Dr. Amanda Preimesberger goes back to her roots

The new Verona direct primary care clinic opens March 1.
Dr. Amanda Preimesberger stands in scrubs amidst the rubble in an old Verona home she is remodeling for her Direct Primary Care practice
Courtesy of Amanda Preimesberger
Dr. Amanda Preimesberger is remodeling an old home in downtown Verona for her new Direct Primary Care practice, rootsMD.

When we highlighted Advocate MD, the area’s only other Direct Primary Care, or DPC, practice clinic back in September, Dr. Amanda Preimesberger was already more than familiar with the concept. For three years, she’d dreamt of opening such a practice herself — an independent, membership-based, pay-per-service model that could allow her to spend quality time with patients while cutting out the insurance middleman.

On March 1, that dream will come true. Preimesberger said goodbye to her 12-year practice within one of the major health systems (for which her peers voted her a Madison Magazine Top Doctor in 2016) and struck out on her own with rootsMD, a family medicine clinic that will start in an interim space on Whalen Road before moving into a remodeled building in downtown Verona. It’s a move she makes with mixed emotions.

“By far, leaving my patients and fantastic practice partners has been the toughest part. I’d delivered their kids, hugged them through tough chapters like the loss of a spouse,” Preimesberger says. But her days are about to get easier with the change. She says the average family doctor in an insurance-based health system sees 18-22 patients per day for an average of 15-20 minutes each, plus charting and other administrative duties.

For the past year and a half, Preimesberger took on not only her standard patient load, but extra shifts in urgent care while also working to get a small business off the ground in her “off hours”— like ordering clinic supplies in the middle of the night. Factor in the pandemic, and helping four sons navigate virtual school with her Madison Fire Department lieutenant husband (which she wrote about in a first-person essay for our June 2020 issue), and she’s exhausted.

She’s also energized. Preimesberger says the DPC model will allow her to take the time she needs with each patient. She envisions rebuilding medicine into something more personal, accessible and unhurried. She’ll get back to what first drew her to medicine in the first place, and in the area she was raised — hence the rootsMD name.

“I grew up in Mount Horeb and the UW Health Verona clinic was my residency clinic during training, so it feels full circle in a way,” Preimesberger says. “I began my career at a time when physician colleagues across all specialties regularly interacted and were responsible for all aspects of care and sustainability. If we recognized an opportunity to improve, we could pivot in real time to better serve our patients.”

But over time, says Preimesberger, that changed as health care clinics nationally merged into large hospital-owned conglomerates with paired insurance plans.

“Patients get less time with their doc than ever before, and physicians are left feeling demoralized with little autonomy in their practice. Burnout is prevalent,” Preimesberger says. “DPC has the ability to correct nearly every strain point currently faced by patients and their physicians in the primary care setting.”

Although rootsMD does not accept insurance and can’t cover all medical bases, DPC patients often pair membership with a high deductible insurance plan. This allows Preimesberger more flexibility to pass along cost savings to her patients.

“When we uncouple a specific insurance plan from access to a doctor, this doctor can serve patients affordably, whether insured or uninsured, and offer continuity care across job and career changes even if insurance benefits change,” Preimesberger says. “Whittling away third party and administrative costs for labs, imaging and medications can result in savings of up to 80% or more for patients paying their DPC physician directly, outside of insurance.”

Preimesberger plans to cap her practice at 450 patients, seeing only between 8 and 10 people on a “busy” day. “Family dinners can occur prior to 7:30 or 8 p.m.,” she laughs. And while it’s not in her personality to slow down, her time will be filled with more of what she’s most passionate about, like her photography hobby and a penchant for fixer-uppers — including her husband’s childhood home where the family now lives, and the rootsMD building itself, which is currently under construction and slated to open this summer.

“I’m excited to bring new life and fresh love to a worn down site along Verona’s main street for a family medicine clinic,” Preimesberger says. “Cultivating welcoming spaces and meaningful moments brings me joy.”

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