook campaigns to optimize targeting, messaging, ad creative and CPC. With a small marketing investment our cost-per-acquisition dramatically in just a few months of weekly agile sprints

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