We had the good fortune of connecting with Susan Wilder and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Susan, as a parent, what have you done for you children that you feel has had the most significant impact?
In my feeble attempt at balancing 60-80 hour work-weeks with parenting our three daughters, I often multi-tasked by bringing them with me on rounds to see my post-partum Moms and babies and even joining me on home and hospice visits. These adorable little munchkins were far more therapeutic than I could ever be. The best thing I did as a Mom was, out of necessity, to facilitate their independence. Too often, well-meaning but overprotective parents raise veritable “hot house flowers” who cannot function in the real world. Self-esteem and resilience must be earned the hard way. We cannot buy it for them. I often kid that both my children and my garden thrived on benign neglect. However, allowing kids to fail and figure things out for themselves is a gift. In so doing, we also learn more from them than they do from us which inspired me to write the book, “Mouths of Babes, Everything I Learned in Medicine I Learned from My Kids.”
What should our readers know about your business?
20 years ago I was at the “pinnacle” of my career, Founding and Directing a premier Family Medicine Residency at the Mayo Clinic, We were seeing more and more patients, in less and less time, as our diagnostic and therapeutic choices escalated – a prescription for disaster. I became increasingly disenchanted with medicine as we threw more medicines at patients to “manage” their worsening chronic diseases. Then I met Dr. Leonard Berry, the Texas A&M Professor, “Peter Drucker” guru of Service in industry, who was doing a 2 year sabbatical at Mayo to study service in healthcare. He spent his final week with us in Family Medicine and we blew him away with the complexity and importance of the work we do in primary care, a specialty field of breadth that gets little respect in our highly subspecialized industry. He challenged and inspired me to create our patient-centered, innovative, dream practice, LifeScape within a couple years. At LifeScape, we inspire and empower health transformation. We believe “chronic disease management,” the “standard of care” in primary care is a travesty. We should be preventing and reversing chronic disease, not “managing” it, and doing our best to reverse dependence on medications. As one of my patients stated, “all my other doctors just monitor my deterioration.” No sadder truth about an industry in dire need of revolution.
Business-wise our first decade was disastrous as we tried to offer patient-centered services in a payor-centered environment. Eventually we shifted to “Direct Primary Care” working directly for patients and cutting out the insurance middle-man. From a provider and patient standpoint, the insurance business model is “passive-aggressive robbery,”
Lessons learned were too numerous to count: keep overhead low, underestimate growth and overestimate costs, move quickly to get the wrong people off the bus, don’t be a martyr, and don’t be so trusting over everyone.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
My favorite spots are all inspired by nature, including hiking any of the fabulous trails throughout the McDowells, enjoying the Botanical gardens (or the zoo with kids), enjoying the pools at any of our spectacular resorts, and eating in spots with beautiful outdoor settings like Lon’s at the Hermosa.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My husband Bob, who by fate I met on my very first day of college over 40 years ago, supports and facilitates the realization of every dream. He believes in me even when my faith in myself is shaken, complements my skills and temperament, and challenges me when I veer off course. We always succeed when we work together on a project. I often tease him that his job description is “wet blanket” because I tend toward impulsive gut instinct while he is skeptical and maddeningly logical. I am the “forest” visionary while he is the “veins on the leaves of the trees” action plan. No doubt our differences drive each other crazy at times but appreciating our complimentary input is key to making our businesses, and marriage, work in the long run.
Twitter: @lifescapeaz or @4yourhealthdoc
Facebook: @lifescapepremier and Brilliant Health Community private group
Youtube: lifescape premier and dr susan wilder