Markel-backed firm marches further into major markets

PartnerMD founder and CEO Linda Nash. (photo courtesy of PartnerMD)

PartnerMD founder and CEO Linda Nash. (photo courtesy of PartnerMD)

The Windy City and the Queen City are the next destinations for a local high-end health-care provider.

PartnerMD, a membership-driven concierge medical company, plans this year to add locations in Chicago and Charlotte, N.C. They’ll open by July, and will be the ninth and 10th outposts for the 10-year-old firm, chief executive Linda Nash said.

They follow three new locations the company launched between June and February, including facilities in Seattle, Atlanta and Baltimore, Nash said. PartnerMD made its first venture outside Virginia with an office in Greenville, S.C., in January 2013.

Its expansion is backed by Markel Corp., a deep-pocketed Glen Allen insurance company whose investment arm acquired PartnerMD in 2011.

“They really believe in the concept and they believe what we do ought to be a national company, so they’ve been backing us to go into these markets,” Nash said of Markel.

PartnerMD was founded in Richmond in 2003 with a paid membership model that targets corporations, business executives and other clients. A year ago, it had about 4,800 members. It now has more than 6,500, Nash said.

The company also has significantly increased its staff – going from 79 employees at the close of 2012 to a current roster of 125, Nash said. Twenty-six of those employees are physicians.

Nash said the company has had its pick of doctors because many are looking for stability during all of the current changes in health care.

PartnerMD's headquarters are on the third floor of this building at 7001 Forest Ave.

PartnerMD’s headquarters are on the third floor of this building at 7001 Forest Ave. (Photo by Michael Schwartz)

PartnerMD “allows the doctors to concentrate on medicine. They don’t have to worry about managing the office, paying the bills, and hirings and firings,” Nash said.

In addition to branching out to two new cities, PartnerMD plans to spend 2014 filling out existing offices and adding new offices in cities where it’s already located.

For example, the company recently added two doctors to what was a solo-practitioner office in Midlothian. Its West End location is so popular that it’s adding another office suite to accommodate more physicians, Nash said. It has nine doctors there now and plans to hire three more by 2015.

For a membership fee, PartnerMD patients receive around-the-clock access to their physicians and get their cell phone numbers. The average annual fee is about $1,900 for the first person on the plan and about $1,300 for the second person, Nash said.

Nash said PartnerMD’s customers’ median combined household income is about $75,000. The largest chunk of members fall in the 45-65 age group, Nash said.

PartnerMD isn’t the only local health-care provider in growth mode. Glen Allen-based urgent-care provider Patient First has eight locations in the works for 2014 across the Mid-Atlantic.

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