Direct Primary Care Detroit

Plum Health teaming up with Veterans Care Network

Plum Health teaming up with Veterans Care Network

Plum Health DPC is teaming up with Veterans Care Network to provide affordable, accessible healthcare services to those who have served in the military. Veterans Care Network has set aside some funding to sponsor a few Veterans and help them receive primary care services. They chose to use Direct Primary Care because they know how valuable the services in the DPC model can be.

Plum Health DPC Serves Veterans in Detroit

At Plum Health, we’re passionate about serving veterans and providing excellent healthcare services to all people, but especially those who have served our country. One of the biggest concerns that my patients who are Veterans have is the level of customer service at the Veterans Administration hospital. We rectify that issue by focusing our care on the patient and making sure that they not only have excellent healthcare, but also an excellent experience.

We’re excited to partner with Veterans Care Network, and if you’d like to apply for this opportunity, follow this link.

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day,

-Dr. Paul Thomas with Plum Health DPC

Veterans Care Network and Plum Health DPC team up to provide Direct Primary Care services for Veterans in Detroit, Michigan.

Veterans Care Network and Plum Health DPC team up to provide Direct Primary Care services for Veterans in Detroit, Michigan.

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:

EPISODE SUMMARY

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.

WHAT WAS COVERED

  • 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

TWEETABLES

“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.”

LINKS

Sound Financial Group on Facebook - @SoundFinancialGroup

Sound Financial Group on LinkedIn

Dr. Paul Thomas LinkedIn

Dr. Paul Thomas Facebook

Dr. Paul Thomas Twitter

Dr. Paul Thomas Instagram

Dr. Paul Thomas Website/Blog

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.

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!

drpaul-v4-print-cover_Page_01.jpg

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! 

Family Doctor on Flashpoint with Devin Scillian

Today, we were featured on Flashpoint on WDIV with Devin Scillian. The conversation focused on Direct Primary Care, and our clinic in Southwest Detroit called Plum Health DPC, which is making healthcare affordable and accessible in Detroit and beyond.

Devin Scillian is the host of Flashpoint, and a highly respected journalist in Detroit, so it was a tremendous honor to be invited onto the program to discuss this important issue. Flanking Devin Scillian was Frank McGeorge, MD, an emergency room physician and the Good Health reporter for WDIV. Dr. McGeorge was brought in to provide an additional layer of insight into health care and ask questions about Direct Primary Care from the lens of a physician/health care insider.

We also discussed our book, Direct Primary Care: The Cure for Our Broken Healthcare System.

Below I will paraphrase parts of the show:

Direct primary care introduction

Devin Scillian: Should your doctor be subscription-based? A new model allows as many visits as needed, for one monthly rate.  There was a discussion about new concepts in health care… For some time I’ve been wanting to talk about a new idea in Health Care, it’s called Direct Primary Care. It doesn’t come from your employer, or the government. It’s basically an agreement between you and your doctor - you pay a monthly fee to subscribe to your physician. All the visits that you might need that month are covered. You need medications? Well, they cut a deal on prescriptions, which you would pay out of pocket.

We’ve had a lot of debates about what to do with American Health care - there’s talk about single payer health care and a universal system. Getting less conversation, and we’ll correct that this morning, is the idea of Direct Primary Care, and the Author of a new book Direct Primary Care: The Cure for Our Broken Healthcare System, is with us this morning, Dr. Paul Thomas of Plum Health DPC. And we have Dr. Frank McGeorge, our medical reporter from WDIV Local 4, who will ask better questions than I would.

So you can get rid of health insurance?

Devin Scillian: The first thing I want to get to, is to get rid of insurance and the government?

Paul Thomas, MD: I unequivocally recommend that folks have health insurance, but for your routine primary care services, the costs are much less if you purchase them directly through your doctor. You want to maintain a health insurance plan that you’re comfortable with, and use the free market or Direct Primary Care services to the lower the costs of your meds, labs, imaging services, and doctor visits.

So this is a club, basically? and what is your Pricing like?

Devin Scillian: So, I would kind of use you and your partners like I belong to a club, basically?

Paul Thomas, MD: Yes, it’s a membership model for health care, so you can come in and see us any time you need to. Visits are included in our pricing structure:

The 2018 pricing for Plum Health DPC, as shown during an interview between Paul Thomas MD, Devin Scillian, and Frank McGeorge MD on Flashpoint on WDIV, Local 4 News.

The 2018 pricing for Plum Health DPC, as shown during an interview between Paul Thomas MD, Devin Scillian, and Frank McGeorge MD on Flashpoint on WDIV, Local 4 News.

Devin Scillian: Unless your in a health plan that I’ve never heard of, this looks really reasonable, much less than you and I are paying, doc (Dr. Frank McGeorge).

Dr. Frank McGeorge: This is a very different way of doing things, clearly, and it does make sense. I have to say, I really applaud what you’re doing, because I think it’s wonderful that you are getting back to the most basic form of providing health care, that is directly to the patient, cutting out all of the bureaucratic nonsense as much as possible. You don’t need a biller and coder in your office, you save that money right off the top, and you pass that savings directly onto the patient.

Biggest concerns about the direct primary care model?

Devin Scillian: So your biggest concerns with it are what?

Dr. Frank McGeorge: Well what’s interesting to me, is that you’re doing what we used to do in Family Practice one hundred years ago, you were the small town doc. Everyone would come to you with all of their problems. But the problem now is that back then you could know all of medicine, but now, medicine is so much more complex. I guess, how do you deal with specialty referrals? The things that are out of your family practice domain.

Paul Thomas MD of Plum Health DPC on Flashpoint with Devin Scillian and Dr. Frank McGeorge of WDIV Channel 4 in Detroit, Michigan, discussing Direct Primary Care.

Paul Thomas MD of Plum Health DPC on Flashpoint with Devin Scillian and Dr. Frank McGeorge of WDIV Channel 4 in Detroit, Michigan, discussing Direct Primary Care.

Paul Thomas MD: The typical scope of a family medicine doctor is 70 - 80% of anything that you might walk into the doctor’s office with. So I can handle 70 - 80% of your concerns, the rest you would typically refer to specialists. Now in my model, we use an e-consult platform called Rubicon, where we can write up your case history and send it to a Board Certified Ophthalmologist or Dermatologist or Cardiologist with a photo or a copy of your EKG, and get a second opinion at no charge to you the patient.

Devin Scillian: No charge to me, because you’ve developed a relationship with these specialists.

Paul Thomas MD: Exactly, it’s an e-consult platform called Rubicon that any primary care physician can use, and I use it because I actually have the time to listen to you fully, to take down copious notes about your condition, and send those over to the specialist and get a second opinion within about 12 hours.

How many patients can a direct primary care doctor handle?

Devin Scillian: Have you figured out where the sweet spot is for how many patients you can handle?

Paul Thomas MD on Flashpoint with Devin Scillian and Dr. Frank McGeorge of WDIV Channel 4 in Detroit, Michigan, discussing Direct Primary Care.

Paul Thomas MD on Flashpoint with Devin Scillian and Dr. Frank McGeorge of WDIV Channel 4 in Detroit, Michigan, discussing Direct Primary Care.

Paul Thomas MD: The typical number of patients per physician in the Direct Primary Care model is 500 - 600 patients. Now, contrast that with the typical family doctor who has to have 2,400 patients, so they’re seeing 1% of their panel each day or 24 patients each day. In our model, when we see 1% of our panel, we see 5 - 6 patients each day. And, that gives me an hour per patient to really sit down with you and understand what you’re going through, and help you through that situation.

What is the pricing like for medications and lab work?

Devin Scillian: You and I have been looking at these price lists (to Dr. McGeorge), because they cut deals on prescriptions and on lab tests. With your trained eye, and the time you spend in the Emergency Room, how does everything look?

Those forms for your reference: List of our laboratory pricesList of our medication prices.

Dr. Frank McGeorge: This is clearly the way it should be. One of the things I’ve always rallied against is the opaqueness of how billing and charging is done in the medical care system. Frankly, if you go into hospital A versus hospital B, you don’t know how much you’re going to be charged for any given test because it’s different in each hospital. This (pricing) is great because it’s all laid out in advance and it looks like it’s done, basically, at cost.

Paul Thomas MD: Exactly, because you’re already paying the membership, I want to give you as much value for your healthcare dollar as possible. So, we make all of our prices transparent, and we only charge the cost of the medication, or the lab, or the imaging service so you get the most value out of the service as possible.

Can Direct Primary Care Doctors make money in this system?

Devin Scillian: I don’t know how to ask this delicately, but is this lucrative for you? Do you make a fair amount - enough money? Or are you just messing with the system?

Paul Thomas MD: As the membership grows, as the doctor gets to full capacity, you earn about what you would make as an employed physician, maybe a little bit less. But, we have a saying in the Direct Primary Care movement that nothing pays like autonomy. I can be the physician I was meant to be. And, in this model, it’s really inspiring for other doctors who want to join this movement because you have the ability to practice medicine on your own terms, and not at the dictates of insurance companies or government heath care systems.

The full video can be seen above, and on the Flashpoint website.

Thank you so much for reading and watching,

-Dr. Paul Thomas with Plum Health DPC

Paul Thomas, MD with Devin Scillian and Dr. Frank McGeorge of WDIV Detroit on the set of Flashpoint. The discussion on Flashpoint this week centered around Direct Primary Care, a new model for health care that aims to improve the quality of healthcare while decreasing overall costs.

Paul Thomas, MD with Devin Scillian and Dr. Frank McGeorge of WDIV Detroit on the set of Flashpoint. The discussion on Flashpoint this week centered around Direct Primary Care, a new model for health care that aims to improve the quality of healthcare while decreasing overall costs.

Paul Thomas, MD of Plum Health DPC, Devin Scillian of WDIV Channel 4 News in Detroit, and Dr. Frank McGeorge, an Emergency Medicine Physician and broadcaster with the Good Health segment on WDIV local 4. During Flashpoint this week, we discussed Direct Primary Care and the opportunity that it provides to change our healthcare system from the ground up. Devin Scillian was also kind enough to mention our book,  Direct Primary Care: The Cure for Our Broken Healthcare System .

Paul Thomas, MD of Plum Health DPC, Devin Scillian of WDIV Channel 4 News in Detroit, and Dr. Frank McGeorge, an Emergency Medicine Physician and broadcaster with the Good Health segment on WDIV local 4. During Flashpoint this week, we discussed Direct Primary Care and the opportunity that it provides to change our healthcare system from the ground up. Devin Scillian was also kind enough to mention our book, Direct Primary Care: The Cure for Our Broken Healthcare System.

Plum Health DPC on Channel 7 Action News Detroit

Plum Health DPC on Channel 7 Action News Detroit

This week, our clinic Plum Health DPC was interviewed by the journalists at Channel 7 Action News in Detroit. The piece will be airing on Monday September 24th at 11 pm, after the season 2 premiere of “The Good Doctor”. This will air on Channel 7 in the Greater Detroit television market.

I was very impressed by the depth of questioning and level of examination our Direct Primary Care practice received during the course of the filming and interviewing. The journalists at Channel 7 WXYZ Detroit did a phenomenal job of learning about our practice and what makes us unique.

They went into great detail about the membership pricing, the wholesale medications, at-cost labs, and at-cost imaging services. I came away with a greater understanding and appreciation for how much work goes into each and every segment that we watch on the local news and I am so excited to see the final piece, tonight at 11!

Thanks for reading and watching, teaser trailer after the break,

- Dr. Paul Thomas, MD with Plum Health DPC in Detroit, Michigan

To make an appointment, call 313.444.5630. To enroll online, go to this link. To learn more, check out our main webpage.

Full Video from WXYZ Channel 7 News Featuring Dr. Paul Thomas of Plum Health DPC.

Video trailer of the WXYZ Detroit Channel 7 News Clip featuring Dr. Paul Thomas of Plum Health DPC:

How to Find the Best Prescription Drug Prices in Detroit

As many of us are aware, the price of prescription drugs can be astronomical. People are paying for a retail markup at pharmacies, often paying 10 - 20 times as much as the drug actually costs at wholesale. Even worse, insurance companies often charge more for medications purchased via your insurance plan than the medication would cost if you bought it at the cash price. 

Why is this important to me? I'm a Family Doctor in Southwest Detroit and I took an oath to do no harm, and for me that oath also includes doing no financial harm. So, I am focused on lowering the cost of health care for my patients and the greater community. 

How to find the best prescription drug prices in Detroit

If you're like many people, you probably go to the pharmacy with your Rx card or prescription card from your health insurance company. You then have the pharmacist 'run the card' to find out if you get a discount when you purchase medication. 

What you should do instead is ask the pharmacist, "what is your cash price for this medication?" Also, you can ask for any coupons that the pharmacist might have. If you are dissatisfied with the price, then pull out your insurance card and ask for them to 'run the card'. This will ensure that you have a fair price point to start from. 

In addition, you can shop around for the best prescription drug prices in Detroit or in your local community by comparing prices online. Using tools like GoodRx.com can help you find the exact price for the medication you need. 

Using Direct Primary Care to Lower Drug Prices

There is another option to find even lower prescription drug prices. That option is called Direct Primary Care. In the Direct Primary Care model, doctors aim to provide as much value as possible for patients' health care dollars. In simple terms, we DPC doctors try to lower the cost of health care. 

What does this look like? It looks like 70% - 90% savings on prescription drug prices in Detroit and the Metro Detroit Area. Just check out this chart and see for yourself the actual, wholesale cost of the medication compared to the price you would pay at the pharmacy with the retail pharmacy mark up, or the inflated price. 

Original image taken from  Consumer Reports .

Original image taken from Consumer Reports.

 

How do we do this? At Plum Health DPC, we buy the medications at a wholesale price and then we sell them to our patients at-cost. This means if we buy a bottle of 1000 blood pressure medications at $10, each pill costs 1 cent. Then your monthly prescription cost for that blood pressure medication is 30 cents.

In the above example, we are able to get Pioglitazone (Actos) for $4.30 per month, Celecoxib (Celebrex) for $6.47 per month, Duloxetine (Cymbalta) for $7.04 per month, Atorvastatin or Lipitor for $2.09 per month, and Clopidogrel or Plavix for $4.28 per month. The total monthly cost would be $24.18 for our patient, and that is a huge cost savings compared to the nearest retail pharmacy.

By lowering the cost of medications, we can improve access to primary care services, better control blood pressure and diabetes, and therefore decrease the risks of heart attacks, strokes, and complications of diabetes in our community. This will lead to lower rates of disability and death, or a healthier society. 

We are proud to make a difference in this way. Thank you for reading and learning about the cost of prescription drugs, and let me know if I can help you or a family member lower the cost of health care.

Sincerely,

- Dr. Paul Thomas, MD with Plum Health DPC

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!

Plum Health Featured on the Detroit Rising Podcast

This week, Plum Health DPC was featured in Crain's Detroit Business in an article by Senior Reporter Chad Livengood. There is an accompanying audio recording of the interview, here

The Detroit Rising Podcast focuses on business and commerce and the intersection of Public Policy in Detroit. It was a pleasure to be featured on the podcast and on the Crain's Detroit website. Additionally, Chad Livengood brings excellent insights along with his investigative reporting. 

In the audio segment, Mr. Livengood states, "one of the biggest challenges to rebuilding Detroit is getting service-based businesses to set up shop after decades of disinvestment." And, Plum Health DPC is one of those service-based businesses, and it was exciting to discuss how we're making health care more affordable and accessible in Detroit.

During the interview, we talk about the Direct Primary Care business model, the availability of primary care physicians in Detroit, and what the City of Detroit is doing to improve the quality of life in the city. 

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

- Dr. Paul Thomas with Plum Health DPC

2018 Plum Health Direct Primary Care Crains Detroit Business Chad Livengood.png

A screenshot from the Crain's Detroit webpage featuring our interview.

On February 20th, we were featured on the front page of the Crain's Detroit Business webpage, you just might have to squint to see us!

On February 20th, we were featured on the front page of the Crain's Detroit Business webpage, you just might have to squint to see us!

Heart Health in Detroit Video

Because it's February and it's heart health month, I shot a short video about high blood pressure, changes in blood pressure thresholds, and what you can do to keep your heart healthy!

Plum Health on Jibs Podcast

This week Plum Health DPC was featured on Jibs Podcast, hosted by Jibran Ahmed. On the podcast he will be interviewing movers and shakers in the Detroit community and discussing topics that can move the city forward. 

From Jibran: "I'm hoping to create a platform that showcases the entrepreneurs, creatives, and hustlers that are moving Detroit forward. In order to make Detroit the city of the future, it's important to share with the world that this city embodies gusto, grit, and innovation."

During our conversation we talked about Plum Health and it's origin story. We also talk about why it's important for business people to build relationships in the community and how those early relationships can translate into a prosperous business.

We dove into the difference between Direct Primary Care and traditional or fee-for-service medical practice and discussed why more doctors aren't practicing in the DPC model of care. We also highlight the many community resources in the Detroit ecosystem that enable businesses in the City and region to thrive. 

Thanks for reading and watching!

- Dr. Paul Thomas with Plum Health DPC

The Radically Accessible Doctor in Detroit

This week, we took on a new patient on a Sunday evening. They had developed a pretty serious abscess in their armpit over the Thanksgiving weekend. On their drive home, they realized that they should probably have it looked at. By searching Google, they found our clinic!

Our new patient searched "Doctor Open Today", that's when they found Plum Health DPC!

Our new patient searched "Doctor Open Today", that's when they found Plum Health DPC!

Because it was a Sunday evening, they knew that it would be difficult to find an available doctor in Detroit. They searched "Doctor Open Today" and fortunately found our Plum Health clinic. 

I believe that health care should be affordable and accessible. Because of that belief, I am radically accessible for the patients in my care. 

So, that patient called around 2:30 pm on Sunday, and I was able to see them at 4:20 pm. We drained the abscess and started the appropriate antibiotic, dispensed from our in-clinic/on-site pharmacy. They had a follow up appointment during regular business hours on Tuesday, and was feeling much better!

Thanks for reading, and have a great day!

- Dr. Paul Thomas with Plum Health DPC

Paul Thomas MD on Small Talk with Mark S. Lee

This weekend I was featured on Small Talk with Mark S. Lee. The radio broadcast airs on CBS Radio in Detroit! I was last on Small Talk in March 2017, and since that time, Plum Health DPC has grown in size and I've been asked to participate in some speaking and community events. 

In this episode of Small Talk with Mark S Lee, we talk about the TEDxDetroit event that was held on November 9th 2017. We highlight a few of the key points that I spoke about during that event. Foremost, I believe that health care should be affordable and accessible for everyone. Second, we talk about how doctors can be overloaded by their patients' concerns, and those concerns can slip through their fingers, like grains of sand. 

We also give an overview of Direct Primary Care and how you can find a Direct Primary Care doctor near you by using the DPC Mapper online

Mark asks what's wrong with our current system? And I respond by saying that the prices in the health care ecosystem are inflated, which makes health care unaffordable for many people. 

To illustrate, I make an analogy about Health Insurance vs. Auto Insurance. If we used our Auto Insurance policies to pay for tire rotations, oil changes or gasoline, those prices would be significantly inflated. However, that's exactly what we do with our Health Insurance policies. 

It's always enjoyable being on Small Talk with Mark S. Lee, and this time was a unique experience as the Honorable Former Mayor Dave Bing was interviewed just prior to my time slot! Not only is Dave Bing a former mayor, but he's also in the NBA Hall of Fame. He continues to be an example of great leadership as he continues his work with the Bing Youth Institute, so it was an honor to be a part of the show with him.

Thanks for reading and thanks for watching!

Sincerely,

Dr. Paul Thomas with Plum Health DPC

Mentoring Students at Wayne State University School of Medicine

Part of my mission, part of the "why" behind what I do, is to educate medical students and inspire them to choose a career in primary care specialties. Primary care doctors have the greatest impact on their communities, have the most tools at their disposal, and are most able to bend the cost curve in the health care ecosystem.

As a part of that mission, I spend a good amount of time interacting with medical students at Wayne State University School of Medicine (WSUSOM). This week, I took part in two different events at WSUSOM. The first was a mentoring session for first year students and the second was a mock interview session for the fourth year students. 

For the first year students, it's an opportunity to get to know each other, learn from each other, and to be a resource. For the fourth year students, it's an opportunity to help them polish their interviewing skills as they prepare for the next step in their careers - residency! 

This next generation of doctors will face significant changes and challenges in the health care system - from greater automation, to precision medicine, to even Artificial Intelligence. I hope that I can be a part of the foundation along with their formal education at WSUSOM that sets them on the right path to success in medicine. 

Thanks for reading, and have a beautiful day,

- Dr. Paul Thomas with Plum Health DPC

Drew and Mike on Health Care

I was listening to the Drew and Mike Podcast from September 26th, and Drew and his Crew were talking about how health insurance costs are outrageous! Early in the episode (time 1:16), one of the co-hosts admonished Drew Lane, "you can barely afford insurance for yourself!" This set off a conversation about the cost of health insurance, the little coverage that it affords and Drew Lane's displeasure with the overall system. 

Drew's first reaction (minute 1:28), "I don't know how people my age, in my position," not yet covered by Medicare, "and self-employed... ...that's a big chunk of money." He goes on to say that his insurance costs roughly $18,000 - 19,000/year and if you were to make $50,000/year, it would cost roughly 30% of your gross income. 

Because of this extremely high cost, Drew and his co-hosts speculate that some folks just choose to "roll the dice," i.e. go without insurance and hope for the best. They do mention that those folks earning less may be eligible for subsidies or tax breaks from the Federal Government. But, still - a huge chunk of our income is going directly to health insurance and health insurance companies. Even worse, the quality and service levels can be low because care is dictated by third party payers like insurance companies or the government. 

Because Drew's dog recently had eye surgery, Drew was talking about how veterinarians discuss charges before providing care, and how that concept should be applied to the human medical field. "Wouldn't that be something?" Drew asks rhetorically. 

Well, it doesn't have to be a rhetorical question. It doesn't have to be a pipe dream. I'm here to tell you that Direct Primary Care doctors make their prices clear and transparent, and it may revolutionize primary care!

Here's how it works: Direct Primary Care (DPC) is a membership model for health care. Prices vary between different DPC practices, but our prices at Plum Health are $10/month for kids, $49/month for young adults 18 - 40, $69/month for adults 40 - 65, and $89/month for older adults 65 and up. 

With that membership, patients or members can come in and see the doctor any time! They can also call, text or email the doctor anytime. 

Further, patients or members can have access to wholesale medications, at-cost labs, and at-cost imaging services. So far we've saved our members tens of thousands of dollars on these ancillary services. 

I shot a video explaining these concepts in more detail, here:

Thanks so much for reading and watching. I hope that I've opened your eyes to the possibility of better health care services with a transparent pricing structure.  Finally, have a wonderful day!

- Dr. Paul Thomas with Plum Health in Detroit, MI

2017 Plum Health DPC Drew and Mike Podcast.png

Wayne State White Coat Ceremony Speech

The White Coat Ceremony, a New Tradition

The annual White Coat Ceremony is a relatively new tradition at medical schools across the country. In order to convey the virtues of the profession - compassion, altruism, duty, honor, respect, and responsibility - Dr. Arnold P. Gold created the event.

The first White Coat Ceremony was held at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York in 1993. Dr. Gold believed that students should declare their commitment to the profession and the virtues therein at the beginning of their medical school journey, rather than at the end.

Now, 97% of medical schools have a White Coat Ceremony. The Ceremony gives a clear set of guidelines for these doctors-in-training to follow, and students are able to accept the obligations of the profession and commit to upholding the high standards that come with the title of "doctor". 

The Declaration of Commitment

I solemnly pledge myself to consecrate my life to the service of humanity;

I will give to my teachers the respect and gratitude which is their due;

I will develop my skills with conscience and dignity;

The health of my patients and myself will be my first considerations; 

I will respect those things that are confided in me;

I will maintain by all the means in my power the honour and the noble traditions of the medical profession;

My colleagues will be my comrades;

I will not permit considerations of religion, nationality, race, party politics, sexual orientation, or social standings to intervene between my duty, my peers, and my patients;

I will maintain the utmost respect for human life and I will not use my medical knowledge contrary to law;

I make these promises solemnly, freely and upon my honour. 

My Speech

First of all, it was a tremendous honor to be selected as the Keynote Speaker for the Wayne State University School of Medicine White Coat Ceremony for the Class of 2021. When I received the phone call to be the speaker, I was nearly speechless and unsure of my ability to live up to the expectations that come with this role. I needed 24 hours to think on the offer. 

After talking it over with my wife, I decided that this was something that I could do, and that I had a lot to say about the opportunity before these students and the medical profession in general.

When I was getting ready for medical school, I read several books. I was to be the first doctor in my family and I had a limited perspective on the medical field, i.e. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. 

One of the authors that stuck with me was Atul Gawande, a surgeon and writer out of Boston. He wrote about the appealing aspects of a career in Medicine: autonomy, complexity, and a direct relationship between effort and reward. 

However, something was missing. For me, that something is happiness. You see, doctors struggle with professional burnout, substance abuse, and suicide. We can speculate about why, but I think it's some combination of consistent perfection, frustrations with the monolithic systems within health care, and a heavy workload. I didn't want to get into the darker side of these concerns during the White Coat Ceremony, but they definitely influenced my speech. 

Because of these concerns and these problems in the medical profession, I believe that we need to focus on creating a culture of happiness in the medical field. How can we train doctors to be happy? How can we create hospital systems, clinics, and insurance policies that foster physician wellness and happiness? 

I don't know if there are great answers to these questions, but it's something that I have thought about deeply. For me, creating a happy practice involved creating a membership model for health care via Plum Health. That works for me, but during my speech, I encouraged these medical students to explore the profession fully and to find their own means of happiness within it. 

I wish the very best to the WSU SOM Class of 2021. I know that these students will be a part of a generation of doctors that revolutionizes the way we deliver high-quality, compassionate health care. Without further ado, my speech: 

Thanks for reading and for watching, and have a wonderful day,

- Paul Thomas, MD | Doctor with Plum Health in Detroit, Michigan

Wayne State University School of Medicine published an official write-up about the event on their webpage, here

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 

Street Medicine Detroit

This month I had the opportunity to volunteer with Street Medicine Detroit, an organization dedicated to helping homeless people in Detroit with their medical care. This was an organization that I volunteered with and supported during its early days at Wayne State University School of Medicine.

The service is run by WSU medical student volunteers and they go out to different locations across Detroit and assist those who need medical care. This can be done on street corners, in soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and churches across the city.

This month, I met up with the volunteering students at Manna Community Meal to deliver health care services. This is in the basement of St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Detroit's Corktown neighborhood. It was a great way to give back, and if you want to support Street Medicine, they take donations at their website, here

Talking with a group of medical students while volunteering with Street Medicine Detroit at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in the Corktown Neighborhood of Detroit, Michigan. 

Talking with a group of medical students while volunteering with Street Medicine Detroit at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in the Corktown Neighborhood of Detroit, Michigan. 

Medication Price Comparison in Detroit

As a part of our service, we do free consultations for folks struggling to pay for their medications. Medication pricing is a hot topic in the health care field and overall health system - we've all heard about drug companies raking in huge profits on drugs that used to cost just a few dollars. 

I bring this up because real people in our community are struggling to pay for their blood pressure meds, diabetes meds, blood thinners, and other pharmaceutical products. Even worse, they are paying inflated prices through the "retail pharmacy" like CVS, Meijer Pharmacy, or Walgreens. 

We give folks free consultations at Plum Health, and a big part of this is price checking their medications. Today, I had someone in the community reach out to me to ask for a price check on a whole list of medications that they take. Here's what we found:

DRUG LIST                      PLUM HEALTH Price/pill, Price/month            Insurance price/month

Atenolol 25 mg                  $0.018/pill or                  $0.54/month                     $12.99/mo

Carbidopa/Levodopa 250/10   $0.096/pill or         $2.88/month                     $47.80/mo

Finasteride 5mg                     $0.073/pill or              $2.21/month                       $15.40/mo

Flomax 0.4 mg                          $0.11/pill or                $3.40/month                     $62.75/mo

Metformin 1000 mg                  $0.0129/pill or          $0.38/month                     $12.99/mo

Levothyroxine 50 mcg                $0.27/pill              $8.25/month                       $33.67/mo

Plavix 75 mg is                            $0.06/pill               $1.92/month                         $12.99/mo

Brilinta 90 mg is                        $5.54/pill               $166.20/month                    $999.35/mo

It's eye opening, even after doing this type of medical care for the last 8 months, to see these prices side by side. The left hand column has the drug name, the second column has the Plum Health price per pill, the third column has the Plum Health price per month, and the final column has the insurance-based price per month. 

Again, this gets at the main principle: if you use a third party payment system to purchase things in the market place, the prices become inflated. However, if you buy things directly from vendors in the market place using your own money, costs tend to be less. We are able to get these low prices because we buy medication in bulk from whole sale medication suppliers. 

If you have any questions about medication prices, please feel free to call us at 313.444.5630. We routinely save folks about 50 - 90% on their medication prices. In the example above, this is about how much this person will save. 

Have a wonderful day,

Dr. Paul Thomas with Plum Health DPC

Opinion Published in the Detroit News

Our opinion regarding Health Insurance and Health Care was published in the Detroit News last night, and it is currently on the front of the Opinion Page

 

Our opinion made the top of the page for the Detroit News Opinion section on June 5th 2017. 

Our opinion made the top of the page for the Detroit News Opinion section on June 5th 2017. 

Here's our opinion in full: 

Health insurance does not equal health care. As Americans, we often conflate these two entities. But they are in fact separate.

Health care is when you see your doctor. They listen to your story, empathize, perform a physical exam, make a diagnosis, and discuss treatment options. They can also order tests and give you medications. The compassion, the sincerity, the relationship — that’s health care. Health insurance is what covers you in the case of a medical catastrophe, like if you’re involved in an accident, have a heart attack or a stroke. Health insurance is a financial tool to prevent you from going bankrupt in case these catastrophic events occur.

These may seem like obvious statements, but we’ve grown accustomed to a system in which health insurance covers everything, from flu shots to ICU. This may not be a terrible thing; we all need flu shots, and some of us may end up needing ICU care. The problem exists in how we pay for these services.

If we continue to ask insurance companies like Blue Cross Blue Shield and government entities like Medicaid and Medicare to pay for all of our health care services, from blood pressure medications to cardiac bypass surgery, costs will continue to be inflated.

So if you’re paying $10 for your lisinopril each month, know that it actually costs $0.37. If you’ve paid $120 to check your cholesterol this year, know that it actually costs about $6.55. If you’ve ever paid $150 for a chest X-ray, it actually costs about $40. When we use our insurance cards to pay for the basic, routine health care services, prices are inflated. Fortunately, we now have a choice, an opportunity to use free market principles to save money on our health care services. More Direct Primary Care clinics are popping up in Michigan and across the nation.

Direct Primary Care doctors ask that patients pay a monthly membership, which allows them unlimited visits with their doctor and the ability to call, text or email the doctor any time. These doctors also provide wholesale medications, at-cost labs, and at-cost imaging services. By cutting out the middle man and asking consumers to pay for their basic services, the cost of these basic services decrease. Typical savings for medications, labs and imaging services range from 50 percent to 90 percent.

Ideally, people will pair DPC services with a health insurance plan that fits their needs and their budget, and covers them in case of a catastrophic event.

Paul Thomas, M.D., is a family doctor at Plum Health Direct Primary Care.

A screenshot from our Opinion in the Detroit News on June 5th, 2017. 

A screenshot from our Opinion in the Detroit News on June 5th, 2017. 

Thank you for reading and have a wonderful day,

Dr. Paul Thomas with Plum Health Direct Primary Care in Detroit, Michigan

Direct Primary Care Doctors Have More Time

Have you ever had this experience: a doctor tells you that you have condition "X" with treatment "Y", they then proceed to leave the room. A few moments later, the medical assistant hands you a pamphlet explaining condition "X" and treatment "Y", saying "thank you so much and have a great day"?

Questions start to pop in your head - do they know that I've already tried medication "Z"? What are the common side effects of treatment "Y"? Perhaps you've then asked the medical assistant, who then tries to pull the doctor out of the next patient's room. 

This can be extremely frustrating, and for good reason. When you see the doctor, you want to have a plan. Further, you want to understand this plan, the side effects of treatment, the potential costs involved, and other options if this option fails. 

Direct Primary Care doctors have more time to spend with their patients. We use this time to explain treatment plans, from why we chose a specific medication to what you should expect and when it's time to make that referral. 

As an aside, I was discussing this with some of my Direct Primary Care doctor colleagues: should we be sending information to our patients via digestible video segments? 

My answer is as follows: 

Should Direct Primary Care Doctors make videos for their patients? In short, maybe. If you are consistently repeating information for your patients, it might be a good idea for you to make a short "explainer" video. For example, the difference between strep throat and a viral sore throat or a preferred diet method, or what to do in the case of a tick bite. 

If you are seeing common ailments, it may make sense to make videos explaining the symptoms, but you became a Direct Primary Care Doctor for a reason! You wanted to have more time to discuss issues with your patients, more time to explain why you are using that medication or why you are pursuing that course of action.

It would make more sense to make videos for a larger health system. If the videos are really high quality, the doctors who have less time to explain themselves can use them to give patients the information that they would want to convey themselves, but don't have enough time to convey.

Thanks so much for reading, and have a great day,

Dr. Paul Thomas with Plum Health Direct Primary Care