We had the good fortune of connecting with Rebecca Berens and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rebecca, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I never thought I would become a business owner- if someone had told me that I would own my own medical practice one day when I was in college or medical school I would have thought they were crazy! I graduated from residency in family medicine in 2016, and by early 2019 I was completely burned out at my job in the traditional healthcare system. I was constantly overbooked and never felt like I had enough time to spend with my patients and take care of their needs. In between all these appointments I had to fit in lots of administrative work as well as reviewing lab results and responding to messages from patients, There just were not enough hours in the day to get everything done and I felt like the care I was able to give patients was suffering. Spending only 5-10 minutes with each patient meant visits felt very rushed and there often was not time to address all of their concerns. On top of that, I had just returned to work after having my son. He was 10 weeks old when I returned to work in November of 2018, and I was not given any break time to pump even though I was breastfeeding, so this meant I had to try to be even more efficient to make sure I could fit in pumping while doing my administrative work. I was stressed out, exhausted, and felt like I was failing my patients and my family. I realized that I would either have to work faster and sacrifice my relationships with patients and the quality of my care, or I would not be able to continue working. I decided that I was not willing to compromise patient care, and I was not ready to let my skills and career go to waste. I started doing some research and learned about the direct primary care model, and I realized it was the perfect fit for me to provide care the way I felt was right while also allowing me to control my schedule so that I could still enjoy and meet the needs of my family.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
My practice provides primary care for all ages under a membership model. The monthly membership fee includes all of our services without any additional co-pays or charges- this includes office visits, virtual visits, minor procedures, and direct access to me via text message between visits. Members also have access to more affordable lab work through our lab partner. This model allows me to provide affordable care to anyone regardless of their insurance status, and allows me to be accessible to my patients whenever they need me. Patients are less likely to avoid seeking care due to concerns about cost so we are able to be more proactive about their health needs to keep them well and avoid expensive ER visits and hospital stays for uncontrolled medical problems in the future. If they do get sick or have an injury, we can take care of it quickly and more affordably than an urgent care or ER would. Starting this practice was definitely not easy- I had no experience starting or running a business so I had a lot to learn about accounting, marketing, and the legal side of business. I was lucky to have a lot of supportive direct primary care physician colleagues who had done this before me and offered me guidance and support through the process. There are also a lot of mindset issues to overcome when running a business, particularly around marketing and money. I have found business books and podcasts extremely helpful for working through these mindset issues, particularly those by fellow female business owners. I have learned a lot about myself and grown as a person while learning and working through these issues. The insurance-based healthcare system is so complicated. It is difficult for patients to navigate and access the care they need when they need it, and it is often far more expensive than it should be. Doctors are burning out at record rates- they face an ever increasing administrative burden due to the requirements of insurance companies and have to see more and more patients to compensate for the increased costs caused by these requirements. The system is failing both doctors and patients. I see direct primary care as a solution to making basic healthcare accessible and affordable to everyone. I strive to make my practice affordable and inclusive to all patients,
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Sadly some of our favorite places are no longer open due to the pandemic! We used to love The Classic, it was part of the Benjy’s group. Benjy’s is still around I believe, that was one of our favorite spots in medical school, along with Oporto. Whenever someone comes to visit, we like to spend the day visiting some of the local breweries and wineries, especially those with a patio! We love Buffalo Bayou Brewing Co, Eureka Heights, Houston Cider Company, Decant, Greater Heights Brewing Co, Decant, Platypus Brewing, Saint Arnold’s Brewing. We love taking our kids for a walk through the Arboretum, it is so beautiful and a nice escape from the city. Buffalo Bayou park has great trails as well as a nice kids’ park. 19th St in the Heights is fun to stroll down and browse all the unique locally owned shops there. That makes a great day out finished with delicious dinner at Alice Blue!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
The DPC Alliance and all of the incredible DPC physicians throughout the country who have provided inspiration, guidance, and support through this process
Kitty Sanchez Photography (headshot only)