Joyful Health

Max Berger

In Spring 2023, I joined the founding team at Joyful Health to lay the groundwork for
design language and design & scope the first iteration of Joyful’s digital product(s).

Running a private practice today is more difficult than ever. Rapidly expanding technology requirements, increasing regulation, inflation, declining reimbursement rates from both commercial and public insurers, and rising consumer standards have led to rapid consolidation (largely by private equity funds and health systems). This is directly at odds with physician independence.

Joyful’s mission is to bring the joy back to providing care by enabling physicians to practice on their own terms. Initially, we focused on addressing the pain points of health and wellness providers.

Research thesis

Joyful’s team is made of software builders - product designers, managers, and engineers - and it’s easy to want to jump in and start building. However, healthcare is complex and requires a deep understanding of the broader ecosystem with consideration for many stakeholders. Thus, we take a research-driven approach.

Research round 1: how to support health and wellness clinicians

For the first few months, we focused on health and wellness providers (e.g. therapists, nutritionists, health coaches).

Market: digital-first, little regulation

-> Easy to launch. These clinicians operate digitally, so it is less capitally and operationally intensive to build a practice. It is also easier to get credentials (e.g. health coaches require 0-6 months of training vs. 10+ years for physicians), and these care modalities are less regulated, especially when clinicians operate on a cash pay model (e.g. don’t interface with insurers).
-> Higher rates of private practice. There are high rates of private practice and very little consolidation - many therapists and nutritionists operate as true solo-preneurs.
-> Potential for an extensible solution. There is a lot of overlap in the JTBD across health and wellness specialities, so a solution for therapists could look similar to one for nutritionists, coaches, physical therapists, acupuncturists, etc.
-> Rapidly growing market. This market is growing rapidly, as consumer demand for this type of care is increasing.

We conducted research for several weeks, speaking to dozens of clinicians about their operations, practices, and pain points.

Research findings and design insights

Lack of streamlined tech solutions forces clinicians to stitch together several different tools, which is time-consuming and difficult without tech background. E.g. a clinician using Slack to build community, Venmo to bill clients, Patreon to deliver courses/memberships, and LinkTree as a “front door”.

→ How can we streamline the way clinicians set up these customer-facing processes? Clinicians can benefit from an individualized, white-glove set-up service as well as a customizable digital platform - a future tool should capitalize on both the inefficient design of existing solutions and the inherently personalized needs of each provider.

Existing EHR/practice management software is inefficient for modern-day care - they lack in functionality for the modern healthcare provider, are unintuitive, and add extra time due to poor UX.

→ Where can we remove extra time & unnecessary steps in the practice set-up (e.g. billing, insurance) and management processes? This led us to a design audit on existing solutions and conversations with clinicians on their pain-points with current solutions and processes to identify specific areas of inefficiency.

Hypotheses and Testing


Launching a health and wellness practice requires multidisciplinary skills (e.g., business, legal, tech) and fragmented software implementation. While it can be painful, there is a big appetite to do so.




Launch a dozen H+W practices: establish a digital presence, onboard them and their clients onto our MVP portal


What we were looking to learn

Can we help H+W providers launch their practices? Is there a willingness to pay? Is this there a path to a scalable solution?


New-age health and wellness practices are adding new revenue streams to grow their practices. This is challenging for many providers for similar reasons that they find starting a practice difficult — at the end of the day they trained to deliver care, not run a business.



Launch a handful of new revenue streams like groups, communities, workshops using our own tech and integrating with/recommending existing solutions


What we were looking to learn

Can we help H+W providers grow their practices? Is there a willingness to pay? How big is the market for this? Are clinicians able to manage new revenue streams in addition to delivering their regular care?


Building off our hypotheses, we launched a series of solutions for clinicians to test.

We built a comprehensive service for health and wellness coaches to launch digital practices.
We armed them with a website + scheduling capabilities and a portal to manage clients, sessions, and purchases
(for coaches who sell coursework or group sessions) and message clients.

Practice Management Portal

Client list for clinicians to manage client information and caseload
HIPAA-compliant SMS messenger for clinicians to contact patients
Ability for care recipients to purchase and manage sessions
Portal for care recipients to manage upcoming sessions (mobile view!)

In further iterations, we built a community management tool for coaches to build supportive,
engaging communities of their clients and those who participated in their webinars or group sessions

Community platform, enabling clinicians and selected members to post text, resources, images, and URLs and engage with each other (anonymity optional!)
Community platform (mobile)
Throughout the launch of this beta platform with several coaches and their practices, we learned key takeaways that are informing our future direction:

There’s low willingness to pay from clinicians starting out.
Health and wellness providers are excited about a solution that will help them launch and manage the business side of their practice, but there’s a low willingness to pay. Many providers start out part-time, so there’s a low urgency to get good systems in place and they can’t justify using much more than free tools.

High switching costs.
For those that have more established practices, convincing them to switch off legacy software (e.g. Simple Practice, Jane App) is challenging, even if they aren’t happy with it.

Adding new revenue streams is nice-to-have.
Providers are excited about the prospect of adding new revenue streams (like group sessions and courses) but doing so often falls to the back burner. Clinicians face similar struggles when starting a new revenue stream as they do when starting the business because they lack  business, legal, and technical expertise; this is especially important for “creator-centric” offerings such as courses and monetized content.

Crowded space.
Although there is no one-stop-shop for clinicians to start and grow their businesses, there is a lot of activity in the space in the form of individual tools (e.g. billing optimization, AI scheduling + note-taking). This makes the psychology of switching tools particularly difficult for clinicians and difficult for us to reach conviction we can capture a reasonably sized chunk of this market.

What’s next?

We’re shifting our ICP focus away from health and wellness clinicians towards brick-and-mortar, private-practice physicians. Through running a pilot with a cohort of health coaches and nutritionists, we concluded there is a lower willingness to pay than we originally anticipated; at the same time, it became clear that there is a huge opportunity to enable physician-owned practices to retain their autonomy. We’re grateful that we learned a ton about this market and tested (& disproved) many of our hypotheses without writing much code or over-investing in any particular solution.

Stay tuned!

Website & Branding

Our landing page. Does it feel Joyful?
Logo treatments

Max Berger