What the Hell is Going on With the Tia Clinic?

Founded by two former tech workers and overseen by a single MD, the clinic offers naturopathic consultations (for a fee).

In Depth
What the Hell is Going on With the Tia Clinic?
Photo:Getty/Elena Scotti

A few weeks ago, Jezebel published a story about Tia, a boutique members-only gynecology and wellness practice that recently opened in New York. The company, which is expanding from its origins as a cycle-tracking app to open a network of doctor’s office, offered same-day appointments and personalized follow-ups for members willing to spend $150 a year, along with other perks.

Founded by two former tech workers and overseen by a single MD, the clinic offers naturopathic consultations (for a fee) as well as more routine and insurance-reimbursable services. When Tia launched, its founders positioned it as an antidote to the “shitty healthcare system” in which women aren’t often heard and recommended people with vaginas use the clinic as their central point of contact for all their primary care needs.

Tia’s basic concession is that if you’re willing to pay a bit extra—the price of a Spotify subscription, as its founders often say—you can escape the horrors of the healthcare system and treat yourself to something more luxurious and woman-friendly: same-day appointments, a responsive “care team” that will chat with you whenever you’d like, extended personalized meetings with a knowledgeable person who really cares about the whole, holistic you.

To date, Tia has raised $6 million from investors based on this model, with an accompanying app where women input their daily experiences of sleeplessness and bloat. The company has said it hopes to open 20 additional clinics over the next few years.

But following an aggressive press push and a few weeks of signing up patients, Tia appears to have quietly paused or scaled back some of its operations, overwhelmed by some of the same forces that make the rest of our doctor’s visits so much less inspired.

At the moment, if you are an existing Tia patient and you have a time-sensitive health care concern, the clinic provides a phone number to text and promises you will hear back within 48 hours, at which point you may be referred elsewhere. Tia also told members it has “capped new memberships,” though this information hadn’t been made available to anyone but existing subscribers, and as of Tuesday it was still possible to sign up for the clinic and pay Tia a membership fee to “book appointments as easy as yoga classes.”

On Saturday morning, Tia sent a letter to its members with the subject line “Important update from Tia: slowing down in service of patient care.” The letter, signed by founders Carolyn Witte and Felicity Yost, as well as medical director Stephanie McClellan, said that Tia had “missed the mark” on some of its services, having experienced greater-than-anticipated signup rates and issues with opening their office in a building that was still under construction. In the letter, Tia said it had signed up 300 patients in the last few weeks. (In a previous interview, the company told Jezebel it hoped to see 1,000 patients by the end of the year.)

To resolve problems with slow follow-up rates, unreliable communications channels, and due-paying members being unable to find open appointments, Tia told members it had “capped new memberships” and had stopped seeing new patients for the next two weeks. “We expect to have appointment availability (prioritized for existing members only) in 4-6 weeks,” Tia wrote.

Though Tia’s prolific social media accounts have slowed somewhat, there was no public announcement about Tia’s now-six-week waits, mention of a membership cap, or indication that it would stop taking new patients’ money. Over the weekend, Ricki Lake posed in the Tia office. On Tuesday, a San Francisco-based lifestyle publication ran an interview with the founders and Dr. McClellan focused on the medical possibilities of combining health records with daily self-surveilled data. On Tuesday night, the clinic hosted an event with “millennial motivator” Amber Rae called “all the feels.”

On Tuesday, Jezebel paid a fee to Tia to become a new member. “We’re making some scheduling fixes to expand our appointment availability,” the membership website read. There were no open appointments, but patients were encouraged to check back soon for availability after May.

On Tuesday afternoon, Jezebel asked Tia about the membership cap. (We have not yet heard back, but will update this post if we do.) On Wednesday morning an automated text message apparently sent out to members who had signed up since Saturday referred patients to the same letter about availability, “prioritized for existing members” after four to six weeks. As of Wednesday morning, the website had changed: “To ensure all new members can book an appointment within 14 days of joining, we are releasing new memberships on a rolling basis,” it now reads.

The section of Tia’s website about early morning, evening, and weekend appointments—the one that encouraged members to book a gyno appointment as easily as a yoga class—has also recently disappeared. As it previously read:

At Tia, we’re all about accessible, convenient healthcare — but never at the expense of quality.
This means no multimonth waitlists or phone tag required to get a Pap smear scheduled. Instead, book appointments on your phone that work with your schedule early morning, in the evening & on the weekends. And you can chat with your doctor like you chat with your friends.

(Updated 3/3/22 with new details)

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