My name is Dr. Deanne “Annie” Donaway. I’m the founder and CEO of Modern Day Health Care LLP. Modern Day Health Care (MDHC) is an advanced practice nurse owned and operated health care clinic using modern technology to offer acute and primary care services through telemedicine and now also in person with our in-home house calls and in-person visits at our Aberdeen SD location.
Our patients enjoy the option to ‘see’ their health care provider from the comfort of their home. Many patients live in rural areas with limited access to quality health care, others are excited that the virtual visit eliminates the risk of contracting anything when visiting a crowded waiting room.
I started working on the concept in 2018 and went live with one Nurse Practitioner in April 2019. Today we are a network of 11 Nurse Practitioners and Physical Therapists offering our services to residents in South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, and Colorado.
What's your backstory and how did you get into entrepreneurship?
I wasn’t always an entrepreneur. It was a long journey so bear with me when I give you some background about myself.
Follow your passion and don’t wait to go live until everything is perfect. Enjoy the ride!
I was born and raised in eastern SD where I have lived my whole life. I have been married to Cedrick for 23 years and when we got married, I instantly became a bonus Mom to my one and only daughter and over the next 7 years, we were blessed to be able to add 3 handsome sons to our family. I graduated with an associate’s degree in nursing in 1999 and worked as an ICU nurse. When we moved to Sioux Falls in January 2000, I began working as an ICU Nurse at Sioux Valley Hospital. While working as an RN I knew that I needed to further my education to reach my goals and so I decided to return to school part-time to earn my bachelor’s degree and then continued to earn my Master’s degree in nursing.
In 2003 my husband suffered a traumatic head injury while at work which took him 3 years to recover from. During those years I was working to support the family, acting as my husband’s caregiver, raising the kids, and continuing to go to school. In 2008 after earning my Master’s degree I was hired by the Department of Veterans Affairs as a Nurse Manager of one of their Community Living Center’s and soon was offered the opportunity to complete an 18-month long LEAD program and manage the 19 Sioux Falls VA outpatient clinics. In 2008 I also helped my husband start his own food truck and catering business which we owned and operated for 11 years. After 5 years with the VA, I took a position in higher education as an Assistant Professor at the University of South Dakota College of Nursing and then as an online Course Instructor at Western Governors University while working part-time on my Ph.D. in nursing from the University of Nevada. After completing my Ph.D. in 2016 and selling the catering business a year later I was ready for something new, even though I was still working full time as an online nursing instructor.
In early 2018, I was introduced to a group that was working on a plan to support advanced practice nurses to start their own businesses in health care. I worked with this group to help form a national organization called American-APN and I now sit as the President of the American-APN Board. Through this work, I started envisioning MDHC.
Take us through your entrepreneurial journey. How did you go from day 1 to today?
In 2018 I envisioned Modern Day Health Care (MDHC) after learning more about an exciting telemedicine software program that offers the platform for virtual visits, record keeping, and billing. It is aimed at health care providers who want to start their own practice. But there is still a lot of administrative work to do, including scheduling, credentialing with insurance companies, and all of the other business management responsibilities.
To truly allow health care providers to focus on what they love and what they are good at they needed additional help. Once I realized that I developed the concept for Modern Day Health Care.
Growing up in rural South Dakota I also knew about how underserved those areas are. Modern Day Health Care is closing that gap. We can be accessed from anywhere. All that’s needed is a smartphone, laptop with a camera, or a tablet.
The providers enjoy the freedom of setting their own hours, being flexible in where they work from and they don’t have to worry about any back end administrative work, focus on what they know best: treating their patients.
When I first talked about the idea, my friend and colleague Julie Beehler were on board. She supported my idea and was the first nurse practitioner to sign up with MDHC. She is now the MDHC Medical Director.
I signed up with CareSpan for our provider platform, got a PO Box for an address, and a phone number so our patients could make an appointment. In April 2019 went online to serve patients in South Dakota and Iowa. Julie’s first virtual appointment was super exciting and we knew we had something great going.
In the past year and a half, we added several more Nurse Practitioners, expanding our service area to Minnesota and Colorado. In February 2020 we added a new “product”. My niece Mikala Simon approached me with the idea to offer physical therapy through virtual visits. She had already experience with online treating of patients and was confident that she would be a good fit. We have since added another physical therapist and a physical therapist assistant.
In August 2020 we expanded even further. We added a physical location in Aberdeen, SD.The clinic is staffed by Mikala, Alora Weinrich (PTA), and Nurse Practitioner Lindsey Peterson. Also based in Aberdeen is our RN Sara who is one of our travel nurses and manages in-home clinic visits in the Aberdeen region!
With this physical location, we offer a place for patients to come in person if they are not comfortable with virtual visits, and we also can offer a truly in-home visit. Sara can come to the patient’s home with the equipment needed for the virtual visit.
She is also able to perform tests and labs and handle the visit with our virtual provider. Together they can diagnose and treat our patients from the comfort of their home.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Today Modern Day Health Care is a network of 11 Nurse Practitioners, Physical Therapists, a Functional Medicine Chiropractic Doctor, an RN, and a receptionist. I am still working as an online instructor for Western Governors University. We have been growing faster than I expected but the combined profit is still not where I would like to see it to comfortably quit my daytime job. I keep a percentage of the revenue the providers make to cover my administrative costs and my own work. My goal is to grow at a speed that allows me to continuously provide the service the current providers are expecting.
I hope to quit my job and work full time for MDHC, allowing me to expand the business nationwide.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
On a personal level, this journey was truly enlightening. I’ve enjoyed the support of my family and friends. A kind word of encouragement went a long way when I fell.
From a business point, there are a few things I would do differently, especially in marketing. I found that all my advertising efforts on the radio, Facebook, printed advertisements didn’t really get me anywhere. Word of mouth is still the most effective marketing tool. Nowadays that encompasses Facebook posts, engagements with our patients, reviews, and good old fashion press releases to be published in the local newspapers.
One thing I’m struggling with is time management. Juggling my full-time job and Modern Day Health Care has been hard. It got better when I set up my own office and organized my day, blocking out time slots. Hiring a receptionist for MDHC was a great decision to allow me to focus on the main strategy of growth rather than day to day administrative work.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
I use CareSpan as the platform for our virtual visits, billing, and medical record keeping. I also use Microsoft Office 365. Every provider and employee has their own MDHC account. I use the booking app from Office 365 because it comes with the package at no extra cost and does what we need it for, especially its integration with the calendar of each provider. We use Teams for all our internal conversations and meetings.
As a medical provider, we have to be HIPPA compliant and Microsoft already covers a big part of that compliance by offering encrypted email and communications.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
I have listened to “You are a badass at making money” several times in the last year and it is always a good reminder to me to keep moving forward despite any real or potential setbacks.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
One tip I have is when you come up with a name, make sure that the domain name is available, and that it is not a registered trademark. I had initially named the company Modern Day House Calls, had the domain but learned later that it was trademark protected so I had to change all my paperwork which was time-consuming and costly.
Other than that, I can only say: do it! Follow your passion and don’t wait to go live until everything is perfect. Enjoy the ride!
Where can we go to learn more?
To learn more about my business please visit our website.
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