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Health Care

Practice Offers Different Pay Model

By Ken Little, posted Jan 2, 2018
Promina Health opened its doors last year in Wilmington and is making inroads in the medical community by offering a direct primary care model.
 
Brian Lanier emphasizes his patients receive personalized service at Promina, and he accepts both individual and employer membership clients.
 
He said patients appreciate the model, which Lanier likens to memberships offered at gyms and fitness centers.
 
“It’s estimated there is $700 billion a year in waste, so it’s just a no-brainer. Someone is going to come along to disrupt these [ideas],” Lanier said. “It sounds too good to be true, but the truth is the system is too bad to be true.”
 
Lanier is founder of Promina Health, a family medical practice at 1606 Physicians Drive, Suite 102 that opened in July. The direct primary care model offered by Lanier’s practice is based on a monthly membership cost rather than billing insurance.
 
Lanier estimates there are between 700 and 800 direct primary carebased practices in the U.S. The model has “considerably lower overhead than the typical practice and [is] not constrained by the administrative burden of filing claims,” he said.
 
“Promina Health’s aim is to work directly with Wilmington employers to focus their health care dollars on what it should be doing – caring for their employees – rather than being wasted,” Lanier said in a recent release.
 
As of December, Promina Health continues to grow. Lanier said there are about 90 members, primarily individuals. He is also turning his focus toward employers.
 
“For too long, employers have been pouring money down a black hole and accepting double-digit premium increases in exchange for lower performance. Businesses wouldn’t tolerate this from other suppliers, but it’s become the norm with health care,” Lanier said.
 
The health care system as it exists “does not focus on the patient,” Lanier said. “What people want is someone who has the time to talk with them.”
 
It takes time for employers to offer the direct primary care option because of the way benefit plans are structured. Wilmington-area businesses are listening, Lanier said.
 
“Right now employers are not managing [health care] with the same vigor than they have the rest of the business,” but better benefit structures are available, Lanier said.
 
“What we are seeing is a range of folks who really want to be on the cutting edge over their competition,” he said.
 
Different kinds of membership plans are available from $20 per month for children to $74 for those ages 65 and older. The monthly cost for many adults is $60. Office visits are free under all plans.
 
Lanier is a Marine veteran who enlisted in 2001 after 9/11 and was inspired to go into the medical field through a doctor who cared for him in the service. He is a 2014 graduate of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and did his residency in family medicine at New Hanover Regional Medical Center.
 
Lanier learned about the direct primary care model in his second year of medical school.
 
“Our practice does not contract with any third-party payers, meaning we will not submit any bills on your behalf. Paying for primary care [that] way makes it fantastically expensive and frustrating for everyone,” Lanier said in a news release.
 
Lanier is the only physician currently working at the practice, but said as additional patients are added, he expects to hire more board-certified doctors.
 
Lanier said he firmly believes that direct primary care practices like the one he opened in Wilmington represent the wave of the future.
 
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