Dr. Anand Mehta is a dedicated board certified family physician who has focused on patient care and improving the patient experience throughout his medical career.
His residency was completed at Hunterdon Medical Center in Flemington, NJ, where he continued to work for the hospital system there for 4 years.
After the move to GA, Dr. Mehta worked as a solo family physician for WellStar Health System for five years in Roswell, GA, where he later established himself as the medical director for Primary care for the local hospital.
He then took a position as the first medical director in the nation for Walmart Health during the summer of 2019. He helped grow the pilot location into a successful model that promoted the growth of future Walmart centers in GA and beyond.
However he left this position to pursue healthcare that meant more of a difference in patient lives, then his personal wallet.
Dr. Mehta takes the time to listen to the needs of his patients. He is an extrovert known to make people laugh, is empathetic, kind and welcoming. His character is spoken highly by patients, both in New Jersey and in Georgia. He has received remarkable patient satisfaction scores, coupled with providing exceptional care to his patients.
Dr. Mehta is a doting husband and busy father to three young children. When he is not busy with family life, he has been seen around Atlanta doing stand-up comedy, playing basketball, or watching the Buffalo Bills.
He is a better physician and person since starting Stand Up family Medicine, in October of 2020.
In today's episode, Dr. Mehta shares how he has literally "stood up" to the many challenges he's faced in his journey to opening his own DPC, Stand Up Family Medicine. After ten years of working for different practices and climbing the corporate ranks, it was reflecting on his life and what he had become that made him choose a better way of life. He opened in October of 2020 and now has over 220 patients under his care.
Dr. Mehta's Stand Up Act at the Gate City Brewery
Resources Mentioned By Dr. Mehta:
- The Official Guide To Starting Your Own Direct Primary Care Practice by Dr. Doug Farrago
- DPC Docs on FB
[00:00:00] Maryal Concepcion, MD: [00:00:00] Welcome to the podcast,
[00:00:01] Dr. Anand Mehta: [00:00:01] Dr. Metta.
[00:00:02] Thanks, Mary. All great to be here. Thanks so much
[00:00:05]Maryal Concepcion, MD: [00:00:05] now pleasure to talk with you yet again, because I consider you a dear DPC world friend, but you and I were on a panel just yesterday at the DPC 2021 summit.
[00:00:16] So I wanted to start off with your background because. For those of you who may or may not know Dr. Metta was the first medical director for Walmart health and had also previously been approached by diamond physicians, as well as in his own private practice prior to opening standup family medicine.
[00:00:36] Dr. Mehta, I'm wondering if you can please share with us more about that amazing background that you came from?
[00:00:42]Dr. Anand Mehta: [00:00:42] So my background is interesting. I actually went to medical school in Moneyball India in it was an interesting journey getting there. I was in university of Buffalo and I was actually studying to be an actor. And I thought I had a gig being a standup comic.
[00:00:58] My father and mother [00:01:00] who were also physicians did not think I was too funny and thought it was a better idea for me to go to med school. So they actually filled out an application and I got into that school. And before you knew it, instead of going to junior year at university of Buffalo, I became a medical student in a cause group of medical college.
[00:01:18] So I graduated from there. I came back, I took my USM Louise and I got into a residency program in hundred and family medicine residency in Flemington, New Jersey. I did my residency graduated and took a job with the hospital at a place called hundred and family medicine. It was a two provider practice that had a 70 year old physician who was about to retire and a middle-aged physician who was also a former graduate of the same residency program who was aligned to be my mentor.
[00:01:46]However, the day I joined I realized that they would not have good terms. And that mentor who was the physician I was supposed to work with, gave us two week notice. And so basically in two weeks I inherited a [00:02:00] 4,500 patient practice and had to dive into it head first very scared, like a deer in the headlights.
[00:02:07]There was a nurse that I'm still very good friends with now named Julie. She looked at me, so we'd be down and said, Hey we can do this. I have a son who's getting into college and I need this job. We're just going to have to make it work. So at that point reality hit the hard way, but it was a good team.
[00:02:24] And she did help me along the way and told me how to handle certain patients differently. And told me whatever she knew about the patients. And we did it the seven year old physician was nice enough not to retire, but he came in a couple of days. He mentored me with a couple of questions I had. And I started running a solo practice basically right out of residency.
[00:02:44] And it was a big eye-opener, but what was really good in a way is that it really gave me the sense of how unique practices as an individual physician and the relationship that you have with your peers. I think it was one of a kind and it got me on my [00:03:00] feet and discovered not necessarily the hard way, but in a good way, how important a family is, not only with your coworkers, but the patients that you have and that trusted you with their care, despite knowing that you were just a kid out of residency.
[00:03:14] So we did that for about two years and then hospital mergers took place and they shifted two practices together and we became cornerstone family practice, which was a seven provider practice. That was a big shift for me because I realized being in a multiprovider practice was difficult and patient care was not as coordinated as being an individual practitioner.
[00:03:37] I saw, working with mid-levels as well as other MDs that patient charts were getting mixed up care was being broken. The simple things like med refill requests were being confused and it was just difficult to get things done, but we stayed with it. I also, was fortunate to be meet, my future wife and was engaged in later, got married.
[00:03:59] And when it was [00:04:00] time to look for a house, New Jersey taxes became evident and I thought it was a good time to ask my hospital. I got a raise request of $5,000, which at that time wasn't going to cut it, but also was a slap in the face to realize that no matter what you did for the hospital and how many years you served for them, which was seven in total, including residency it didn't matter because your patient satisfaction scores you're recognized by your colleagues and your specialists the familiarity and the good things that your patients said about you.
[00:04:32] At the end of the day, you're just a number. And they gave me a number back. It just wasn't going to make me feel right. So at that time I uh, Looked at my wife. I said, we're going to have to look for something different. I chose Atlanta, Georgia as the next place to move particularly because my sister was in Greenville, South Carolina, she's an oncologist.
[00:04:50] She kept enforcing and reiterating that the south is a better place to live. The cost of living is better. And Atlanta seems a good hub that was [00:05:00] diverse. And that seemed to have a lot of good opportunity at the time. And so I took a job with north Fulton, primary care. They built a solo practice around me.
[00:05:09]And the CEO at that time had just a good feeling about me and I had a good feeling about her. It gave me the opportunity to start a practice brand new. So they came to Atlanta, not knowing anything, not knowing anybody in the area any of the patients. And I just started becoming hungry to make this practice successful and doing things that most physicians wouldn't do.
[00:05:33] I would go to the neighborhood pools and dress in a swimsuit and bring some cards with me and tell them that I was looking for a house in the area. And I was wondering if they had primary care that they were using and got into conversations about what I did and started spreading cards around.
[00:05:47] And before you knew it, the practice started growing. I had a medical assistant. Her name is Andrea who is also actually the medical assistance I have at my current DPC practice. And I'll get into that for a second, a little later, but [00:06:00] it was a good it was a good story coming to Atlanta in the way that you saw the practice grow around you.
[00:06:06] I had a good relationship with the hospital CEO at that time, as well as a lot of the supporting staff. I felt a very good community around me, but like most hospitals things get bought out and different mergers happen. And when the hospital later got bought by WellStar the pieces at the round table change the management team changed and then the office would change, and also the staffing and, bringing on other providers that also eventually happen.
[00:06:34] And unfortunately, when things change around you, you don't really dictate those changes. You have to just incorporate them as part of your new lifestyle. And that was difficult for me to do. It just so happens that I attended a DPC summit back in 2018 right when, so all these changes were taking place.
[00:06:54] And I was really interested in the DPC concept. At that time. I actually was approached by [00:07:00] diamond physicians as they were attempting to franchise out into the Atlanta area, they went really far with their negotiations there and really was about to make the leap. Unfortunately, financials didn't fall through exactly as planned.
[00:07:13] And I stayed at the existing WellStar clinic that I was at. Then fast forward to a year later, which would be 2019, early 2019. I was approached with an opportunity to become the director of a Walmart health first location in the country, out in Dallas. So two executives who talked to me and they wanted to have a healthcare venture that would incorporate a price transparent cost effective and open clinic that would incorporate not only medical, but dental hearing optical, pharmacy, mental health, all in one, I thought it was a great concept.
[00:07:49] As I knew that primary care was lacking almost everywhere, but a lot in that Dallas, Georgia area, I also thought that the price transparency model was [00:08:00] in a way similar to direct primary care. But I thought on a bigger scope that maybe I could hope molded into something that could be scalable and that it could be successful.
[00:08:10]And so I took the opportunity fully stated the truth behind it. There was a lot of things on that table that they gave me the opportunity to grow. But unfortunately when I did join and that the job took place, there's a lot of other people making decisions. And I think an easy way to say they were more interested in the growth of something versus the the actual running of it and how it would function and how we could make a good model that could be, a success in primary care moving forward.
[00:08:41]their aspirations and their their vision was not aligned with mine. And we decided to part ways in August of 2020, however, that was the step I needed to make in order to have the courage and the commitment to do direct primary care We all go into certain [00:09:00] situations where we get pushed and we get pushed and we get pushed.
[00:09:04] And, you have your fist clench and your heart is pumping and the adrenaline is going, but we just find a way to calm down and continue putting our heads down and getting back on that hamster wheel. That was enough for me. I just got tired of being pushed around. I got tired of people telling me how to do medicine, the way I knew it was supposed to do.
[00:09:23] And I felt like there's only one way to do it. And it actually came into a phone call with that leadership with Walmart health and said, Dr. Mehta, your shirt complained a lot about how we do things. If you think you can do it better, why don't you do it yourself? And that was it. I said, you know what, that's exactly what I'm going to do.
[00:09:43] And it was at that time, I hung up the phone and I told them. I'm going to, I'm going to do this direct primary care and I'm going to do a clinic my way. And I'm going to do it the way I was monitored. And that's when I created standup family medicine. And [00:10:00] uh, currently it's doing great. We opened in October, 2020, and we're at 225 patients as of mid July.
[00:10:08] And so we're up and running and the story continues and it continues to be.
[00:10:14] Maryal Concepcion, MD: [00:10:14] just incredible know I hear your story and the way I visualize it, as I'm listening to you is literally you have fought your way to where you are today and you are standing up for yourself, your medicine and your patients with every step that you've taken along your journey.
[00:10:32] I mean, Even, going to medical school, when you thought you were going to be a junior in college, in the states to being thrown into a clinic that you did not expect you with over 4,000 patients and then going to. Different models of merging clinics with corporations and then to, one of the biggest corporations out there.
[00:10:55] Yeah. You literally have fought your way to where you are and now you're [00:11:00] taking care of over 220 patients in that is incredible. I just, what an incredible
[00:11:05] Dr. Anand Mehta: [00:11:05] story.
[00:11:06] Yeah. Not exactly how I would write it if I had to do it again, but it's the way it had to be written in my book of life, in order to talk about it today and to make it even more of a dream come true.
[00:11:17] And I think back in the day when I was first starting out of residency, I wanted to be successful. I felt that I had a good opportunity, a good way of talking to people. I like communication. I like being social. I like being the voice in the room. I like making people laugh.
[00:11:33]I don't mind being the center of attention. I don't mind having the table around me and cracking jokes. But I also felt I had something special to offer people. And, you, you get in the system and you start chugging away and you start thinking that the more patients I see, the more successful I'm going to be.
[00:11:50] But the problem with that is the more patients we see, the less time we have for them and the less successful we actually are as individual physicians as, as well as individual [00:12:00] people, because we're just doing whatever we can to rush through the schedule. We're always thinking about the next two patients after that person that you're talking to.
[00:12:09] And we always think about the next step in our career. What can I get to, you know, and I climbed that ladder, I, 10 years out of residency, I climbed to a director position at a fortune one company. And you would look around you and you would say, this is it. Dr. Muddy, you got it. You made it on, but what you don't see on the other side of that is someone who was depressed, who was miserable in his job, who was fighting with people who didn't understand healthcare with seeing patients and not feeling good about what you did at the end of the day.
[00:12:43] Not because of your care necessarily that you're providing them just because of the culture you were in and the surrounding you were in and the inability to make change. And when you get trapped in those walls, sure a title is great. And it means a lot on a piece of paper, [00:13:00] but as a person. You go home and you're not the same person.
[00:13:03] You're not the same person that you want people around that you made people that could become very sad and lonely. And you get mad and angry and irritable and changed as a father. You changed as a husband and it just changes as person. What makes you, who you are? And I only see this now because I'm back to the person it was before.
[00:13:28] And I realized how much I've changed over these years, especially the last year that I was with Walmart health and had to go through that. But you also realize how free and independent you are and how happy you are. Yes. I know. I'm not making the same check I had with Walmart health, but I'm okay. Yeah.
[00:13:46]Some days are hard and some patients take a little longer, but that's what you do at four. And I used to dread having to work and do a 45 hour commute to Dallas, Georgia to work at Walmart health. I hated even, [00:14:00] the fee for service world with the hospital. Looking at my schedule and dreading trying to get to three 30 or four o'clock.
[00:14:05]And how many notes I had to finish at the end of the day and when I would have time or not being able to do a lot of the things that I wanted to do for my kids, with my kids or with my wife, because of the time constraints with my schedule that changes, you change and you don't know how you change because it's like it's a process that happens slowly over time and just changes you and beats into you year after year.
[00:14:29]And then you break free of it. You break free of the shackles that fee for service and that corporate world does for you. You realize that you're not crazy for feeling that way. And you start, you start finding your smile again, you start laughing, you start enjoying your patients and the patients enjoy you back.
[00:14:45] You get slaps on the back and you give them hugs back because you have a great experience, a great time with them and you enjoy seeing them. And that is bigger than any paycheck that is bigger than any name on a resume. That is your happiness. That is your growth. And [00:15:00] that is why I did what I did and I don't regret it.
[00:15:02]I, and I feel more confident each month that goes into it. And in each patient that joints, I, it makes me more happy that I made the choice that I did. And I just believe in myself more and I bet on myself more because that's it you literally are the brand and Walmart and WellStar, or, whatever hospital system you work at.
[00:15:21] It's just a name behind you. You're who they're going to see, not the name behind it. And sometimes it took a long time to understand that, but that's what I'm trying to tell the other people young in their career residents, med students you name it. You don't have to be a name on a piece of paper, on a resume to make yourself feel good.
[00:15:38] You have to feel good about what you do and when you do, you'll never look back.
[00:15:43] Maryal Concepcion, MD: [00:15:43] when you decided to go into DPC, when you decided to open up your own clinic, I want to ask first about the name because Stanhope family medicine. Clearly you have stood up for yourself. You again, like I said, you fought your way to where you are today and you just explained you're a better person [00:16:00] for it.
[00:16:00] But I want to ask, how did you come to that name specifically? And when you talk about these other brands that they're behind you now, you are your own brand. You are your own clinic. And how did you choose a name that represented you as a doctor and as a person and as a person who cares about other people for a living.
[00:16:20] Dr. Anand Mehta: [00:16:20] So it took a lot. I took the, a good eight names before my wife didn't roll her eyes at me. I thought of everything from Metta and Metta primary care to Matt as number one to finally just ending up at standup and, stand up has named one, obviously stand up is because I do stand up comedy.
[00:16:39] I did it ever since. you know, My father never thought it was funny. I wanted to prove him wrong. So once I got into residency, he had nothing holding me back and he wasn't going to send me to India again. So I thought this is the time to fly with it. So I started doing standup in residency and I ended up having a lot more fun than I thought I would do in it.
[00:16:57] And so there's an element of where a standup comes [00:17:00] from. The other thing is when I joined Walmart health, I did have videos and I still do have videos on YouTube, but when I started, they wanted me to delete them. They said, this is not the image we want as a director. Who's going to be the head of our pilot facility.
[00:17:13] And at the time I didn't know any better. I I said, this is what the change and the culture demands of going to change along with it. So I took them all down and after I gave my notice of resignation, I put it back up So there's a reason I said stand up because I wanted to stand up for what I believed in and wanted to stand up for primary care, wanting to stand up for better physician wellness.
[00:17:36] And I wanted to stand up to that culture. I wanted to stand up and say, you know what, we'll do exactly what I want to do on my terms, the way I want to do it. And be myself. And so stand up has not only a meeting a mini because of the personality behind it, things stand up has a meaning because of what we're all trying to do.
[00:17:54] And it's stand up for what we believe in and stand up for what we want our patients to believe in [00:18:00] and for what we think primary care should be about. So that's why I like stand up. That's why standup's here to stay. And that's why up is growing as we speak.
[00:18:08]Maryal Concepcion, MD: [00:18:08] Awesome.
[00:18:09] In your clinic right now, it's you and Andrea, can you share about how she decided to come on board with you as you opened up, stand up?
[00:18:18] Dr. Anand Mehta: [00:18:18] Yeah I know every DPC clinic does things differently, and everything is about keeping overhead low and bringing on members to your team when the need desires.
[00:18:29]But Andrea was a medical assistant who started with me. Way back in 2014, when I first moved to Atlanta, Georgia and took that position and start that solo clinic, she was working with the provider at that time, who she was unhappy with. And she came up to me and said, Hey, I'm Andrea, I'm a medical assistant.
[00:18:47] And I would like to work with you. And I said I don't know anything about the area and I don't know any patients or anything, and I don't know why you're leaving your existing provider. And she said, I just want somebody I can [00:19:00] communicate with and be open and honest with. And that that, that treats me like a person.
[00:19:05] And I said, yeah, sign right here. And so she was my medical assistant for five years all along the whole journey with north Fulton primary care, and then moving into WellStar. My patients loved her. I love her. And I I think the world of her, and I know she does the same backup. And she was a great teammate and a great coworker.
[00:19:24] And so when I did give my notice with Walmart I had a year outside of WellStar at that point. And so there was nothing holding me back from approaching her and asking her to join my team and my dream, which was Stanford, family medicine, And so I I took her and her husband out to dinner with me and my wife.
[00:19:40] And I said, okay. I said, this is what I want to do. I want to start a direct primary care clinic. This is how it works. This is the model and how it's going to function. And I can offer you a crazy salary right away. I can't offer you any of the benefits. The hospitals give you. I can't give you a full one.
[00:19:59][00:20:00] I can't even give you a life insurance policy, but I will offer you all the success I have moving forward. If we do become successful. And she looked at me and she said, Tell me where I signed and I'd have a contract made. I didn't have an office location. I didn't have office furniture. I had a dream and I had a name behind a dream, and I knew I needed somebody that I could trust and build it with because I just felt more confident as a team versus an individual.
[00:20:34] And so we started day one and she's been with me ever since. And a lot of the patients who were older patients in mind love hearing her voice when she answers the phone. And I'm happy that we're a team again, working together and taking care of things. And we work well together, you know, good work is hard to find.