Adam Torres and Chelsea Johnson discuss the pediatric ecosystem.
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It takes a healthcare ecosystem to deliver pediatric care to children. In this episode, Adam Torres interviewed Chelsea Johnson, MD, FAAP, Founder of Concierge Care Pediatrics. Explore the pediatrics ecosystem Chelsea is creating and her book, Mission Matters: World’s Leading Entrepreneurs Reveal Their Top Tips To Success (Business Leaders Edition Vol. 10).
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About Chelsea Johnson
Seasoned physician executive with 20+ years’ broad clinical experience. Dedicated to innovative care delivery and leveraging the power of digital health to improve healthcare and patient lives.
Founder, Concierge Care Pediatrics Telemedicine | Experienced Academic Pediatrician | Digital Health and Telemedicine | Physician Women’s Leadership
Strategic and patient-focused leader with broad clinical experience and demonstrated success in operations, resulting in rapid scaling of telemedicine programs in a large academic medical center and an app-based telemedicine company. Highly motivated to improve processes and outcomes, while ensuring first-class service for patients and families. Recognized for collaborating across organizational boundaries, thriving in fast-paced environments, and establishing the delivery of high-quality, evidence-based care in traditional and innovative settings. High acumen for initiating and cultivating relationships with patients, staff, and local healthcare partners.
About Concierge Care Pediatrics, LLC
A pediatric acute care telemedicine service for parents that don’t have time for sick days. Delivers the care the children need, while providing peace of mind and care for parents. They office home and travel as well as school-based telemedicine.
Full Unedited Transcript
Hey, I’d like to welcome you to another episode of Mission Matters. My name is Adam Torres. And if you’d like to apply to be a guest in the show, just head on over to missionmatters. com and click on be our guest to apply. All right. So today’s a special episode. We’re bringing back Chelsea Johnson under the show.
Let me tell you, we got a celebration going on today. We finally have released our business leaders book. It’s been, I don’t know, a year in the making. For those of you that haven’t caught the previous episodes. Chelsea is the founder of concierge care pediatrics. Chelsea, Hey, just want to start off.
Welcome back to the show. Adam, it’s great to be back with you. Oh my gosh. We we’ve been on this journey for quite some time now for anybody out there. That’s an author or that’s ever put together a book or a book project. You know, it’s not, it’s not easy and it takes some time. So I just got to say, Hey, first off, how do you feel?
I feel fabulous. It’s something I can check off my to do list. It’s been really exciting. The journey has been real. And I’m so glad to have gotten over the big hump and looking forward to sharing with everybody. I know. Yeah. And and now the fun part, like I like to say, the promo book’s done. Now we get to talk about it.
So we’ll be doing a lot of that today, along with, of course, talking about the ecosystem, really, that you’re building. For, for parents surrounding pediatrics and we’ll get into that as well, but you already know the drill as a, as a, as a longtime guest, we’ll start this episode, the way that we start them all with what we call our mission matters minute.
So we at mission matters, we amplify stories for entrepreneurs, executives, and experts. That’s our mission. Chelsea, what mission matters to you?
I am all about making sure that kids get the right care at the right time at the right place. And I want to make sure that we create the best world possible to make sure our kids are healthy, happy and safe. Ah, it’s fantastic. I love bringing mission based individuals on the line to share why they do what they do, their expertise, and really what we can all learn and gain from that as well.
So we all grow together. That’s The whole point of the platform. So just, I guess, diving right in here. As before we go into the book, the, you know, everything else we’re going to talk about, of course, along your business as well, maybe go into your background a little bit, just so the audience knows a little bit more about you to kind of set, set the stage.
So how did you get on this path? Thank you. I’m happy to share. I spent most of my childhood planning to be a doctor. And finally, by the time I got that chance, I became a pediatrician. And then I kind of lost that. That motivational drive and setting goals for what I was going to do next. And so I spent a couple of decades doing a little bit of this and a little bit of that and getting a lot of experience and exposure.
And then I think COVID, when it hit really became a springboard for me to figure out what is it I’m going to do. I got the chance to participate on a hospital wide level of advancing telemedicine in the… Institution I worked at. I got to do a lot of really great things working with some wonderful people across the enterprise, and it certainly provided me the opportunity to decided I needed to leave academic medicine and go out and pursue telemedicine the way I wanted to do it.
And that started my journey to It’s my own company and concierge care pediatrics. It’s great. It’s a great story. And I know also, as you’ve kind of been on this journey and we’ve caught up you’re also doing some consulting now and working with another some other organizations, I think auto next nexus is one maybe tell us a little bit more about that as well.
Yeah, I think I feel like since I left academic medicine, I have been able to do a whole lot of new things that I didn’t have opportunities for. I was a full time clinician at the time. And so one of the things that I get to do is I get to travel around the country and provide care to kids in different environments.
I work in rural hospitals. I work in. Pediatric health centers on the coasts. I get to work urgent cares. But I’m really excited with the work that I get to do with Otonexus. It’s a startup pediatric medical device company out of Seattle, Washington. And I met up with them when I was working at a telehealth company a couple years ago.
And they are… designing an ultrasound based otoscope that allows the pediatrician to be able to accurately and reliably diagnose ear infections, and more importantly, to differentiate viral from bacterial ear infections. So, they are solving the problem of unnecessary antibiotic therapy in the treatment of middle ear infections.
And I wanted to be a part of that. I’m very passionate around antibiotic stewardship. And I had gone back and asked if I, in some ways, could help them, provide some value to them. Because I really wanted to forward their mission. And so I’ve been a consultant with them for the past year and It has been wonderful to work with some amazing leaders.
It is a female led company. I’ll give a shout out to Caitlin Cameron. I have a lot of appreciation and respect for the role that she has and the job that she’s doing. It is a company that gets a lot of awards and accolades for being the best places to work in Washington. And I can see it from the inside that it is a wonderful place to work and people to work with.
Yeah. And so now that you’ve been, you’ve kind of, you wear a lot of hats first off and we all do, but you wear a lot of hats. And now that you’re also wearing this entrepreneurial hat and this consulting hat, like that, that transition, obviously you’re an expert in your field. That’s a given, but talk a little bit more about how that, how, how that transition has taken place because it’s not always easy.
And I know, and the reason I asked this question, by the way, is I know there’ll be some some other like highly trained individuals, whether they’re doctors or lawyers or, you know, individuals that went to school for a long time, gaining a deep knowledge in their specialty to be able to do what they do who maybe sometimes hold back a little when it comes to thinking about, you know, it doesn’t mean there’s, they have to do a pivot, but like adding some.
Entrepreneurial tools to their, you know, to what they’re doing or adding some other value in other ways. So that’s why I asked you that question. Maybe talk a little bit about that journey to entering into the entrepreneurship side of what you do. Well, one of the things that I decided when I left academic medicine was I didn’t necessarily want to have to work for another employer.
I wanted to be the employer and I wanted to build the culture that I wanted to work in and I wanted to build the culture that I felt I was missing. And so. Some of my travels involve being able to see other company cultures and how they work and finding what I like and what I don’t like about them so that I can be a better physician leader within my own company.
I Also have the opportunity to see a lot of different technologies that are out there so I can figure out what, how I want to implement that into my company. And with that, I decided that in order to do this, I felt I was at a complete disadvantage. I was just a clinician for 20 years, that’s all I knew how to do.
So I spent two years and I got my my MBA here in the Missouri area. And I met some great people. I have great people in my class and networking. I was in the entrepreneurial scholars program for two semesters where I really got to meet with a bunch of great mentors to help me with my business ideas.
Some great classmates that we share some commonality and groundwork where we can help each other lift up our businesses And so that really helped me to get into the spirit of what it means to be an entrepreneur You have to take risks and you have to realize that you don’t know everything about it But you’re willing to learn, or you’re willing to surround yourself with people that have these expertise.
And that’s probably the best thing that I’ve learned is, I’ve run into some great people that are great in their field. And they assist me to get to where I want to go so that I can help take care of children in the way that I think is best. Well said, and I love it. I love the fact that in your process, I mean, cause a lot of people have different processes.
First off, some people just, just, you know, jump off the cliff. I like, I like to say that’s how I word it and they just dive in and then there’s others like yourself. Self who take that methodical approach, really learn, really go down the line. I mean, there’s a lot of different ways to, to slice entrepreneurship.
So I’m I’m, I’m, I’m grateful to hear your perspective on it as well. Let’s let’s switch it up a bit. I do wanna spend some time talking about the book and of course, that the content that you contributed. So I’ll start off by reading the title and then also. So go to a couple of the sections that you have in there.
Then we can do a little bit of a deeper dive. But first off the title. So putting kids first, leveraging pediatric telemedicine for a healthier, a healthier future, and then some, some of the headings in there. So the case for better triage for parents blazing a trail. leaning into telemedicine shifting digital landscape, putting people first at concierge pediatric care and the future of pediatric medicine.
So I guess, first off, Chelsea, a lot of different angles that you could have come at this content with and approached it because you have a lot of, a lot of different angles you could have done. Why this topic? Why now? Well, I think so much of our stories are about our authentic selves and our how we saw ourselves going through it.
And so a lot of this was my struggles with figuring out what my, what my purpose in life was. I spent so much time just getting to be a doctor. that once I was a doctor, I didn’t continue to set goals for myself for a number of years. And when I finally understood that, and I, I spent some time working with some professional business coaches for executives.
And the head of the company that I worked with, he sat down with me on a call and I was going through some of my struggles about why I was where I was and where I wanted to be. And he said, well, it seems like you’ve been an entrepreneur this whole time. Yeah. You’ve been the first physician to do some of these things in some of these environments.
You’ve gone on and pretty much every role you’ve had has been something new and different that hasn’t been done before. You’ve been an entrepreneur this whole time. And I thought about it from that perspective and it was a completely different perspective than what I had internalized this whole time.
And it really turned the switch for me to say. You’re right. I just have to see what I have done differently and realize what is holding me back was the environment that I was trying to work in and I decided that the environment I was in was too slow. The cogs in the wheels just didn’t work fast enough for what I wanted to accomplish.
And I just needed to change my environment. And so that’s what I did. I took a leap. I left a 20 year career without an exit plan. Yeah, I just know I’m going to go do something different. I’m going to do telemedicine the way I want it to be done. And it took a lot of bravery and a lot of risk to do it.
And I did it. It took three months of Job search and looking what was going on out there during the height of COVID when nobody was going to in person care and trying to find out that next first job and I just wanted a job so I could keep making my mortgage payment. But once I was able to secure that, I was in a much better position to start thinking about what it is I really wanted coming next.
And that’s where my journey did for these past three years. Yeah, it’s such a great story. And it’s just a testament to, to entrepreneurship and individuals that are looking to kind of push the boundaries in their space and really add value. So I want to, I want to pick off at least one of these things here.
And kind of maybe build out the, the case for care here. So the case for better triage for parents. So maybe talk to tee this up, maybe talk a little bit about. the current situation in care specifically relating to pediatrics and where you saw a lot of opportunity or for growth and where you found a lot of opportunity for a better way for parents to, to get care for their kids.
Sure. I mean, anybody that’s a parent knows that everything about your kid comes first and especially with new parents, it’s hard to know what to do and when it’s urgent and how much you can wait in the care of your kids because as every parent has said, I just don’t want to wait. I want to know I better to be safe than sorry.
And as a parent myself, we’ve got five kids that we’re raising and I felt the same way, like how, how quickly do I need to get care for my kids? And as pediatric offices are required to have these 10 and 15 minute appointments in order to be able to have a lifestyle and a living because the, the pay that we get back from insurance companies is so low, it’s almost difficult to even make money off of keeping your own shingle on your roof up when you’re trying to see so many patients.
But that also means that there’s no room for last minute sick visits. And when doctor’s offices aren’t open in the evenings, which so many kids, they get sick at night. I mean, fevers start in the evening, croup starts in the evening. So many of this is not, is not available to your physician. So that leaves you open to urgent cares and emergency departments, which can be very difficult to get a hold of if you don’t live in a region that has access to a lot of other care environments and you don’t want to have to go to the ER if you don’t have an emergency.
But so many parents don’t understand. I don’t know if this is an emergency or not. I just want my kid to take taking care of. But now we’re having fragmented care. We’re having high cost of care. Parents are waiting hours and hours in an ER waiting room just trying to get their kiddo seen. And nobody wants to have to wait there in the middle of the night to get care, or on the weekends, or…
Even during the day because your pediatrician is not available. And so I’m looking for other opportunities for parents to find a more convenient, cost effective way to just, just tell me, is my kid going to be okay? And we have learned through COVID that telemedicine is a great additive to the way that we provide care for kids.
If a parent can just have a quick visit with the doctor so that they can see their child, especially if we have these added devices where we can look in eyes and ears and listen to heart and lungs, then we can have a much better idea of saying, Okay. You can wait until your doctor’s office opens up in two or three days or keep that appointment that you couldn’t get for today.
Everything’s going to be fine. Alternatively, if we see a really sick kid, when we’re doing a video conference call, we can certainly remind the parent that yes, you are right. Your child is sick and we need to proper care and I’m going to be that conduit that’s going to get you to that emergency care department, calling ahead to make sure they know you’re coming and make sure that you get there timely and safely so your kid knows what’s going on and you can get them the care they need.
And so I think that’s where telemedicine can be a great additive for those quick care times when parents don’t need to go to the ER. Maybe they can just get care quickly, conveniently from home because parents have to work and kids have to be in school. And so let’s keep them where they are as much as possible and not have all these long waits.
It’s great. And and some of, and one of the things that I know in, in pieces of content that I remember you for even from our first interviews is that, you know, kids are not little adults. So the concept that like, whether it’s in this ecosystem of individuals, that this is being designed by someone that’s.
pediatrician, like to me keeping all of that in mind is like, that’s the importance of this all, not, not everything you said, of course, but in addition to that is is really about the ecosystem, maybe from the entrepreneurial side or from the doctor’s side. I mean how do you see that? Like, tell us your vision for the ecosystem overall.
Well, I think that connected care is so important for kids. I am a part caring member of the American Academy of Pediatrics and I believe in the evidence based rationale that we have for how to get really great care for kids, including the medical home, which is Kids have a clinic base where they, they get all their care, their records are all there, they coordinate all the care that is needed.
And so you have that pediatrician that knows your child really well. When you go outside of that medical home, there’s an opportunity for fragmented care or the other providers don’t have access to your full medical record. The information doesn’t get back to your doctor’s office. So they know about all these different care that you had outside the medical home.
And so if we can make sure that we have connected care, so all of these records are shared easily and privately with the people that need it to provide care for your child. That’s really what we want with the with the information technology that’s being built. We also make sure that everyone Coordinates care and we get people, all of these kids back to their regular primary care pediatrician.
Telemedicine can be helpful, so either telemedicine that the doctor’s office offers. Or someone like myself where we offer that convenient telemedicine care when your doctor isn’t available to keep you out of the ER and urgent care. So it’s more cost effective and convenient. And then make sure that your doctor’s office has access to our records.
So they know what we talked about and what the care plan is and when to come back to the doctor to make sure everything’s turned out. Okay. I’m also hoping that I will be able to have a more of a mobile unit where if there are, Some of these instances where care cannot be completed with a telehealth visit, then an in person visit is necessary.
They will have the means to be able to go to that patient in their home or wherever they are and provide that in person care needed because parents need that convenience to not have to take off work leave the house in the middle of the night to go get the care that they need when a doctor or a nurse practitioner that’s trained in pediatrics can come right to the home and provide that care.
I think that that can really help parents make sure their kids get care without locking up all of the ERs because they need to take the time to see emergency care. Mm. That’s great. And, and looking at looking at how that ecosystem builds and and this isn’t obviously we would never talk negative about anybody, but what do you think some of the challenges are and, and kind of getting through to, is it just like, Preaching the message to others.
Is there like hurdles with working with different systems or other things? Like, what do you think are some of the challenges in creating that ecosystem? Well, anybody in healthcare knows there’s challenges everywhere and all the time. And, but everybody’s trying to fix those challenges arise to the patients.
Some of the big problems that we have is just an education piece of getting parents and physicians to understand. What telemedicine can offer how it can enhance the care that’s provided, that it can be a great way to have touch points with families in between well visits, which are after the age of three or annually.
So that smaller things don’t become bigger things, especially for those kids that have chronic medical needs. We want to keep them out of the hospital as well as the ER and if we could manage these patients a little bit more often, perhaps we can avoid some of those admissions and ER visits. Payers also need to remember that pediatricians are a specialty in and of themselves, but we are some of the lowest reimbursed physicians.
So it seems like our our society does not value the children who are our future and be able to pay the providers that’s going to keep them happy, healthy into adulthood so that they are productive members of society. We need to make sure that We recognize how important it is to take care of kids, and we still need pediatricians who will go into this field and be able to pay off that medical debt in order to continue to have this as a lifelong happy, satisfying career, because we’re seeing way too many pediatricians since COVID leave the medical field entirely, retire early, go part time, and as you know, 70 percent of pediatricians are women, And so we take a lot of the brunt of problems that go on in society, which is not having enough child care or having employers that allow us flexibility so that we can do family and career both, making sure that we have time off for for having our kids that maternity time away or even paternity time away because we need our, our the dads to be home with their kids as well.
And so when we struggle with some of these problems, we know that our families struggle with these problems as well. So, I’d like to say that pediatricians are the advocates for kids. We are the professional advocates in all areas where matters pertain to kids that pediatricians should be there, whether that’s in the school system, there should be a pediatrician that the schools lean on whenever there’s questions, concerns or issues regarding kids when it comes to big pharma and development of drugs specifically designed for kids.
So the research is for kids or even medical device companies like Otonexis, which is focused on pediatrics specifically. And so much of the time, the money and resources go to adult research. And then sometimes they will have some last minute or studies later for kids to prove that it also is helpful for kids.
But many times they rely on pediatricians just using it off label and not even spending the time, money resources to ensure that their products are safe for kids as well. So those are some of the areas where I think that I’d like to say that I’m trying to get involved with so I understand it better so that they can understand it from a pediatric standpoint as a physician, clinician, some of the hurdles that we have to overcome because somewhere in the middle, we have to have a meeting and that includes policy development so that we can make good policies for everybody involved is so that we can all take care of the kids of our future.
Well, Chelsea, I just have to say it has been so much fun working on this book with you and ed in educating myself. And hopefully my audience is getting a lot out of this as well, about some of the, some of the opportunity areas in pediatrics and some of the things in creating this. parent, this ecosystem for parents.
But that being said, I mean you know, I know you got a lot going on as it both as an entrepreneur, a consultant, a leader in the healthcare space. What’s next? I mean, what’s next for you? What’s next for concierge care pediatrics? Well, we are just growing getting our foothold in the Kansas City area and I, we also practice in 11 other states.
So when parents go on vacation or they’re traveling, they don’t have access to their doctor’s office. So if they have a trusted pediatrician that they know and love, well, then I can provide some of that care. And I’ve had to do that this summer. A lot of the families have been traveling, have forgot their inhalers in New York or.
in Chicago. And so they like not having to go to the ER to get a medication refill. And so that’s always been great for me. And I guess I’m getting into politics. So I’m looking to be a part of the Missouri State Board of Education. Congratulations. I didn’t know about that part. There’s always something going on here.
This is amazing. Well, I put my hat in and there’s there’s an opening at the state level and I had been very passionate about care for children in the state of Missouri. And I’m hoping that I can add a good new perspective for making sure that kids do really well in school. Oh, I’m sure you will.
This is great news. And I’m happy to happy to break the news on the show. Come on. If somebody is listening to this and they want to learn more to follow up and connect with you and your team, I mean, what’s the best way for them to do that? My website will be up and running next week. I have my grand opening for my new website that’s finishing up, but right now…
Hey, another congratulations. I knew you were busy. And for everybody watching or listening, by the way, it’s August 10th, so if you’re listening to that if you’re listening to this into the future obviously the site will be up in a week. I’m on Facebook and LinkedIn at Chelsea Johnson. And my my email address is kidsindy2 at gmail.
Ah, wonderful. Well we’ll, we’ll put, and we’ll put the links and all that good stuff into the show notes. And and so the audience can just head right on over and speak into the audience. If this is your first time with mission matters or engaging in an episode, we’re all about bringing on business owners, entrepreneurs, and executives and having them share their mission, the reason behind their mission, you know, why they do what they do.
And so we can all learn and grow and benefit. From that information together, if that’s the type of content that sounds interesting or fun or exciting to you, we welcome you hit that subscribe button. We have many more mission based individuals coming up on the line and we don’t want you to miss a thing.
Chelsea, again, as a pleasure is always working with you. I look forward to to continuing to promote this book with you and also your, your message and mission. So thanks again for coming on. Adam. It’s a pleasure. Thanks for having me.