Home Health The ‘Flow’ of Direct Primary Care

The ‘Flow’ of Direct Primary Care

Candace M. Walker, M.D.
Candace M. Walker, M.D.

Flowing Life Direct Health offers individualized care and an optimized patient-doctor relationship.

By Jennifer Morrell

A native of Marietta, Candace M. Walker, M.D., always knew she wanted to return to Cobb County to practice medicine. What she did not know when she finished her residency in south Georgia was the way she would eventually choose to offer care to her patients.

Dr. Walker is board certified in family medicine and has been practicing for more than 10 years. Although passionate about her craft, she was not a fan of the barriers inherent in a traditional, volume-based medical practice setting. Feeling a need to better serve her patients, she began to investigate other approaches toward healthcare. Dr. Walker sought an alternative method for meeting the needs of patients under her care in a more personalized, integrative way.

Dr. Walker implements an integrated and tailored approach to healthcare that offers numerous benefits. This membership-based healthcare model, known as Direct Primary Care (DPC), prioritizes the relationship between the doctor and the patient. The DPC model gives members direct access to their doctors. Dr. Walker recognized that, through this personalized care, she could get to know her patients on a more personal level. As someone who would be involved in some of the most intimate aspects of a patient’s life, this was of the utmost importance to her.

“The idea of Flowing Life Direct Health began about three years into practicing medicine, working for a large health system,” Dr. Walker says. “I was seeing 20 to 30 patients a day, meeting all of my metrics, and making administration and my superiors a ton of money. However, there was a point when I hit a wall.”

Frustrated, Dr. Walker says she was ignoring her own health to keep up with the 3,500 patients for whom she was responsible, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. With no room for individualizing care for her patients, she felt short on time, energy, staff, and even resources. “My dream career quickly turned into a nightmare,” she says. “There was no flow to my life, and I missed taking care of people the way I was trained to do. Burned out and unfulfilled with what I thought was my calling in medicine, I started researching ways that I could get back to doing what I love: helping people to get and stay healthy.”

Dr. Walker considered applying for fellowships to specialize in other fields that might allow her to rekindle her passion for the art of doctoring. Nothing seemed to be the right answer, until she discovered DPC, which was a relatively new health model at the time.

“DPC incentivizes doctors to keep their patient panels at a minimum, allowing your very human doctor to use her energy, skills, and experience to serve you best,” she says. “DPC practices do not have the burden of adjusting their systems based on the demands of health insurance companies or health system administrators. This was a dream path for me and lead to the manifestation of Flowing Life Direct Health.”

Dr. Walker’s ability to spend time with her DPC members allows her to treat each patient uniquely, according to his or her needs. She believes overall health outcomes will be improved through a greater degree of individual-to-physician access. Direct Primary Care supports a lower member panel — Dr. Walker keeps her number of DPC patients at 150 or below — as well as a timely, more impactful appointment. She credits these benefits for healthier, happier member-patients, along with her own increased level of health and happiness.

The Flowing Life difference

Candace M. Walker, M.D.

The benefits for Flowing Life Direct Health’s DPC members are plentiful. But Dr. Walker and her IV nurse also service non-members by appointment. Members and non-members alike can experience healthcare originating from a place of true excitement and care, each by appointment. Whether it’s a Deep Dive Physical and Wellness Exam or IV Nutrition Therapy, DPC practices can provide services the clinician desires, while practicing medicine.

“It’s reminiscent of how it was ‘back in the day,’” Dr. Walker says. “I love being the family doctor who takes care of the whole family. I get to incorporate a root-cause, functional wellness approach to caring for my members. I also love that I get to infuse my passion for breathwork and body movement into my practice.”

A belief in the mind-body connection and the power of yoga plays a role in the way Dr. Walker approaches treatment for her patients. For instance, she considers breathwork to be essential to one’s overall health and enjoys teaching helpful breathing techniques. She cites “belly breathing” as one of her go-to techniques to help people eliminate stressors and truly focus and relax. As a certified yoga instructor, she even gives patients body movement exercises if she notices a restricted range of motion and identifies potential yoga poses that can assist.

What to expect
At Flowing Life Direct Health, we offer several services to fit the needs of our community,” Dr. Walker says. “The ‘Deep Dive’ Physical and Wellness Exam is for those wanting an in-depth assessment of their health that involves a virtual assessment for your complete medical history, a thorough physical assessment, orders for labs and screening exams, in-depth interpretation of those labs/exams, nutrition guidance, and application of all results into your annual health and wellness plan. After breathwork, a head-to-toe physical examination, and form completion (pre-op exam, sports physical, biometric exam), the patient’s annual health and wellness goals are planned.

Also offered are IV therapy packages for efficient and relaxing nutrient replacement for everything from vitamin deficiencies to immune-boosting and anti-aging. Flowing Life also has DPC memberships for those desiring ongoing care: a yearly Deep Dive, initial screening labs and unlimited visits — including telehealth.

“IV Infusion Therapy is a safe and effective way to receive vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients directly into your bloodstream, making them instantly accessible by the body for use,” Dr. Walker explains. “Come relax at Flowing Life Direct Health for your treatment session with our provider. You will leave feeling refreshed and energized as a result of our physician-formulated therapies.”

Benefits of IV Infusion Therapy include maintained hydration, improved vitamin absorption, increased energy levels, and continued health. In contrast, oral supplements only offer about a 30-percent absorption rate, compared to almost 100-percent absorption through IV Infusion Therapy.

Benefits to businesses
Direct Primary Care is not just built for individual member-patients. The model also can be extremely beneficial for business owners and their employees. Small business employers with 50 or fewer employees can prioritize the care employees will use and value most. Examples include easy scheduling, the convenience of virtual communication, health coaching, mental and emotional health treatment, and family care — comprehensive care for the entire family aged 15 and older, with acute care for children aged 14 and younger.

Employees of all company shapes and sizes can redefine workplace benefits. Their personalized care experience includes several significant benefits, such as on-demand care via text or video chat; reminders about lab work, screenings and vaccines; ease of booking appointments and renewing prescriptions; and keeping physicians informed about all needs.

Growth path
Flowing Life is an active member of the Cobb County community, with memberships in the Cobb Chamber of Commerce, the Marietta Business Association, and The eWomen Network. Dr. Walker will continue to grow her patient panel to a maximum of 150 patients but will hire an additional practitioner to accommodate further growth beyond that threshold. She feels the premise is simple: Take control of your health.

“Health insurance is not healthcare,” Dr. Walker says. “You need healthcare where advocacy, convenience, and access are a given. The DPC model is a monthly or annual membership that allows our members to experience primary care as it should be — stress-free and easy going.”

To be sure, diagnosis and treatment are only the beginning for DPC members. Members can be mentored in lifestyle modification to restore their bodies physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Dr. Walker’s modern, evidence-based approach to holistic health and wellness fosters a mission of helping the patient reach optimal health.

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