Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Chris Larson, founder, and CEO of Euphora Health. Chris has locations at Austin and Cedar Park, TX, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Our business is Direct Primary Care. You can think of it as a healthcare membership that’s part Netflix, part Costco. It’s part Netflix in the sense that for an affordable monthly fee, everything’s included. You get full access to your doctor with no copays or other additional charges, no matter how much you use your membership. I’m available to spend extra time with you as needed, and I’m available by text, by phone, by videoconference, and in person.
Because Direct Primary Care means foregoing the insurance middle man and the motivation to be fully booked to get back as much reimbursement from insurance companies as possible, it frees me up to leave openings in my schedule. That means that if you have an acute issue, I can see you in a timely manner. Direct Primary Care is like Costco in the sense that since patients pay for a membership, we give them discounts on everything that we can. You get labs at wholesale pricing. Point-of-care tests like those for strep ($0) or the flu ($14) are free or very affordable. Like taking off an ingrown toenail or removing a skin lesion, other procedures are also included in every Euphora Health membership.
Our customers are individuals, small businesses, and large businesses. What gives me joy is that we’re able to provide people great care, and we do it in a very cost-effective manner. Guiding people towards the most cost-effective way to reach a healthcare goal makes my job meaningful. When I tell our patients what an x-ray or an MRI is going to cost, they breathe a sigh of relief because they realize that they can get the care that they need. Before, they may have thought that they just wouldn’t be able to afford it because it would cost multiple thousands of dollars. There are so many people in that boat who don’t have health insurance or have high-deductible health insurance. To take someone who felt that they couldn’t get great care or they can’t afford care at all and show them how they can do it - it feels good to be the guy to help with that.
Tell us about yourself
I have a degree in finance. I worked in investment banking for a while before moving on to options trading. This was right around the time that Enron blew up from a financial standpoint and dried up that market. I was a little dissatisfied with what I was doing. I thought back to my time at university when I was working with at-risk kids, volunteering. I wanted to marry my goal of helping others with a job that involved lifelong learning.
Right around the same time, there were some people close to me who were going through the healthcare system who had a lot of complaints about the type of care that they received. Because of that, I decided to go back to school to become a doctor. But I didn’t go to medical school and sacrifice ten years of my life to see thirty patients a day and know nothing about them other than their names. That’s what happens when you accept insurance as a primary care physician. Luckily, I found Direct Primary Care. It allows me to do the kind of work that I quit my finance job for, which is work that genuinely helps others.
What motivates me is being able to practice medicine the way I dreamt of doing it. I never take for granted that I’m able to give my patients even the basics, for example, not having to cut them off during their appointment due to time constraints, being able to listen to their full story, give them my full attention, and truly understand what’s going on before I make a diagnosis. And beyond that, I have enough time to consistently support my patients in making changes in their lives so that they can be less dependent on pharmaceuticals and surgeries. That motivates me. When people do need care from outside my office, to be able to be their healthcare concierge and help them navigate away from financial landmines motivates me as well.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I would say that there are two things I’m most proud of. One is the ability to expand my business. We’ve gone from one Central Austin location to two locations in Austin and Cedar Park, and both of these practices are still growing. We also have plans to open a third location. I’m happy about that and think it’s a great accomplishment. I’m also proud of creating a livable work environment for the medical assistants that work for us. It’s not the highest-paying job, and certainly, I can’t offer all of the perks that bigger companies can offer, but I can make Euphora Health a Mom and Pop HR environment. For example, when the pandemic started, I allowed one of our MAs to bring her daughter to work and use one of our exam rooms as her schoolroom because she wasn’t able to go back to school. Another one of our MAs just had a baby. We can’t offer paid maternity leave, but I was able to offer her the ability to work remotely and part-time while she was on maternity leave. Now that she’s back, I’ve allowed her to bring her baby in with her, and we’ve set aside one of the rooms for her baby. I feel like creating a family-friendly work environment like that is one of my greatest accomplishments.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Being a jack of all trades. I’m the business owner, but also a doctor, marketer, and HR person. As the jack of all trades, I need to set up all of our systems, I need to fix the Roomba robot vacuum when it needs to be fixed; I need to fix the toilets and clean things up when the janitor doesn’t come. There’s a lot that can be asked of the business owner when you’re trying to run it all by yourself. Wearing the HR hat is particularly complicated because when you don’t have the time to sit beside the employee who’s having problems and help them work through the problems, that just makes things more difficult.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Start planning today. I’m a big believer in measuring twice and cutting once. Everything needs to fall into place, from getting your state business paperwork set up to figure out what you’re going to do about bookkeeping and accounting to setting up your website to finding the right office to hiring the right people to training them to do the job that you want them to do. All of these things take time. If you can get a plan in order before you start, it makes the process easier.
- Expect to make mistakes. You can’t go into a new business and do things that you weren’t trained to do without making mistakes. Understand that that’s going to happen. If there’s no big issue that comes from it, just learn from it and move on.
- Teach people who work for you and work with you what you do so that you can delegate to them in the future. You can’t continue to do everything by yourself. Take the time to provide an education to people around you on those things that you’re doing so that they can take those tasks on for you and you can take on more demanding work.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I’d just like to ask readers to think about “voting” for the healthcare system they want with the dollars they spend. If they don’t want to be treated like cattle being herded, if they want better customer service from the healthcare system, if they want more attention from their provider, there are options like Direct Primary Care out there that might allow them to obtain these things. The more you support those types of practices, the more doctors will open those types of practices. Consider what you want the healthcare system to look like. Try to find a doctor around who looks like that and support that doctor with your dollars.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email email@example.com; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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