Dr. Bethany Rife is bringing an innovative practice for child care to the region. She's a Direct Primary Care (DPC) physician. This means she's part of the direct primary care model in which patients pay the physician directly for primary care without the control of insurance companies.
Dr. Rife's speciality is pediatrics. Her practice's brochure announces these series of advantages.
"You pay the doctor directly, no phone tree to get to the doctor, no waiting at appointments, no rushed visits and no confusion about costs."
Dr. Rife is a board certified pediatrician with over nine years of experience. She grew up in Tomball and completed her BS degree at Texas A&M University. Her medical degree is from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and her pediatric residency was with a Texas A&M program at Scott & White in Temple, Texas.
After graduation, Dr. Rife returned home to Tomball to work for seven years with a local clinic. Determined to avoid the complications of dealing with insurance issues, she has developed her practice into a telemedicine clinic. Now living in North Texas, she returns to Tomball for a few days each month to see patients and keep in touch with family.
"I have so many families. I'm blessed to have this opportunity to provide real medical care for your children," Dr. Rife said of her primary motivation for medicine.
She explains that traditional health care usually requires waiting for an appointment with the doctor, a few minutes to be seen and then a possible hassle with insurance.
The new model based on membership-only does not work with insurance. Rather, in exchange for a monthly fee, the patient has unlimited access to their doctor.
However, Dr. Rife agrees, the patient is encouraged to have a high level deductible health insurance plan for life-threatening emergencies, hospitalizations or specialist care.
Also important, Dr. Rife said, is that the doctor's costs are transparent. Her fees are $40 per month per family following the sign-up charge of $150 per family. Sick visits in the clinic are $90.
After becoming dissatisfied with her life as a traditional health care provider, Dr. Rife described her professional and family life now as a DPC practice physician.
"My day is to be home in the morning for kids and messages from patients. There may be calls asking how to manage that child that day. In the afternoon, I catch up on non-emergency calls, paperwork and helping my husband with farm stuff.
"That's one to two hours per day on the practice, although it's sometimes a lot more, sometimes less. But it allows me to be there for my family as well as patients.
"But it works beautifully. I'm kinda available whenever. Get an emergency call, I can manage it immediately because I'm at home. It's basically like having a doctor on call."
"For the patient," she continued, the first step is to sign up for a wellness visit. This is a full physical checkup and health history, which can take an hour for a family of three to four. I find out how the family wants to be medically cared for. From there, the parents can text me about what to do whenever they need to. They'll get me directly. They don't need to worry about how they can manage at home. The biggest savings can result from avoiding the emergency room visit."
Dr. Rife has begun her telemedicine clinic in Linden during the last few months. She said she and her husband Jonathan chose the Linden area because of the affordability of land. The family is seeking to do farming as well.