Recently, I had the privilege of writing a forward for an e-book authored by Dr. Paul Thomas of Plum Health — Detroit’s leading direct primary care practice. If you don’t know Dr. Paul Thomas, his story or what direct primary care is, I would encourage you to continue reading and follow the links below to get your copy of his new book— Direct Primary Care: The Cure for Our Broken Healthcare System. There is a new day dawning in healthcare and it brings me great pleasure to know that missional leaders like Dr. Thomas are at the center of it.


I was sitting in my office in Leamington, Ontario, Canada, when I received an email from Nicole Mangis, founder of Brut Detroit and a well-known member of Detroit’s entrepreneurial and startup community. The email was a “request to connect with” type of email (my favorite kind)— this was my first introduction to Dr. Paul Thomas and Plum Heath.

Within a few days, Paul and I were on the phone chatting about this concept called “direct primary care.” As a Canadian, I had not yet heard of this type of healthcare model, and it took me a few minutes to grasp the concept because it was just so simple, I kept thinking to myself, “It has got to be more complicated than that.” Once I understood, we spent about 30 minutes discussing and brainstorming opportunities for Plum Health mainly around positioning (marketing, brand strategy, communication, public relations) and partnering to have the most significant impact in Detroit, a city that is grossly underserved when it comes to primary “everyday” healthcare.

To give you a little bit of background, I decided to pursue a career in healthcare as I recognized that I had a passion for people and service drawn out by my affinity and experience in the hospitality industry. Early on in my career, I set a mission statement for myself to “humanize the health system through innovation.” I believe that we can build systems for health and wellness that are community and citizen-centric, built on evidence and not ego, and by doing so, we can build communities, where people can live, long, happy, productive, meaningful and healthy lives. I believe that Plum Health embodies this.

It has been such a privilege to support and watch Dr. Paul Thomas sprint at bringing health to a community through service, by making health care radically accessible, radically affordable and radically human.

As a health systems innovator, I am particularly fond of Dr. Thomas’s use of ubiquitous digital tools (phone, email, text, FaceTime) to stay compassionately connected to his patients. Plum Health is an example of how simple deployments of technology, used thoughtfully can make a world of difference to the patient experience.

Currently, “hospital-based-health-insurance-company-systems” around the world are looking to re-invent themselves as their model is no longer sustainable from an economic perspective, nor is it aligned with changing consumer sentiments, demographics, and community, cultural, and political values.

As you read over the next few pages, regardless of what your role is in the healthcare industry, I hope you will be inspired like I have been to re-think how we can get back to the fundamentals of delivering human-centered care.

I am confident that Dr. Paul Thomas, Plum Health and the proponents of direct primary care will play a prominent role in helping us define and shape the future of our industry.

Dr. Thomas, thank you for your leadership.


Zain Ismail’s views are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations he is affiliated with. Follow Zain on Twitter– #IsmailNation #CrossBorderLove #YQG. Connect with Zain on LinkedIn.

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