Co-Founder Shares Vision Behind Meeko Health’s Psychedelic Therapy Benefits for Employers

Amil Patel is the co-founder and CEO of Meeko Health, a mental health employee benefits platform that launched in 2023, which combines ketamine with professional therapy to create personalized treatment plans. Previously, he was VP/Head of Pharmacy at Alto Pharmacy in San Francisco.

Patel recently shared some of the opportunities and challenges of launching a psychedelics-related employee benefits programs, the process of building a national network of approved clinics, and his personal experiences that inspired the vision for his work.


How did you and your co-founder (Nick Nowak) come up with the idea for Meeko Health?

The concept started after some personal challenges I faced after becoming a father. Starting a family was big inflection point for me. I had three kids, and it brought up a lot of memories and pain from my own experience of growing up. It was overwhelming. I wasn’t in a great place. I tried various medications, but they weren’t coming in for me. I learned that 67% of the population has at least one “Adverse Childhood Experience”, and so I wasn’t alone in what I was feeling — so I started to reach out for help. A close friend recommended I try MDMA therapy. So I did it. I remember during the very first session I saw everything through a new lens. I had this deep understanding, and it changed everything I thought I knew about myself. It was incredible. Afterward, I made a commitment to myself to learn more about what this therapy can do for others — and to see if there’s an opportunity to get more people to experience what I had just experienced. So I shared all this with my longtime friend and fellow pharmacist, Nick, and we immediately started poking around for opportunities and ultimately came up with the idea for Meeko.

So what is Meeko Health and what do you offer employers and employees?

We’re essentially a psychedelic benefits manager. So, if you’re an employer who wants to offer psychedelic therapy to your employees, we’re a single solution that covers the entire process end-to-end. We ensure that employees have the right education and information about the types of care available to them, we’ve established high-quality care protocols within our network of clinics, and we do everything possible to deliver the best outcomes for individuals. When an employee wants to use their psychedelic therapy benefit, we handle every step of the process — from prep work and post-therapy integration, to the transportation that gets them to and from their ketamine-infusion treatments. We also track outcomes, we follow up with them during their integration and make sure they’re being looked after and cared for. We want to ensure you’re getting the most out of your experience.

How’s business going so far — getting clients, building your provider network — and what are the biggest challenges you’re facing?

We currently have about 40 clinics nationwide in our network, and we’re vetting about 450 more. We want to maintain a very high standard of care, so our vetting process is extremely comprehensive. As far as clients go, we signed our first employer in January and three more since then.

One of the big challenges is how we communicate the value we’re delivering to potential employer clients. There’s still a lot of stigma around psychedelic medicine, so we are learning how to best respond to the objections that come up. But more and more people understand the power these medicines can have. Often the biggest objection is cost. Why use a service like Meeko when ketamine can be delivered to your house and you can do whatever therapy you want to do online? We explain that we deeply believe that the in-clinic model of care is the right model. We believe in creating a meaningful container of prep work and integration through which people can have efficacious outcomes. And ultimately those positive outcomes will directly translate up to employers.

When you pitch your services to employers, do you focus on measurable results like employee productivity, creativity, engagement, etc.?

Those are the table stakes, yes. However, what really moves the needle are the testimonials. When you hear a very personal story about how ketamine therapy changed someone’s life, it is far more powerful than looking at stats like improvements in productivity or absenteeism. Sure, we talk about how these treatments can reduce an employer’s overall medical spend by 30% or whatever, but this whole industry is still early in understanding the ROI of positive mental health. But at the end of the day we think the humanistic approach is far more meaningful in this ecosystem.

Right now you’re focused on in-person ketamine-assisted therapy. Do you plan to expand into MDMA therapy when and if the FDA approves it? And if so, what additional challenges will you face making it part of your benefit program?

Yes, 100%. We plan on adding MDMA therapy once it’s approved, and for that matter, any psychedelic entity that gets approval in the future. We see them as additional pathways for an employee to consider if that’s what is the best option for them.

I think the biggest challenge with MDMA will be the initial shortage of trained therapists. There’s no clarity that I’ve seen yet around which training in particular is going to be approved. There’s a lot that we don’t know, which makes it tough for our business plan. But we’ll get guidance from the REMS program, from the FDA, from Lykos, and then we’ll find a way to add this therapy to our offering. To me, the biggest elephant in the room is that we have to make sure our country’s heroes and veterans get access to PTSD care as a priority. There is a strong ethical argument to let veterans with PTSD get the care that they need first — and then solve for all the bottleneck issues and figure out how to scale for the broader marketplace.

Based on your very positive personal experience with MDMA therapy, will being able to offer that at Meeko Health represent the culmination of your original vision of your work?

Actually, it’s less about MDMA and more about unlocking the perception people have about their mental health. Whether an employer can one day offer Comp360 psilocybin, or whether they can right now fly employees to Oregon for natural psilocybin services, I think it’s about treating people as human beings and respecting their agency to access the treatment they need. Doesn’t matter if it’s ketamine, MDMA, whatever it takes that has been granted a stamp of safety and efficacy. This is what drives me: Allowing as many people as possible to access safe, supportive psychedelic therapies so they can go through their own process of self-inquiry and deepen their understanding of themselves. To say, “There’s nothing wrong with you. You’re going through a thing right now. You’re feeling something, and that feeling wants to be explored.” We want to give people the opportunity to explore it. That’s what keeps me going.