Pediatricians are Advocates for Children

 Adam Torres and Chelsea Johnson discuss pediatrics and technology.

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Show Notes:

Pediatricians are advocates for children. They are in the best position to provide expert care due to their specific training, as well as to have a seat at the table, where all decisions are made regarding children’s health and well-being. In this episode, Adam Torres interviewed Chelsea Johnson, MD, FAAP, Founder of Concierge Care Pediatrics. Explore Concierge Care Pediatrics, along with the upcoming book Chelsea will launch with Mission Matters.

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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

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 mission matters.com and click on Be Our Guest to Apply. All right, so today is a very special episode we brought on Dr. Chelsea Johnson.

She is the founder of. Concierge Care, pediatrics, and I’m happy and proud to announce that Chelsea will be an author in one of our upcoming books, or I should say our next upcoming book. So first off, hey, I just wanna say welcome Chelsea. Thank you for having me. All right, so we, we got, we got a lot to talk about today.

We’ll talk about the book just briefly because of course we’ll be bringing you back on the show and we’ll do a deep dive into the book later when it’s actually out and live. But definitely wanna go more into concierge care, pediatrics, and really your story, how you got started, and really your vision for your company.

But before we do all that Start this episode the way that we start them all with our mission matters minute. So, Chelsea, we at Mission Matters. We amplify stories for entrepreneurs, executives, and experts. That’s our mission. Chelsea, what mission matters to you? My life is about kids. I am a pediatrician for the past 20 years, and I have known I’ve wanted to be a doctor since I was 12.

So my passion is trying to do the best to take care of kids, and I have found that right now my passion is doing it within my own company and my own space so that I can do, deliver the care that I want with the new unique care deliveries that are available since the Covid Pandemic. . Yeah, it’s great.

And it’s, it’s great having ya and looking forward to learning more about, about how you’re doing exactly what you’re doing in your practice. But I guess just to get us kicked off, so you, you mentioned always wanted to work with kids you became a pediatrician. Like how did the, the entrepreneurship side of things, like how did all of that kind of weave its way into your, your life as well?

Well, I did not know that I was an entrepreneurial at heart. Mm-hmm. . However, I did have a very thoughtful coach. Reframe some of my history and where I have been in a way that reminded me that maybe I am entrepreneurial. My role has been at the same academic health center for 20 years, but within those 20 year time period, I had the opportunity to be the first general pediatrician and a subspecialty role for four.

Yeah, and I loved it and it opened the door for other general pediatricians to work in other subspecialty departments. I also was on a startup team for a brand new urgent care center that was being built and got to participate in what it’s like to Develop the processes and policies and schedules for a new urgent care center in the area.

And I was lucky enough to be a part of a transition team that took a different urgent care center within the same academic institution that transitioned into a community emergency department. And it’s not something that happens every day. So it was a very unique experience to what it’s like to go from urgent care to emergency medicine and, and all of the trials and tribulations that go into making those changes happen so we can take care of more kids that have a higher acuity need.

And then when our hospital decided that we were going to do some direct to patient telemedicine, I jumped at the chance to be able to do that. And I think that was ultimately what led me on the path to where I am. Yeah, it, it’s a great story and, and it’s a great reminder and I, I love I, I love, kind of like when I have a, a doctor or somebody that’s, you know, very specialized and has, you know, a lot of education behind them also giving their input and their slant on, you know, the entrepreneurial journey.

Because sometimes I feel like it gives others that are in your position or that, you know, have held you know, similar roles to. Freedom to think, huh? Wait a minute. Like, maybe I have some ideas or maybe I, I have some things that I wanna do as well. So I, I think it’s pretty liberating. I agree with you.

It is liberating. So Chelsea I want to talk about the book today. We’ll talk about it again, very high level because we’re going to, we’re going to again, bring you back on the show once the book’s actually live and out, and then we’ll do a deep dive in the writing. And I know subject matter can change in editing and otherwise, but high level, like what are some of the things that you hope to to propose in the upcoming book?

I am a pediatrician and I do speak, speak for children. Mm-hmm. As we all do. And I think as I’ve left academic medicine and have been able to go out and work at some different startups and work with other physicians and healthcare providers that also take care of children, I realize that we are in a very unique position, that we are the experts that anybody that knows anything about children have learned them from pediatricians in their own.

Training programs that is the pediatricians that train you on how to take care of kids. And I think that that puts us in a unique position in not only in the healthcare for kids, but when it comes to education for kids, when it comes to dealing with what’s going on in the school system and, and policies.

when it comes to how we’re going to provide social programs for kids within our government realm. And when it comes to developing pharmaceuticals and medical devices for kids, I think pediatricians should be at the decision making table because we have a unique perspective on how to do this better for children.

Hmm. And so bringing us to Brandon, I’m gonna leave that there and we’re gonna jump around a bit because I do have plenty of questions for you on that, but not yet. That’ll be for another time. But I want to I wanna jump around a bit, as I mentioned, and I wanna go further into concierge care pediatrics.

So your, your current your current company. What led you to, to found. I worked in a pediatric emergency department for a number of years, and I always felt like after the mom or dad had already had a lot of thoughts and interactions with people before getting to the er. Mm-hmm. The decision to show up in the ER is a very difficult one for parents because they don’t know.

if something needs to be seen urgently or if it can wait. And so parents love their children and they wanna make sure they’re taking good care of them in the air, on the side of caution and, and end up in the er many times. I wanted to be at, at some time at the front end to be able to be the pediatrician that sees the child in the moment.

The parent says, I don’t know. What should we do? And to be able to say, I hear you. Let me tell you what you could. , it’s even better when you can do it while they’re still at home in their own safe space, so they don’t have to go out to try and find that that expert opinion or recommendation. Mm-hmm.

And so when I left academic medicine, it was to get some better foundational footing and expertise in telemedicine. Working at some different startups, doing some consulting work until I felt comfortable that I am ready to start a pediatric telemedicine company. Mm-hmm. , where I can meet kids where they are and develop and deliver the care that they need.

And provide parents with peace of mind care so that they feel like they’re taking good care of their kids without all the inconvenience of travel and appointments. Mm-hmm. and not being in the place where they wanna. . Yeah. And so e every entrepreneur, regardless of niche industry, otherwise when they’re founding a company and, and taking that idea, and then making it a reality are always, there’s always, you know, the ups and downs, the surprises, everything in between, right.

That, that’s what being an entrepreneur entrepreneur is. Anything that surprised you kind of along the way so far as you kind of, as you’ve gotten the company? I, you definitely get to dig deep into, I don’t know what I don’t know. Yeah. And as you start developing the company and get into the weeds of what does it actually take to make this happen?

Mm-hmm. , there is a lot that as clinicians, we are trained to be really good at taking care of kids. What we don’t have a lot of training on is the business side of starting a company. Mm-hmm. The marketing, the finance. Making some of these network connections and I’m in a technology focused area where technology and digital health are so enmeshed that I have to learn a lot about that part of it too.

Mm-hmm. , regardless of all of the compliance issues and licensing Yeah. And everything else that goes into just being a physician. It’s truly been a very steep learning curve about all the other aspects of starting a business. I’ve enjoyed it so much. Can you tell us a little bit more about the, the kind of ecosystem that you’re creating for parents?

I know at Root right, it’s telehealth as, as you started the company, but like the ecosystem and your vision for maybe where the company goes going forward. . Yes. I believe in unique and innovative healthcare delivery. Mm-hmm. . And I think that digital health and telemedicine are the next steps forward.

And Covid did a lot to support that movement of being able to provide care this way. So starting off, I provide home and travel telemedicine. So if parents need care in the home, Or if they’re traveling on vacation and their pediatrician is not available because they don’t carry those state licenses.

Yeah. Then a trusted pediatrician with concierge care pediatrics can con take care of your child for through sickness and injury when you’re away on travel, and then when you come back home and you can get back in with your pediatrician and check in to make sure everything did do okay. Mm-hmm. . I also hope that beyond that we’ll also add digital devices so that we.

expand the physical exam so that we can listen to heart and lungs and look in the ears, which are so important for parents because ear infections are so common and they wanna get these taken care of promptly because a, a miserable child with an earache is not fun to have at all. The next step then is to develop a mobile unit to make house calls for those new parents that don’t want their their.

Exposed in pediatric offices to potential illnesses for those that just don’t have transportation to get to a doctor’s office. And then ultimately I wanna have my own pediatric urgent care center for those few things that require in-person care, including procedures and to provide an ecosystem of a multiple different ways and opportunities and options for parents to seek care for their children, to make it more convenient care when they need the.

Yeah. I think it’s a great concept, and I think one of the big, one of the big themes or things that that definitely play into your model and, and your model supports is, is really healthcare access and, and equity. Right. Maybe talk to us a little bit more about the, about the problem and how the, and how that plays out.

With, with, in regards to healthcare really. Well, we recognize that Covid uncovered a lot of problems with our healthcare system and the inequities to accessing care. But we as physicians and healthcare providers recognize this long before Covid and it has. So much to do with zip codes and so much to do with social determinants of health.

And it has so much to do with the people’s ability to get to where the doctor is. And many places are rural and do not have access to either a pediatrician or a a specialist. Sometimes you can’t get to the doctor’s office. Because you’re working during that time and your employer doesn’t let you out of work, and so your options become fewer and fewer, and this is why the ER becomes such a default mechanism because you know you can get care there.

You know they have op op opportunity for lab and x-ray and the subspecialist if it is needed. , but we recognize, and parents don’t choose that because they think they’re obligated to go there, but that is the easiest and most convenient way. And so we’re looking to provide better access for parents.

Mm-hmm. In the moment. Access and to have a doctor go back to making house calls is, I think, really important to recognize that. I think we’re ready to come back around to that when the, when the need is necessary. Mm-hmm. And when. Have a place where you need to go. It’s an urgent care or a primary care office.

It’s definitely gonna be more affordable and a better option so that we keep the, the the sick kids and the, the injured kids in the ER getting emergency care where they need it, and we can allow other families to go to other places to get top quality care that doesn’t require going through the emergency.

Yeah. And I think one of the in our conversations, you know, off the air that, that we’ve had in one of the central themes and kind of, I guess misconceptions is that, you know, kids are not little adults, right? They require something different than our, than our current, than than the same care, the same methods, the same procedures that, you know, that adults would go through in these types of situations.

Can you maybe speak on that a little? Oh, you bet. As a pediatrician going through residency and our training programs, it’s a mantra that we learned as, as kids are not small adults. Mm-hmm. , their, their bodies are, are different and they’re different at every age and every stage because all the normal things that we associate with adults where it comes to drug dosing or what your heart rate should be or what your blood pressure to.

That changes over time within the same child as they grow and develop. And so pediatricians are very cognizant that depending on how old you are your vital sign changes, your weight and height changes, and being able to keep up of what is normal and abnormal for that child is that special place for pediatricians thrive in.

And we recognize. What is normal for adults may not be normal for kids. So when they’re developing pharmaceuticals or devices, they usually start with the, in the adult space. and not include children in that research side so that these products can be FDA approved for, for children. And so we need more of that, where the products are coming out specifically designed mm-hmm.

for children based on their physiology and their anatomy. And that’s one of the things I think it’s important to recognize from, not just that they’re little people, but mm-hmm. , they’re so unique from adults. and can you speak on maybe the the idea of the pediatrician having a, cuz I, I know one of the things you do as well, obviously you’ve been a doctor for a long time.

You, you’re, you’re an entrepreneur, but you’re also an advocate for the industry and for kids on, on all different levels. So the, the idea of the pediatricians having a seat at the table because they are the best qualified and able to have these discussions and to advise in terms of. You know, what’s best for children.

Can you talk a little bit more about having really a seat at the table and what that means? You bet. As a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics I have been fortunate to participate in a number of public policy conferences to help as a pediatrician advocate on behalf of children.

In our local Missouri chapter, I’ve been able to participate in going to our, our state house or going to the capitol and meeting with representatives to speak for the children on their behalf because children don’t have a vote and they don’t get to contribute to the coffers for any of the politicians.

So instead, as a pediatrician, we speak for them to make sure that they’re not forgotten when they’re making public. Same thing when it comes to making medical devices. I think pediatricians should be consulted when they’re going to be used for children. I have two boys that have dyslexia and I was part of the task force in my state to develop some of the dyslexia laws and I had to advocate to be a pediatrician at the table because there wasn’t one initially.

I said that we should be, because we partner with schools, we partner with parents we are a common link and a place, a trusted resource for our parents and kids to go to, to get information and to figure out how to do. Things better. So I have been a, a pretty staunch dyslexia advocate for parents and children’s in the school districts as well.

Wonderful. Well, Chelsea, I have to say it has been great having you on the show. I’m, I’m excited and thrilled to to work on this upcoming book with you. So we’re, it’s still still in development for everybody watching, but again, as I mentioned, we’ll be bringing Chelsea back on the show when it is actually live.

But that being said, I just have to ask what’s next? What’s next for you? What’s next for your. . Well now we’re, we’ve started home and travel telemedicine, we are going to be partnering with school districts to provide school-based telemedicine. Mm-hmm. so parents don’t have to leave work and kids don’t have to leave school in order to get healthcare.

And not only does that work for the child and the parent, but schools need students to have their butts in seats in order to get the reimbursement and the money that they need to continue educating children. So I’m really, really looking forward to some partnerships with school districts to be able to provide that kind of care for kids to keep them in school.

Ah, that’s wonderful. Love to hear the story. I excited to continue to watch it unfold. Chelsea, if somebody wants to learn more about concierge care, pediatrics and follow your story what’s the best way for them to do. Sure we have a website, concierge care pediatrics.com. We are in the process of updating it so that we’re gonna be adding our online scheduling for telemedicine visits there over the next couple of weeks.

And we do have a Facebook page, concierge Care Pediatrics. Wonderful, and we’ll put all that information, the show notes so that our, our audience can just click on the links and head right on over. And speaking of the audience, if this is your first time with Mission Matters or listening to a Mission Matters episode robot, bringing on business owners, entrepreneurs, executives, and experts, and having them share.

Their mission, the reason behind their mission, really why they do what they do, how they’re doing it, and what we can all learn and gain from that, so that we can all grow. And that’s the, that’s the whole point of mission matters is for us all to learn together and to grow together. If that’s a type of content that sounds interesting or fun or exciting or engaging to you.

Hit that subscribe button because we have many more mission-based individuals coming up on the line and we don’t want you to miss a thing. And Chelsea, really it has been a pleasure. Thanks again for coming on the show and until the next time we get to work with each other, it was a pleasure. Thank you for having me.