As a family photographer, I sometimes struggle to produce content for my blog that my audience will find engaging. My goal has always been to create something of value instead of nonsense to go with pretty pictures, so when I learned that one of my favorite clients had left her corporate job to start her own direct primary care clinic in the Denver area, I knew I had subject matter that was begging for an interview.
Keeping kids healthy is a major concern for parents. We want to know our families are getting the very best medical care possible, but for many, when we add up premiums, deductibles and prescriptions and then compare it to the care we receive, it starts to feel like a pretty bad deal. My client, Dr. Wendy Quiles, M.D., felt this on both a professional and a personal level as a family physician with a son who has regular medical needs. We sat down together this week, so I could learn more about her transition to direct primary care and what it means for the members of her new clinic.
Holly Freeman Photography: First of all, not everyone knows about direct primary care. Can you help us understand what that means?
Dr. Wendy Quiles, M.D.: Direct primary care is an attempt to get away from what has become traditional medicine and return to something a bit more old school. And, just to clarify, we are not talking about concierge medicine, where a patient might pay $500-600 per month in order to have a doctor on speed dial. Direct primary care seeks a middle ground. We work to remove as much staff and middle-men as possible in order to bring the costs of medical care down. Members pay a monthly fee and—between myself as a family physician and my business partner who is a doctor of internal medicine—we are able to provide a significant number of procedures, labs and screenings in-house. In the event that a patient has something that needs to be referred out, we then serve as that important hub for communication with specialists to make sure our patients’ care is well coordinated and the best possible.
HFP: This sounds like quite a transition for you personally. Can you tell us a little about why you are pursuing this new venture?
Dr. Quiles: Sure. I mean, truthfully I was tired of my corporate job. The clinic where I worked had been taken over by a large corporation, and I found I was not able to provide the medical care I wanted to. Here’s an example: I had a patient in tears in my office, and she was unable to even say why. In our seven and a half minute meeting, I was able to address the immediate concern and alleviate her situation, but after her appointment, I was disciplined for not addressing her many other health concerns which were listed as codes in her chart and were billable to insurance. In other words, the medical care I was providing was being dictated to me by the insurance companies we contracted with.
I was in tears myself and ready to walk away. I told a girlfriend I was willing to work as a barista in a coffee shop because it was so unbearable. She helped me brainstorm ideas, and that’s when I made the plan to transition to direct primary care.
Our clinic plans to have 300-500 members—a significantly smaller case load than my previous job—which means I have the time with each patient to give the kind of care I want to give. Our appointments are longer, meaning we can address things like prevention, including nutrition and exercise. And we’re able to keep costs down because so much lab work, screenings and procedures can be done in-house instead of contracting out at insurance rates.
HFP: Tell us about your target market. Who are you hoping will become members at your clinic?
Dr. Quiles: Truthfully, between my business partner and myself, we can serve the old and the young. Medicare is proving to be a bit of a problem, so we’re really targeting families and individuals under age 65. We also think this could be perfect for small businesses who want to provide their employees with health care coverage but are unable to pay for traditional insurance plans. We have details on our website regarding monthly membership fees and are
willing to negotiate those fees for larger groups.
HFP: Wendy, what you’re doing sounds fascinating, and I think it could be the answer a lot of families are looking for. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me today. I wish you all the best with your new business.
Dr. Quiles: Thank you.
You can learn more about Dr. Wendy Quiles’ direct primary care clinic in Arvada, Colorado and sign up for membership on her website: https://maiapcw.com/
Holly Freeman is a lifestyle family photographer serving families in the Denver area. Her passion is helping families capture the love between them and transforming their images into works of art they can cherish for years into the future. Reach out to schedule your own photo shoot and follow-up ordering appointment.