By Katie Demeria
December 24, 2015 – Linda Nash is at it again.
The founder and former CEO of high-end medical provider PartnerMD is back in business with a similar venture, WellcomeMD.
Nash said WellcomeMD is slightly different than her former company, which she founded in 2003 and sold to Markel for an undisclosed sum in 2011.
Both provide so-called concierge medicine, meaning patients pay a membership fee for 24/7 access to their physicians and highly personalized care. But the WellcomeMD offices will also support customers on a lower tier, providing a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant for patients who do not want, or cannot afford, the concierge membership service.
Nash said she conceived the idea last year while preparing to separate from PartnerMD and thinking about what she’d do next.
She said typically once a physician signs up with PartnerMD, their patient base either needs to start paying the concierge fee or find a new physician. In this new model, Nash said, patients will have the option to stay with the office, seeing a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant regularly, and their doctor when in need, without becoming a WellcomeMD concierge member.
“The thing that was always hard for all of us at PartnerMD was the conversion and seeing the patients leave their physician,” she said. “It was extremely hard on the physician, too, and I was thinking about that and wondering if I could figure out a way to make that easier.”
This new model, she said, can potentially broaden the patient base by offering services to younger patients who cannot yet afford the concierge service fee but might want to start receiving those services when they’re older.
“It’s a nice way to keep the patients in the same office, and as they transition to different phases of their lives, it’s a very easy transition over to the concierge side,” she said.
In its higher tier, WellcomeMD plans to charge $1,900 per year for concierge services and $600 for children’s care. Nash said some markets may be more expensive than others. That fee does not apply to the lower-tier offering for patients seeking care from a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant. All those patients will be able to use their health insurance to cover their care when applicable.
Nash is embarking on the new company with a partner, Brian Tuffin, former CEO of Fuse Science, which patents technology that delivers medicine through the skin.
The pair wants to launch WellcomeMD sometime in late January and is already speaking with physicians in southern Florida, where Tuffin is located, and another state that Nash did not disclose. She said they will likely restrict themselves to two offices and two physicians starting out.
Launching involves signing a contract with a physician and setting up shop in his or her office. Nash said to keep costs low, she and Tuffin plan to work with physicians that already have their own practices to lower the costs of opening a new brick-and-mortar office.
“We work in contracts with the physicians where they start at one level, but when we’re doing well, they’re doing quite well in terms of salary and compensation, much more so than they would do in a traditional practice, and we take away their risk,” Nash said.
Nash and Tuffin are currently the only investors, but Nash said she has a few ready to participate. She did not share how much it will cost to get the company off the ground but said they are trying to keep costs as low as possible.
Nash has other ventures in the works. She started Linda Nash Ventures, a consulting company for startups, soon after leaving PartnerMD, and on Jan. 1 plans to launch Precision Medical Recruiting, a physician and mid-level medical associate recruiting firm.
“It was almost an organic outgrowth of my consulting work with Linda Nash Ventures,” she said of Precision. “I had several clients, and they’ve said their biggest problem is that they can’t find a dermatologist or a functional medical doctor or a nurse practitioner. So we just did it as a client service, then I decided to spin it off so that it could be a little more focused and not just bunched in with the consulting.”
The recruiting firm already has four clients. Two employees – one in Richmond and one in Seattle – are lined up to start with Precision on Jan. 1.
Nash is launching Precision with a partner she declined to name.
Linda Nash Ventures began in February of 2015, shortly after Nash left PartnerMD. Her client roster has grown to 21 clients and three employees.