Wise, VA (June 11, 2018) – For Starla Kiser, opening her own medical practice has been a long-held dream, ever since the Dickenson County native was in medical school at Harvard. That dream came true in December 2017 as she opened Healios Health Center in Wise, Va., and began to implement a new direct primary care model unique to the area.
She was assisted in April when she applied for and received a $10,000 Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) seed capital matching grant for the business which is located in the Wise industrial building.
“Through our Seed Capital Matching Grant program, we were pleased to be able to assist Dr. Kiser with the funding she was seeking to continue to grow her new business,” said VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher.
Kiser noted that in her practice, she sees all ages — from infants to geriatrics — but unlike most medical clinics, the model she has implemented is one that seeks to make medical care more affordable, especially for those without insurance and for those with high-deductible insurance plans. Instead of paying by the doctor visit and by the test, Healios accepts monthly memberships. For a set monthly fee, patients who are members may see the doctor as often as needed during the month, have in-office diagnostic tests performed, minor procedures completed in the office and on top of that, 24/7 access to the doctor.
Kiser said she has found that even patients with great insurance value those amenities, especially the ability to spend more time with the physician and the increased access to care through things like text messaging and virtual visits with the doctor.
“It means a lot to me that VCEDA selected to fund Healios,” Kiser said. “It’s allowing us to buy new software and iPads to be used for check-in which will make us more efficient and it’s allowing us to remodel our space.”
She credited Tim Blankenbecler with the Small Business Development Center office at Mountain Empire Community College with helping her to get her business plan developed and to complete the application process to VCEDA. Wise County Industrial Development Authority Director Carl Snodgrass also helped her to find the clinic space.
Prior to opening her own practice, Kiser worked in global health in different countries, but remained proud of her Appalachian roots and felt the desire to return to the mountains and a rural healthcare setting which is what lead her back to Southwest Virginia.
She attended medical school at Harvard University, where she received a medical degree and earned a Masters Degree in Public Administration at the Harvard Kennedy School, studying international development and health policy. She did her residency training at Boston Children’s Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She is board-certified in both Internal Medicine and Pediatrics. She has done work in global health, primary care, and service delivery innovation, in Tanzania, Kenya, South Sudan, and India. While she was working in India, she came upon the model for Healios and once back in the United States, began to build her own version of it.
She holds contracts with several small businesses to care for their employees and accepts walk-ins as well.
“We are accepting new patients now,” she said. “With this model we are able to streamline healthcare based on cost transparency,” she said. What services are free and which ones have costs associated with them are detailed and patients know up front what their costs are.”
We pass on our savings to our patients,” she continued. “We make relationships with wholesale medication providers, imaging centers and diagnostic labs and charge our patients the discounted rates passed on to us,” Kiser said. “We cut out insurance companies and third party payers to make preventive and primary care less expensive and higher quality.”
What’s best about the Healios model, she said, is the ability for her as the physician to spend time with patients listening to their concerns and getting to know them better.
“Our patients feel like they’ve been heard and we can often get to the root of the problem which may involve lifestyle changes,” she said. “Patients like that and they like that I am accessible when needed. They can call. They can email. They can text. I’m here 24/7.”
For more information, interested persons may visit the Healios website at www.healioshealth.co or call the health center at (276) 212-1863.
About Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority and Virginia’s e-Region: The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority, created by the Virginia General Assembly in 1988 to enhance and diversify the region’s economy and help create jobs, markets Virginia’s e-Region and its focus on electronic information technology, energy, education and emerging technologies. VCEDA is a unique economic development organization that manages funds for economic development projects from a percentage of the coal and natural gas severance taxes paid by coal and natural gas companies that operate in the region. Located in southwestern Virginia, the region includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties and the City of Norton. www.vaceda.org or www.e-Region.org