Klara Interviews Dr. Linnea Meyer About Direct Primary Care and Wellscape Direct MD
Many thanks to Klara and Sagar Patel for the invitation to discuss direct primary care, Wellscape Direct MD and other trending healthcare topics on their podcast series.
Sagar Patel: “Can you share a little bit about your background, a little about your Wellscape Direct MD practice? Also, tell our audience who you are and how you got into the space that you’re in.”
Dr. Linnea Meyer: “Like many physicians, we went into it because we wanted to help people, and we have this vision of how we could do that. I also had a strong interest in complementary medicine—and Chinese medicine in particular—so I wanted to work on blending those different aspects. I thought the best vehicle would be to be a family doctor, where I could blend all of those things together and reach the most number of patients.
It’s a surprise when you come on the other end and realize so much has turned into [insurance] coding and all these [administrative] things that have really interfered with that relationship between patient and physician.”
Sagar Patel: “Where do you think the future of healthcare is going and where do you think it should go?”
Dr. Linnea Meyer: “Part of the reason I thought direct primary care was such a great idea is that I really thought it did appeal across party lines. There are reasons why folks who lean right appreciate it, and there are reasons why folks who lean left appreciate it—and everybody in between. And what a great common ground. What a great starting point for folks to look at this as a model to see, then, what could we build around this to satisfy the larger picture of everybody’s healthcare needs.”
Sagar Patel: “What is direct primary care?”
Dr. Linnea Meyer: “Essentially, direct primary care is a membership model. We tell folks to think of it like a membership to your gym. The idea is to be a more reasonable cost than what a lot of people think of as ‘concierge.’
The goal here is to make it a reasonable cost and also to opt not to bill insurers. That way, we’re really trying to minimize any impact third parties might have on that direct relationship between patient and physician—and hence the name ‘direct primary care.’
Each primary care office is different….It’s really that individualized, independent, primary care, local practice that serves a community. For many of them, that is their primary goal—to serve their community the best way they can. Again, because we’ve opted out of these insurance contracts, the relationship is primarily between patient and physician. We’re making decisions based on what’s right for that individual, and you get to know them as individuals—so you can provide top-quality care on an individualized basis. That’s the premise of what direct primary care is.”
Sagar Patel: “For a start-up, step one is just educating the market on who we are and what we do—and then removing the fear of the unknown. It’s always easier to not want to change. It sounds like this is a simpler analogy of the challenges you face in the DPC model.”
Dr. Linnea Meyer: “Exactly. Folks are very well trained, right now, that they use their insurance card for everything. What are they really getting for that insurance card—and how much are you paying for that? What’s the value you’re getting from that? Most folks have a high deductible these days. You’re really paying out of pocket until you reach that deductible.”
Sagar Patel: “You’re spot on. That’s exactly the problem. There’s an educational process even on the insurance side. People may not understand that accepting insurance, and what’s actually covered under your insurance policy are two whole different things.”
Dr. Linnea Meyer: “That’s right. Not to mention, when is the last time you were able to text message your doctor at 3:00 in the afternoon, because you had a cut or burn and you were wondering what you should do about it? Then actually send them a little video, ‘This is what’s going on….’ That doesn’t happen in the traditional practice as it stands now. That kind of access to your primary care is a big part of what we offer. That’s part of developing that relationship with somebody—who knows you and who you know.”
Sagar Patel: “Where do you see communication moving towards? Is it always going to stay phone/email? Do you think text messaging is a valuable offering?”
Dr. Linnea Meyer: “Yes. Most of my interactions come through secure text. I do have some folks who prefer email. That’s the predominant way we interact with folks in our daily, non-medical lives—that’s what patients want to do with their doctor as well.”
Sagar Patel: “Is there anything else you want to share with us?”
Dr. Linnea Meyer: “The last thing is that even though it’s such a tumultuous time right now in healthcare, no matter what aspect you’re in, I just want to say that, from my perspective, it’s still just such a privilege to be someone’s doctor. To have that trust you feel they invest in you. To build that relationship. To get to know them as people. To have them confide in you these intimate details—and see how all that impacts their health and what changes we can help guide them toward. It’s really such an amazing profession. I just love partnering with patients. I still love that aspect.
At times when I may get discouraged, I have a visit with a patient and I think, ‘Yes, this is what it’s all about.’
I have to say that my patients are hugely supportive of me doing this and appreciate what it is that we’re trying to do here.
That’s what I rest my hope on for the future. If we can just really invest in people again, rather than the ‘big mess’ we’ve kind of made of the whole healthcare system—I hope we’ll get back to that as the important part.”