John Collier’s mission is nothing less than changing and improving the way health care is delivered.
He founded Proactive MD to be a catalyst for that change.
“Health care impacts us all, and health care as we know it is broken,” says Collier, CEO of the company he founded in 2016.
“When patients get the transformative primary care they deserve, and health care providers are empowered to practice medicine the way they trained, patients’ lives are changed.”
Headquartered in Simpsonville, Proactive MD partners primarily – but not exclusively – with large companies and organizations that face the rising costs of health care and health insurance for their employees.
Some of Proactive MD’s clients might have a health center on-site. Others might direct their employees to a facility nearby.
Locally, the City of Mauldin and the City of Simpsonville together contracted with Proactive MD to provide employees with unlimited access to a broad scope of primary care, including on-site labs, prescriptions and patient advocacy, for a flat monthly fee paid by the cities.
Collier spent 15 years in health care administration before striking out on his own.
“I worked closely with employers and began to understand how the rising costs of care were crippling organizations. I saw an opportunity to help drive down costs while helping to improve health care,” he says.
Today, Proactive MD operates in 17 states with more than 70 health care centers, including nine in the Upstate – and plans to keep growing. While the Proactive MD model is designed to contain costs for larger companies, some health centers offer programs to small businesses and individuals.
The company’s approach – and key to its success, Collier says – is providing “advanced primary care” to meet patients’ physical and emotional needs.
“We treat the whole patient,” Collier says. “True primary care is the engine. If we can empower the primary care system to help employers, who are bearing a lot of financial risk, we can bring down health care costs and make their people healthier and more productive.”
Physicians with Proactive MD expand the boundaries of what most primary care physicians are able to provide.
Proactive MD’s primary care includes the treatment of chronic conditions (asthma, high blood pressure, or depression); preventative care (flu vaccines or cancer screenings); acute care (diagnosing a sinus infection, stitching a cut, or prescribing medications); and procedures (skin biopsies, diagnostic blood tests, or applying splints).
A patient’s first appointment might last an hour, and each doctor will see only 16 patients each day – while physicians working in a traditional model might see 30 to 40 patients per day, according to Proactive MD’s research.
Patients also can book same-day appointments.
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“When we look at our patients, we see mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, sisters and brothers, and they are at the center of all we do,” Collier says.
“What care would I want for my daughter?” he asks, rhetorically. “I challenge my teams to strive for “The Harper Standard of Care,” a term named for one of his three children.
Health care is personal for Collier. He’d wanted to be a doctor since childhood and was pursuing that goal when his father was diagnosed with metastatic colon cancer at only 50 years old.
“My family saw first-hand how complex our health care system is and how hopeless it can feel,” he says.
The Colliers sought out talented specialists, but it was a primary care physician who restored the family’s hope and helped them navigate the complexities of medical care. “This doctor said, ‘I don’t have all of the answers, but I will stand beside you and guide you through this to get the best care possible.’”
The experience changed Collier’s career path – and his perspective about the role of a primary care physician.
“That’s the power of primary care. Everything at Proactive MD goes back to the patient promise: We are only and always for the patient. We promise to fight for our patients’ greatest good,” Collier says.
After his father’s illness, Collier left his pre-med studies and earned master’s degrees in Business Administration and Health Administration.
In school and working in the field, the self-described “health care nerd” honed his vision for better and more accessible medical care at less cost.
“Our model expands access to high-quality care,” Collier says. “Working with companies to make their health care benefits more efficient allows us to serve a diverse patient population. We are uniquely positioned to have a profound impact on our patients and their families.”
A large company, he says, will save millions of dollars in health care costs with Proactive MD.
Proactive MD can lower costs by collecting and analyzing data nationwide and within a specific company, studying trends, then making those resources available to the care team. They can use the information to provide tailored care and wellness programs.
That research also helps physicians find specialists when patients need them.
“If you need heart surgery, we’ll get you to the best heart surgeon in the country, and we’ll be there for you when you get back home,” Collier says. “We take a quarterback approach to care. We’re at the center of the coordination, supporting the patient pre-surgery, during surgery, and post-surgery.”
The primary care physician, staff and advocates are available to patients during their “most vulnerable moments,” he says.
Regardless of the client’s needs, or how much Proactive MD grows, Collier says he aims to stick to his initial mission: Care Without Compromise.
“We set a culture, a common vision – which is our patient promise. At the end of the day, it’s truly about helping people and caring for them. That’s what keeps me up at night. I fiercely defend that culture. I want our physicians to administer care with the same passion they felt when writing their essays to apply to medical school. That’s why we do what we do,” he said.
“There’s a better way to do health care. We love our community. And family medicine is all about the community. We are here to serve.”