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.
Dr. Paul Thomas and his Detroit Young Professionals Vanguard Award 2018.
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.
The process of signing a lease, designing an office space, and working with several different professionals to get the job done has been challenging.
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.
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.
The front cover of Dr. Paul Thomas's new book, "Direct Primary Care: The Cure For Our Broken Healthcare System", available on Amazon now.
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.
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 of medications, including the antidepressant he needed. The next day, I received the medications and made the house call.
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.
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?
I've mentioned previously, 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!
Want more from Dr. Paul and Plum Health DPC?
Visit the Plum Health DPC Blog.