The Making It Real Podcast invited Elevation Health’s co-founders, Maggi Birdsell and Heather Peters, to share how they transformed health and wellness in their community to be more abundant, efficient and enjoyable. In their conversation with Kiki Athanas, host of Making It Real, they explain their unique style of healthcare and provide encouragement for practitioners who are longing for something more.

This article covers the following topics…

  • The backstory behind Maggi and Heather teaming up to create Elevation Health
  • The revolutionary thought process behind Elevation Health’s unique healthcare model
  • Why Elevation Health’s niche (lying somewhere between traditional and natural healthcare) isn’t yet the norm across the medical field
  • Encouragement for practitioners in the public sector who want to create something similar




Kiki: Prior to Elevation Health, where did your journey with health and wellness begin?

Maggi: I am a University of Delaware alumni with a degree in nutrition and dietetics. At the time, I thought I’d do one thing for the rest of my life, which was inpatient. I ended up in the public health sector for 9 years where I worked mostly with people with diabetes, women who were pregnant and children.

During that time, I discovered my love for nutrition was linked to the relationship with the patient. Desiring the ability to build a connection with patients is what moved me away from inpatient. I wanted to watch people grow healthier as they improved their lifestyle and nutrition.

Having this career history allowed me to view what worked and what didn’t. It was this insight that helped build the workflow for Elevation Health.

KiKi: Did Elevation Health start as both of you teaming up?

Maggi: In a way it kind of started 7 to 10 years ago when my husband was working for Heather’s husband’s tree and landscape design company. That kind of initiated the whole relationship. I didn’t grow up here, but Heather, her husband and my husband did so they knew each other. It really just started with being acquaintances and knowing that we were both in the healthcare field and commiserating over where we were in our current career situation. Elevation Health came from both of us in the very beginning.

Heather: I started out in my early 20s working as an RN for intermediate care and medical surgical training in hospitals. After that, I became a school nurse, which gave me a feel for public health. I kept longing for more so I went back to school at East Tennessee State University to get my nurse practitioner degree. That’s when I began working in a traditional primary care setting.

“Being in a traditional primary care setting opened my eyes to how restricted the healthcare model was.”

Being rushed in and out of visits, patients felt like a number rather than a name. I wasn’t able to care for patients in a way that I wanted and I became overwhelmed. I kept thinking, “there has to be a better way”.

KiKi: It’s great that both of you thought, “there has to be a better way” and that you had the courage to go out and do it! After years of being in an environment that probably had intense conditioning to the way it has always been, it is really brave that you decided to look outside the box.



Kiki: Can you tell us about your model of healthcare, how you are doing it differently and what key elements contribute to it?

Maggi: Elevation Health is a direct primary care practice. All of our patients are members of the practice and pay a monthly membership fee. The fee is typically no more than the cost of a monthly cell phone bill. The services we provide are wellness visits, sick visits and urgent care. Essentially, we are a medical home for our patients.

“What makes us different is how we approach the care. We are able to spend more time with our patients and create a treatment plan that partners with nutrition.”

Many people ask if we are holistic or homeopathic, but we skirted all those niche terminologies. Our niche lies in-between your traditional medical care where you quickly write a prescription and the opposite end, which is sometimes no prescription and all things natural.

Kiki: When you describe it, it seems like an obvious, good idea! Why do you think it isn’t the norm today?

Heather: To be honest, I do think it is because of insurance companies. When you work in medicine under an insurance company, you are limited. Sometimes you can only discuss 3 problems at a visit and a patient may have 5. Sometimes you are limited to spending only a certain amount of time with a patient because an insurance company or an employer isn’t going to pay you if you go over. Unfortunately, it boils down to a lot of numbers and money.

I think we’ll see more direct primary care models, because doctors and practitioners across the country are all feeling the weight of the current system.

KiKi: Entrepreneurship played a big part in establishing Elevation Health. How did you go from dreaming it to doing it?

Maggi: Heather and I dreamt up ideas for over a year. We talked back and forth about what it should be. Heather attended multiple conferences and one was about direct primary care. Although there are some direct primary cares out there, there aren’t any that are owned by both a nurse practitioner and a dietician. The way we practice this care and medicine is really what makes us different in the movement.

“It really launched when Heather said, ‘I’m putting in my notice!’ [laughing]”

You talk about it for so long and then you dive in. Luckily, we had some good mentors that were able to assist with all the things you need for a practice like electronic medical records. We have the traditional and medical side of it, but we also own and provide access to a fitness facility for our members. It is a CrossFit gym that offers multiple classes, nutrition programs and supplements. We even have a retail sector of our business where we help people access high quality supplements online and in person.

I’ve always struggled with educating patients in an office in a way where they could picture what nutrition looks like at home in the kitchen. Meal Garden was a tool that changed that. It allowed me to take recipes that I had already and export them in a beautiful format that include calories, carbs and protein. Patients were now able to see what a meal looked like. I was able to export a week’s worth of meals with a grocery list included.

Kiki: To those practitioners listening that are in the public sectors and are feeling the feelings you had had a while back (being scared or overwhelmed). What words of encouragement or advice would you share in terms of recreating and manifesting what the both of you have?

Heather: I would say go for it and never look back! I think I just reached a tolerance level and I just broke and I was like “I’m doing this!” I just didn’t want to sacrifice my health and my well being. Missing out on family events and family time is a constant theme around providers and it’s not worth it. Our time is limited and it’s important. This allows me to spend time with family and my friends and do the things I need outside of work. I would never go back. [laughs]

Maggi: I think I would say your patients feel you. You’re not just feeling this yourself. It isn’t one sided. We do a survey routinely with our patients for quality improvement and annually on our anniversary month, which is this month. We are at our two year anniversary! The number one thing that our patients love about our practice is the accessibility of us. They value extended visits and being able to message us directly via our platforms. It is not just about you being stressed, your patients are longing for time with you too.

Kiki: Absolutely so in a way you are saying if you don’t do it for yourself, do it for them!

This podcast episode can be found on Apple Podcasts.

Maggi and Heather are co-founders of Elevation Health. Their dreams became reality 2 years ago when they brought to the table a view and experience to healthcare that is quite unique. Their tagline is “A View of Healthcare You’ve Never Seen”.

Maggi and Heather hope health entrepreneurs take away at least one actionable insight to improve the way their business works and feels for the better. They also hope that practitioners listening in are eager to level up for the sake of clients’ success and (just as importantly) their own inner happiness.