Small Business

Dr. Paul Thomas of Plum Health Featured on Sound Financial Bites

This week, we were featured on Sound Financial Bites. The topic was wide ranging, and it was great to be featured on this podcast. The producers of Sound Financial Bites, Paul Adams and Cory Shepherd, wrote a fantastic summary of our conversation, here:


This episode of the Sound Financial Bites Podcast tackles a topic that is central to our financial and physical wellbeing: healthcare. Paul Adams and Cory Shepherd welcome primary care physician Dr. Paul Thomas to discuss his practice, Plum Health, and the innovative strides he is making in the healthcare industry. Dr. Paul’s mission is to make healthcare accessible to those who cannot afford it and those who are fed up with the time, energy and money spent on traditional methods.


  • 01:24 – Introducing today’s guest, Dr. Paul Thomas

  • 02:38 – Dr. Paul defines the term direct primary care

  • 03:18 – Concierge medicine

  • 04:59 – How Dr. Paul’s business model makes money

  • 06:39 – The huge markup on healthcare services

  • 09:49 – The amount of patients a typical primary care physician has

  • 11:26 – The pricing model that Dr. Paul utilizes

  • 13:32 – Dr. Paul talks about the incredible growth of his practice, Plum Health

  • 15:53 – Dr. Paul’s vision for the next five years of his practice

  • 19:25 – Cosmetic surgery and Lasik

  • 20:43 – Paul interrupts the podcast to provide the audience with a special offer

  • 21:52 – The distinction between health insurance and healthcare

  • 22:42 – Making healthcare accessible to those who cannot afford it

  • 24:49 – The high-income earning patients that Dr. Paul also serves

  • 26:28 – How Dr. Paul’s practice remains profitable

  • 29:45 – The value of primary care  

  • 34:04 – The convenience factor

  • 34:36 – Paul invites the audience to submit questions for Dr. Paul that he will answer in the next episode he joins

  • 35:58 – Cory thanks Dr. Paul for joining Sound Financial Bites


“I really want to make healthcare affordable and accessible for everyone. And, for me, that looks like removing those middle men that inflate the cost of care and delivering primary care services directly to my patients.”

“If you use your insurance to buy healthcare services it’s gonna increase those prices because you increase the middle man. You increase the people who are handling your money between you and your doctor.”

“I’m routinely spending thirty minutes to one hour with each of my patients who come through my door.”

“That’s what it’s all about. We’re about bringing healthcare to a community that has been underserved.”

“One of the biggest problems we have as a country is that ninety percent of the medicine that’s paid for in our country is paid for by somebody who is not the patient.”

“Health insurance is not healthcare. Healthcare, delivered by a primary care physician who actually cares about you, is excellent healthcare.”

“If you make greater than sixteen thousand dollars, you are disqualified from Medicaid services.”


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Dr. Paul Thomas Book - Direct Primary Care: The Cure for Our Broken Healthcare System

Thinking about Direct Primary Care, if you’re able to integrate our service with the right insurance product, there could be tremendous savings for you, your family, or your business. In short, part of my job is to protect you from insurance companies, big lab companies, and hospital systems that will overcharge you for your routine primary care services.

Thanks for reading and listening, and have a great day,

-Dr. Paul Thomas with Plum Health DPC

Here’s the promo image from Sound Financial Bites for the podcast on Healthcare vs Health Insurance featuring Dr. Paul Thomas of Plum Health DPC.

Here’s the promo image from Sound Financial Bites for the podcast on Healthcare vs Health Insurance featuring Dr. Paul Thomas of Plum Health DPC.

Top Rated Family Doctor in Detroit

Top Rated Family Doctor in Detroit

This week, we received a nice email and letter from a company called “Top Rated” and they related that we were a Top Rated Family Doctor in Detroit. This review company, called Top Rated, accumulated all of our positive reviews online and published them on their website:

This review company, called Top Rated, accumulated all of our positive reviews online and published them on their website.

This review company, called Top Rated, accumulated all of our positive reviews online and published them on their website.

In fact, because of our high number of reviews, we were in the top 10 in this category, coming in at number 4:

Plum Health DPC is a Top Rated Family Doctor and Primary Care office in Detroit, based on the above review site.

Plum Health DPC is a Top Rated Family Doctor and Primary Care office in Detroit, based on the above review site.

Reflecting on this, I’m proud to provide an excellent service to our members at Plum Health and to the greater community. We really focus on going above and beyond for our patients, listening fully to their concerns, and doing whatever we can to guide them to better health and wellness. We are pleased that our reviews online reflect this ethos.

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day,

-Dr. Paul Thomas with Plum Health DPC

Last month, we were up to 49 Five Star reviews on Google, which is a great feeling. It validates the work that we do - people come away from our practice knowing that service is valuable and wanting to share that knowledge with other people.

Last month, we were up to 49 Five Star reviews on Google, which is a great feeling. It validates the work that we do - people come away from our practice knowing that service is valuable and wanting to share that knowledge with other people.

This week, we crossed a threshold and received 50 Five Star reviews on Google!

This week, we crossed a threshold and received 50 Five Star reviews on Google!

Plum Health featured in Excelerate America's Tenacity Tales

2018.12.27 Tenacity Tales Plum Health DPC Excelerate America.png

This week we were featured in Excelerate America’s Tenacity Tales! Here’s what they said about us:

Imagine being able to access your doctor anytime by phone, text or email. And knowing that you can get in to see him or her that very day, or within 24 hours at the longest.

Well Dr. Paul Thomas and Plum Health DPC is making this revolutionary possibility a reality for hundreds of Metro Detroit, Michigan-based patients.

The concept is specifically called Direct Primary Care. It's a completely new healthcare movement, one that's so different than the system most people are used to that Dr. Paul was compelled to write a book about it.

He's also constantly invited to speak about it at large conferences and galas, and was even invited to the White House earlier this month as a guest of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.

Read more about Dr. Paul's incredible entrepreneurial journey in an all-new healthcare space.

What’s the obstacle that you’ve overcome that you’re most proud of?

This has been a big year!


Publishing the book, "Direct Primary Care: The Cure for Our Broken Healthcare System", has been a big accomplishment for me.

It was not difficult to write the book, but having the intentionality to move the book from a completed word document on my desktop computer to a physical product that you can buy on Amazon has been challenging, with several small obstacles to overcome week by week and month by month.

I guess it's a good metaphor for being in business—It's not hard to have a great idea, but it is difficult to have the consistency, grit, and intentionality to advance that idea every day and every week towards your stated goals. 

Additionally, I'm proud of signing a lease to grow into a larger space. Our practice has grown from zero patients two years ago to over 425 patients today, so we will need a larger office to accommodate the diverse needs of our patients.

The process of signing a lease, designing an office space, and working with several different professionals to get the job done has been challenging. 

What do you know now that you wish you’d known then?

Experience is the greatest teacher, and I've made several mistakes along the way.

My biggest mistake by far has been undervaluing my time and talents. I recently finished reading "Entrepreneurial You" by Dorie Clark and it talks about having the courage to charge for your services, including during speaking engagements.

I'm glad to have asked for payments for past speaking gigs, and I need to be better at valuing my time and talents with future consulting gigs and speaking engagements. 

What’s your best advice to other small business owners?

If you're waiting for the perfect time to start, that moment when you feel ready, you'll never start. 

One quote to reinforce this is from Hugh Laurie, the actor who played “House MD”. His nugget of wisdom is as follows: “It’s a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you’re ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There is almost no such thing as ready. There is only now. And you may as well do it now. Generally speaking, now is as good a time as any." 

Fortunately I had a really compelling reason to start my business, otherwise I may still be dragging my feet about the perfect time to launch. Anyways, a community member signed up online, before I was ready to start. He called me on a Tuesday saying "I just took my last antidepressant, so I need you to be my doctor now." That day, I ordered $100-worth of medications, including the antidepressant that he needed. The next day, I received the medications and made the house call to his rental. 

All I had was my doctor's bag, my stethoscope, a blood pressure cuff, oximeter, my laptop, and the medications he needed, but I was able to meet a previously unmet need at an affordable price for this person.

So, my advice is to stop waiting and do the thing. Done is better than perfect. 

What’s a typical day like for you?

I typically wake up and go for a run to get my mind and my body ready for the day. Then I make coffee and have breakfast.

2018 Paul Thomas MD Detroit Young Professionals Vanguard Award.jpg

Most days, I work in the office 9am - 5pm, sometimes 8am to 6pm or later depending on what needs to be done for which patients. A lot of my patients are working class folks, so they will need appointments outside of their typical eight hour shift and I do my best to accommodate them and deliver an excellent level of service.

I typically see 5-10 patients each day, and use my downtime to write blog posts, work on big projects, follow up on lab results or imaging results, order more medications, and leverage my social media channels to reach more customers.

For a solo entrepreneur, I catch myself spending too much time working on the minutia of the business rather than setting big goals for the business, i.e. working in the business rather than working on the business. Anyways, I'm looking forward to scaling up and adding another doctor so that I can focus more time on the big goals.

What’s next for Plum Health DPC? 

Great segue  (can we use bad jokes?).

I've mentioned before, but I just signed a lease for a 1,700 square foot space because we're reaching capacity in our small, one room office and I'm looking to grow both in space and in personnel.

My mission is to serve more of the Detroit community and Southeast Michigan with affordable and accessible health care services, so I am leveraging the tools I have available to meet these needs.

Look out for big things in 2019 from Plum Health DPC! 

Plum Health at Crain's Detroit Homecoming 

Last week we attended Detroit homecoming at the Lexus velodrome sponsored by Crain’s Detroit. It was an event that brought together small business owners in Detroit and members of the Detroit expat community.

First of all, the Lexus velodrome is a really cool and exciting venue! It is a four lane track and there were cyclists racing at certain points of the event which was cool to see. In the middle of the track was a spectator spot with a bar and meeting areas for the small business owners, journalists, and members of the expat community to enjoy. Around the track there was booths for small businesses to set up and that is where we has the opportunity to interact with each other and the expats.

For me it was great to see the Detroit expats getting excited about small business and the growing entrepreneurial community in the city and it was nice to have some of them lend their expertise, knowledge, and insights during the event

The evening programming/after party was held at the Corner where they had a live band and an opportunity to get onto the historic Tiger’s stadium surface and hit some dingers!

In closing this was another fantastic event and a sign of the momentum in the Detroit entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day,

-Dr. Paul Thomas with Plum Health DPC

Dr. Paul Thomas, MD of Plum Health DPC at the Crain’s Detroit Homecoming Event at the Lexus Velodrome in Detroit, Michigan.

Dr. Paul Thomas, MD of Plum Health DPC at the Crain’s Detroit Homecoming Event at the Lexus Velodrome in Detroit, Michigan.

Plum Health Wins Detroit Demo Day 2018

Last night, Plum Health DPC won the Detroit Demo Day 2018 prize for $50,000 in the "Start" category! This was an amazing experience from start to finish - the level of professionalism on the Demo Day team is unrivaled. 

It was an honor to even be selected for the pitch competition, but then to have a team of professionals help me hone the pitch, and a team of people create such an amazing event to showcase small businesses in Detroit was truly incredible. Thank you to these folks at Quicken and at the Music Hall!

I was blown away by the amount of people who came out to support entrepreneurship in Detroit, the Music Hall auditorium was packed with cheering family members, friends, business associates, investors and enthusiasts - this is truly a special moment in Detroit for entrepreneurs and small business owners. 

Additionally, I have so much love for all of the presenters and Detroit entrepreneurs who stood tall and pitched their unique businesses, whether or not they walked away with prize money. They are all worthy of your support as they've worked tirelessly to even get onto this stage - House of Pure Vin,  Michigan Farm to Freezer, Rebel Nell, Accelerate Kid, Building Hugger, Cynt-Sational Popcorn, Detroit Denim, Tait Design, The Ten Nail Bar, Bloomscape, Lush Yummies, Reilly Craft Creamery, Fangage, and Yum Village. 

Now that we've won, we plan on growing into a larger space, hiring another doctor, and serving more people in our community. This is just the beginning. 

Here's our winning pitch (time 1:11:23):

And here's the announcement for the $50,000 prize (time 2:13:20):

If you're ready to start your journey to better health with Plum Health, you can enroll online here, or call 313.444.5630.

Thanks so much for reading, and have a wonderful day! 

- Dr. Paul Thomas, MD with Plum Health DPC, delivering affordable, accessible health care in Detroit and beyond. 

Screenshot from Quicken Loans Detroit Demo Day video - winners from the "Start" category including Justin Mast of Bloomscape with a $75,000 prize, Paul Thomas MD of Plum Health DPC with a $50,000 prize, James Chapman (host), Jennifer Lyle of Lush Yummies Pie Co with the $25,000 People's Choice Award and the $100,000 prize, Ron Bartell of Kuzzo's Chicken and Waffles and former Detroit Lion (judge), and Janelle Bechdol of The Hall Pass Tour (host). Judges not pictured here are Anne Sempowski Ward a Detroit native and CEO of CURiO brands and Charles Adler the Co-founder of Kickstarter.

Screenshot from Quicken Loans Detroit Demo Day video - winners from the "Start" category including Justin Mast of Bloomscape with a $75,000 prize, Paul Thomas MD of Plum Health DPC with a $50,000 prize, James Chapman (host), Jennifer Lyle of Lush Yummies Pie Co with the $25,000 People's Choice Award and the $100,000 prize, Ron Bartell of Kuzzo's Chicken and Waffles and former Detroit Lion (judge), and Janelle Bechdol of The Hall Pass Tour (host). Judges not pictured here are Anne Sempowski Ward a Detroit native and CEO of CURiO brands and Charles Adler the Co-founder of Kickstarter.

Further reading: Crain's Detroit Business has written an article about the event, here. The Detroit News has written an article about the event, here.

Above are photos from my friend and fellow Detroit Entrepreneur Fares Ksebati and below is a video from my friend and entrepreneur, Andrew Koper. Fares and Andrew, thank you for capturing these moments of the pitch and thanks for being there!

Detroit Businesses are Humming in the Motor City, via

This week, released a video in collaboration with Fiverr. It featured Detroit businesses, including Shinola, Excelerate America, and Plum Health DPC! They had this to say about the video:

Detroit's entrepreneurial scene is exploding with companies who are growing for good. Which is why this rejuvenating city was the perfect stop on our Doers Across America tour. The energy, vibrancy, and warmth was always present when meeting the incredible Detroit entrepreneurial community. There was so much to celebrate and learn from these resilient doers, and by the end of our time there, it was clear why Detroit is the embodiment of the “comeback kid.” 

You can find the full video, here, or in the YouTube link below:

Yes! Detroit's entrepreneurial scene is thriving and I was happy to be a part of this feature! The crew did a marvelous job filming and editing this piece on a tight time schedule - they brought a high degree of professionalism and the video is informative and interesting.

It's an exciting time to be an entrepreneur in Detroit - there is indeed a ton of energy, excitement and attention paid to this community of growing businesses. However, I would like to acknowledge all of those that make up the Detroit small business ecosystem that weren't featured in this video. I know that I would not be successful were it not for the thriving scene that I have immersed myself in. 

I'm hinting at a greater point here, which is best illustrated in an article by Ron Fournier, published in Crain's Detroit Business from October 2017: "Amid Detroit's post-bankruptcy resurgence, the money and attention heaped upon startups in downtown and Midtown threatens to overshadow long-running businesses in Detroit's neighborhoods. That startups are often run by young, white Detroit transplants arriving at the crest of an economic wave and "been-ups" are often owned by minorities who struggled through the worst of times feeds a "two-Detroits" narrative."

So, to all of those 'start-ups' and 'been-ups' in the community, thank you! Let's keep working together to make Detroit beautiful and prosperous!

- Dr. Paul Thomas with Plum Health DPC

One of the screen shots from the and Fiverr video featuring Plum Health DPC

One of the screen shots from the and Fiverr video featuring Plum Health DPC

Another still shot from the Fiverr and collaboration video!

Another still shot from the Fiverr and collaboration video!

These Mobile Businesses are Changing the Game in Detroit

Running a successful business is tough. Running a successful mobile business can be even more difficult! This week, I participated in a panel discussion that took a deep dive into what it takes to run a successful mobile business in Detroit.

The panel was a part of Build Institute's Open City series, and featured four business owners: Lisa Waud of Pot and Box, Alleah Webb of Drifter Coffee, Ebony Rutherford of Trish's Garage, and Paul Thomas, MD (that's me!) of Plum Health DPC. The panel was expertly moderated by Sarah Donnelly of TechTown Detroit

Build Institute's Open City Panel, featuring Ebony Rutherford, Alleah Webb, Paul Thomas MD, and Lisa Waud. The panel was moderated by Sarah Donnelly. The event was hosted by Build Institute's Christianne Malone.

Build Institute's Open City Panel, featuring Ebony Rutherford, Alleah Webb, Paul Thomas MD, and Lisa Waud. The panel was moderated by Sarah Donnelly. The event was hosted by Build Institute's Christianne Malone.

2017 Build Institute Ebony.png

Ebony Rutherford of Trish's Garage talked about the choosing the right events to attend, citing that it's easy to lose money by purchasing table space at a poorly attended event. However, turning lemons into lemonade, she would take that time at a slower event to work on her social media production and marketing.

Alleah Webb of Drifter Coffee has built a successful business around an Instagram-able/Pinterest-able mobile coffee house. Her business is among the most unique in Detroit, creating a mobile coffee experience for her audience.

2017 Build Institute Alleah.png

Alleah often participates in public events, like Noel Night, Open Streets Detroit, and MoPop Detroit, and she has also found success by catering to private events, like weddings. This all makes for an interesting story, and Drifter Coffee has gotten some great traditional media exposure, as in this Hour Detroit article

Lisa Waud of Pot and Box also created a ton of buzz from not only having a mobile flower shop, but also by creating The Flower House Detroit. In the panel, she talked about the pros and cons of operating out of a truck that can have adverse effects on their inventory. For example, when it's 90 degrees outside, the flowers can wilt in less than 3 hours if they are in the truck

2017 Build Institute Lisa Waud.png

As a business person conscious of profit and loss, she is considering the costs and benefits of continuing the flower truck operation. It's expensive to have insurance for a mobile business and it takes a lot of energy and staffing costs to operate successfully. 

Build Institute's Open City Detroit event, held at the  Atwater Brewery , 237 Joseph Campau Ave, Detroit, MI.

Build Institute's Open City Detroit event, held at the Atwater Brewery, 237 Joseph Campau Ave, Detroit, MI.

This was an important point in the conversation! Is a pop-up business/mobile business the end goal or a means to an end? Sometimes, a mobile or pop-up business can lead to a permanent brick-and-mortar establishment. On the other hand, some entrepreneurs prefer the mobile/pop-up business model as it can greatly reduce overhead costs. 

For me, having a mobile offering in the first few months of our operation of Plum Health allowed us to operate with a low overhead while building momentum. The goal was to engage enough customers to justify leasing out an office space. Once we had enough momentum, we were able to lease out our office and build from there. 

At Plum Health, we still offer house calls to our members, but now there is an added cost to these house calls, whereas house calls were standard in the first 2 months of operation. 

All in all, this was a great panel, and I learned a great deal from my fellow panelists and from the moderator, Sarah Donnelly. To the folks at Build Institute, thanks for the invite! And I'm looking forward to the next season of Open City!

- Dr. Paul Thomas with Plum Health DPC

Hatch Detroit 2017 Application

Today, we submitted our application for Hatch Detroit 2017. Our company is called Plum Health DPC and we deliver affordable, accessible healthcare services in Detroit. We offer street level, neighborhood-based medicine in a city with very few primary care medical resources. There are roughly 50 - 100 primary care doctors in a city of 683,000 people, or roughly 1 doctor for every 6,000 - 12,000 Detroit residents.

This lack of access to primary care has a net negative effect on the city. Medical problems go untreated, worsening the burden of disease in the city for all maladies from diabetes, to high blood pressure, and cancer. Residents who cannot get in to see Detroit-based doctors must drive to the suburbs for services, causing inconvenience and costing the city in terms of tax revenue.

The Hatch Detroit 2017 grant is an opportunity for $50,000 in cash, along with support services ranging from legal to accounting, and beyond. With this $50,000, we would be able to hire a second doctor as soon as possible. This has an immediate benefit for the community in that we can get another doctor in Detroit to provide holistic and comprehensive primary care services. 

We believe that primary care services are invaluable for a community, especially in a City like Detroit. The type and amount of value that we give to the community will exceed the initial investment from this grant competition, should we be so fortunate as to be considered for the prize.

In effect, this $50,000 yields immediate impact. First, the Detroit community gets a desperately-needed primary care doctor in a street-level, community-facing medical practice. More screening tests are ordered, more colon, lung, prostate and breast cancer cases are caught early. More diabetic and hypertensive patients have their blood sugar and blood pressures controlled, resulting in lower heart attack and stroke rates in the years ahead.

I know it's not super sexy! But it is vital for a functioning city and truly revitalized neighborhoods. In keeping with the Mayor's vision of 20 minute neighborhoods, having a neighborhood family medicine doctor can only serve to strengthen Detroit's neighborhoods and the future of Detroit in general.

Thank you for reading and for watching,

Dr. Paul Thomas with Plum Health in Detroit, Michigan 

Detroit Startup Week 2017

Detroit Startup Week 2017 will begin on Monday May 22nd!!! It's going to be a great week of stories, panels, and information sessions about starting businesses, large and small. It will also provide entrepreneurs with an opportunity to network and learn from eachother. 

This year, I was selected to give a presentation about starting a business in one of Detroit's neighborhoods, Southwest Detroit. I'll be sharing some of my experiences and I hope you can come out to the session, the link is here.

From their press release: "Startup businesses of every type and stage are invited to over 100 completely free events that are designed to support startup growth and build a stronger business ecosystem in Detroit."

In the session, I will be talking about how we started Plum Health, some of the mistakes that we've made, some of the experiences that we've had, and some of the support systems in Detroit that has allowed us to be successful.

If you're contemplating starting a neighborhood professional service in the City of Detroit or elsewhere, I hope that my session will be extremely helpful for you.

Thanks so much for reading, and I look forward to seeing you at the Masonic Temple next week!

- Dr. Paul Thomas with Plum Health Direct Primary Care

My Thoughts on The Dip

Today, I finished reading "The Dip" by Seth Godin. In the book he talks about when to stick with a project and when to quit. I picked up this book for a few different reasons. First, it was recommended to me by a colleague in my small business community. Second, I felt instinctively that I was facing a decision point in my business, and I needed an external voice to validate what I've been feeling over the past few weeks.

"The Dip" is a relatively short book, and a key takeaway can be found in the section subtitled "Never Quit". Mr. Godin urges his readers to quit, which may be surprising at first. But his main point is this: "Never quit something with great long-term potential just because you can't deal with the stress of the moment". 

Starting a Direct Primary Care practice in Detroit has been one of the most difficult challenges that I've faced in my young career. With undergraduate study, MCAT preparation, medical school, and residency training, there is a great deal of certainty. The equation for success in these regimented environments is simple: study hard, get good grades, perform well on exams and you will succeed. There is a comfort in these structured environments, because I knew that if I studied for "x" amount of hours, I would earn "y" result.  

But with business and running a Direct Primary Care clinic, there is a great deal of uncertainty and a less direct relationship between effort and reward. For example, if I put too much effort into one marketing channel (Facebook or YouTube) and not enough into another marketing channel (email or in-person events), then I may not attract as many new clients. There is no specific formula for success. 

Even though there isn't as much of a direct relationship between effort and reward, I know that Direct Primary Care has excellent long-term potential. I truly believe that it delvers better health care at a lower cost, and that demand for this healthcare delivery model will grow, perhaps even exponentially as economic forces in the broader economy change.

That doesn't change the fact that there is a lot of stress in the current moment! The uncertainty about growth, next steps for the company, and broader adoption in the marketplace cause me a good deal of stress, and I was looking for something that spoke to these aspects of my business. Reading "The Dip" was like having an excellent pep-talk from a personal business coach. 

Intuitively, I can sense that I am in a dip, as described in the book by Seth Godin, and reading his book validated my feelings on my business at this point in time. It also gave some pragmatic wisdom with which I can rededicate myself to my business. After 6 months of operation, I can start to analyze what's working and what's not working. As Godin writes, "The opposite of quitting is an invigorated new strategy designed to break the problem apart". 

He goes on to describe a challenge I'm currently facing: acquiring more customers in the marketplace. He urges his readers to focus on the broader market rather than the individuals. I.e. don't call one lead 10 times, which he sums up nicely here in this passage, "If you try to influence one person, persistence has its limits". It's difficult to change the mind of an individual, and you want to avoid pestering people. 

But, the market is different than individual people. One line that struck me regarding this subject was his assertion that "most of the people in the market have never even heard of you". And this may be a good thing! He relates the story of Sergei Brin of Google and how it was better if customers found out about Google later on rather than right now. This gave Google more time to iterate and improve the product, which would then create better customer experience.

For now, I will continue to focus on improving my services and clinic flow, because I know that as each day passes, the experience of my customers improves. I will also be rededicating myself to email marketing, as I've let this slide over the past few weeks, so check your inbox!

Thanks for reading about the struggles of starting a Direct Primary Care practice. I'm looking to include some of these writings in a future project, so if some of the blog posts here seem random, know that they're adding up to something bigger in the future!

- Dr. Paul Thomas with Plum Health DPC

Steady Growth in the First Quarter of 2017

Plum Health DPC is a Direct Primary Care practice in Detroit, Michigan. It is the only authentic Direct Primary Care practice in Detroit and Wayne County, and one of two authentic DPC practices in the State of Michigan. 

When I started chasing the dream of Direct Primary Care in early/mid 2016, I wondered if this would be possible and/or sustainable. Could I really hope to spend an hour with each of my patients? Could I really operate a medical practice outside of the insurance-based system? Could I really be successful?

When I started making house calls in November and December, I experienced slow growth. I added only 10 people in those first two months. Part of the issue, in my mind, is that it's hard to visualize what I'm trying to accomplish. Unlimited visits? Wholesale medications? At-cost labs? It all seemed amorphous to those listening to my pitch.

Once I leased an office space (December 15th, 2016), the "idea" became more real for the people interested in signing up. Once inside the Plum Health DPC office, you can see the medications, the blood draw equipment, the scale, the otoscope/ophthalmoscope set, and the other accoutrements that make a doctor's office feel like a doctor's office.

Since that time and over the course of the last 3 months, we've experienced steady growth. My goal was to add about 20 new members each month, with a minimum of 15 and a maximum of 30 new members each month. 

So far, we are on pace, meeting those targets each month. As our membership base has grown, I've noticed more of a "snowball" effect, where current members are beginning to refer friends and family to the practice! This has helped us remain sustainable.

Further, only 2 members have cancelled over the period of 5 months! Both instances were similar - young 20-somethings who signed up because they needed some help with an immediate issue. After a few months of membership, they were able to garner health insurance through an employer or another source, and couldn't justify both expenses because of a limited budget. 

Finally, I am so grateful to the people who have given this Direct Primary Care practice model a shot - a huge thank you to our current patients/members who sustain the practice, leave us positive reviews, and spread the word to their family/friends/co-workers!


- Dr. Paul with Plum Health


Plum Health Featured in Crain's Detroit

This week, Plum Health DPC was featured in Crain's Detroit Business. The opportunity came up after meeting with Mark S. Lee on his program, Small Talk with Mark S. Lee. During the on-air interview, we only had 15 minutes to talk about Plum Health and Direct Primary Care. It simply was not enough time to get down into the nuances of what Direct Primary Care is, the mission of Plum Health, and the future of health care and health care policy in this country.

This follow up interview in Crain's Detroit allowed for a deeper dive into these nuances, and so I must thank Mark S. Lee and the Crain's Detroit editorial team for working with me and publishing this important piece. You can read the full article here.

I truly believe that Direct Primary Care will play a greater role in our health care ecosystem as people/health care consumers wake up to the actual cost of their medical care. By making health care prices transparent at Plum Health DPC, we allow people to use free market principles to purchase the health care that they need. 

Thanks so much for reading, thanks again to Mark and Crain's Detroit, and thank you the readers, followers, patients, and supporters that make Plum Health DPC possible!

- Dr. Paul with Plum Health

Plum Health DPC Featured in The HUB Detroit

This week, we were featured in an article by The HUB Detroit, a local publication that focuses on Detroit neighborhoods. From their mission statement, they emphatically state: "our focus is Detroit’s neighborhoods. TheHUB’s multimedia platforms were created to give Detroit city residents and supporters a dedicated voice and space to discuss the real issues surrounding viable city neighborhoods."

I am happy to be working in the neighborhoods in the City of Detroit, serving folks of diverse backgrounds via my clinic in Southwest Detroit. The article touched on this point by relating that I am embracing the neighborhood where I practice medicine. It's true - I spend a lot of time reaching out to folks in the community like small business organizations, small business owners, and non-profit groups like the Ford Resource and Engagement Center. 

Our goal is to improve the health and wellness of not only individuals, but also the community and we achieve this by delivering affordable, accessible healthcare in our community.

I really appreciate the time that the editorial staff took to share the Plum Health story, and I'm excited for what the future holds for health in our City and our region.

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day,

- Dr. Paul with Plum Health 

Plum Health at Build Institute

This week, I was invited to sit on a panel at the Build Institute to celebrate their 5th year of investing in and uplifting small businesses in the City of Detroit. Fortunately, I was able to take and graduate from a Build Institute course over the summer of 2016.

This Build Institute Course allowed me to develop and solidify my business plan, make connections with fellow entrepreneurs, and tap into Build's ever-expanding network of small business owners and service providers. Through Build, I was able to be a part of big events like Detroit Homecoming sponsored by Crain's Detroit. I was also able to meet future customers and future service providers like my lawyer. 

On Wednesday, I was invited to sit on a panel of small business owners who have benefitted from the Build Institute's unique programming. It featured Lana Rodriguez of Mama Coo's Boutique, April Anderson of Good Cakes and Bakes, April Boyle of Build Institute, and Christianne Malone of Build Institute. 

After the panel, Steve Garagiola of Local 4 News (WDIV) asked if I'd be interested in an interview. I invited him to my office at 1759 West 21st Street, Detroit MI, and he came over with his cameraman. During the interview, we discussed the basics of what we provide at Plum Health DPC. 

I was surprised at how fast the turn around time was for the interview, as it aired during the 6 pm news on Detroit's Local 4 News. In case you missed it, here's the interview!

In addition, Kurt Nagl, a writer from Crain's Detroit wrote an article about the event and it appeared on their website on Tuesday. 

Thanks so much for reading and watching!

- Dr. Paul with Plum Health DPC

Plum Health on Small Talk with Mark S Lee

This week, I was invited onto Small Talk with Mark S. Lee! I first met Mr. Lee at the Motor City Match Round 6 showcase in our building, 1759 West 21st Street, Detroit, MI, when then Vice President Joe Biden came to town. I recognized Mr. Lee as he is a frequent contributor to Crain's Detroit Business and a thought leader on small business growth in Detroit.

This month, he invited me onto his radio program, which airs on CBS Detroit, AM 1270 at 8:00 am every Sunday morning. 

Not only is Small Talk broadcasted in the local market, Mr. Lee has faithful listeners from across the country as Small Talk is broadcasted nationally through CBS Radio's online and digital platforms. Some of these listeners write in to the show to express their gratitude as Mr. Lee covers small businesses, small business owners, and discusses a wide range of issues pertaining to starting and running a business in Detroit. He even has some listeners who want to come to Detroit to start a business!

During the show, we talk about Detroit, Direct Primary Care, Plum Health DPC, and some of the issues with Health Care as we know it today. 

I really appreciate Mark's invitation, and I hope you enjoy the broadcast, which you can find here, as well as the video of the interview, which is here:

Thank you for reading and have a great day!

- Dr. Paul with Plum Health

P.S. you can follow Mark S. Lee on Twitter, @LeeGroup, and read more about what he does on his website, Lee Group Innovation

A photo with Mr. Lee after the interview on Small Talk with Mark S Lee. Photo credit: Mark S. Lee. 

A photo with Mr. Lee after the interview on Small Talk with Mark S Lee. Photo credit: Mark S. Lee. 

Plum Health at Bamboo Detroit

This week, we held office hours at Bamboo Detroit, on Washington Boulevard in the Central Business District of Detroit. If you follow us, you know that we've spent time at WeWork Detroit and are looking to engage with PonyRide in the future. 

So far, we've found that the majority of our customers are small business owners or folks that are responsible for their own health care expenditures. Once these entrepreneurs know about us and what we do, they are excited about our brand and what we have to offer. 

That's why it's so important for us to go out into the community and meet entrepreneurs where they're at! So many times, we get so caught up in our work that we don't take the time to take care of ourselves. With Plum Health, we work on your schedule, not the other way around. And, as an entrepreneur myself, I know the hustle and work ethic that it takes to be successful, and it's easier for me to relate with my members who are entrepreneurs and vice-versa.

Strategy aside, Bamboo Detroit is an excellent co-working space in the Central Business District (CBD) in Detroit. They have offices, hot desks, and great amenities for growing entrepreneurs. They invited me over for an office hours type session, and this gave me an opportunity to answer any questions their entrepreneurs had about health and wellness. I had a few moments to spare, so I shot this video - enjoy!

Thanks so much for reading and watching!

- Dr. Paul with Plum Health DPC

Plum Health on Detroit is Different

This week, Plum Health DPC was featured on Detroit is Different with Khary Wae Frazier. Khary is the founder of Detroit is Different, which discusses the rich cultural tapestry of Detroit and features the people and businesses that make up this great city. You can check out our episode on his website, here

You may know Khary from his work with the Motor City Match - he makes videos for the Motor City Match, featuring entrepreneurs that have won the competitive business challenge. Here's the video that he made for Plum Health DPC.

Here's how Khary describes the work that he does: 

Detroit is Different is about culture, and business makes up a lot of that for our city. The products, services, and the style/ process in which they’re delivered are uniquely Detroit. The gate of the Detroit River has welcomed world travelers for centuries. Today the port remains America’s busiest border for importing and exporting goods. I’ve always felt the best asset we’ve offered the world are Detroiters.

Here's the video before we went live on his Podcast! 

Thanks so much for reading and watching,

- Paul Thomas, MD 

Health Coverage for your Employees

With changes looming for healthcare in the United States, many individuals and employers are on edge and uncertain of what may come down the legislative pipeline. In my community small business association, in Corktown Detroit, a few questions were asked about the Affordable Care Act and the mandates set forth therein. 

Question #1: at what size does your business need to offer health insurance for your employees?

For now, if you have 50 or more full-time equivalent employees, you must provide health insurance coverage, or you have to pay a fine. This is known as the "employer mandate" in the Affordable Care Act, aka ObamaCare. This coverage must apply to at least 95% of your full-time employees and their dependents up to age 26. Spouses are not included in this mandate. More information on this topic can be found here

Question #2: What if one of your employees already has their own health insurance coverage?

Employees with their own insurance plan can keep their current insurance plan. They can also cancel their plan and sign up with their employer's coverage plan. As long as you the employer offer coverage, you won't be fined. But, the employee can't get a marketplace subsidy if the employer's coverage meets affordability and minimum value guidelines. 

Question #3: If your employee switches coverage, can they still see their own doctor?

On choosing to keep your own doctor, you can still go to your doctor, but you may have to pay an out of pocket fee. For example, if you have NGS (or Oakwood Hospital Insurance), you are typically pushed to Oakwood doctors. If you decide to see a doctor at Henry Ford, you will not be forbidden from seeing them, you just will have to pay more out-of-pocket because they are not an "in-network" doctor. HAP is the insurance typically coupled with Henry Ford. Blue Cross Blue Shield allows for greater flexibility in terms of choosing doctors as it is accepted by most physicians. 

Question #4: How do you find services, doctors, and specialists covered by your insurance?

For finding doctors that accept your insurance, the easiest way is to look up the doctor online and see if they accept your insurance. Alternatively, you can call their office and ask, "do you accept HAP/NGS/Cigna/BCBS?" Finally, you can call the number on the back of your card and ask for your choices for primary care doctors or specialists that are covered by your plan in your neighborhood/area. 

Question #5: Our company has less than 50 full-time employees, We aren't making enough money to cover our employees with health insurance, but we would like to provide some sort of health care. What options do we have?

This is the ideal situation for Direct Primary Care practices like Plum Health DPC and many small businesses find themselves in this situation Because we offer an affordable, accessible health care service at a known cost, you as the employer know exactly what you're getting and the price you will pay. For $49/month for adults under 40 and for $69/month for adults over 40, you have access to our doctor and our primary care services when you need it. 

Question #6: So, under your plan at Plum Health DPC, what is covered and what isn't covered?

We can take care of 80 - 90% of your health care needs, including coughs, colds, cuts that need stitches, preventive care, and disease management for conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, eczema, etc... We also offer wholesale medications, at-cost labs, and at-cost imaging services.

What we can't cover are things like heart attacks, strokes, and auto accidents that are severe. For these issues, you need to go to the hospital or the emergency department for immediate care. This is why we recommend that all of our customers have some sort of catastrophic coverage plan that covers emergency and hospital care. 

If you have any further questions about what we do, don't hesitate to reach out!

- Paul Thomas, MD