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One Medical CEO Tom Lee grew up in the Seattle area and studied at the University of Washington. (One Medical Photo)

Alternatives to the traditional healthcare system are becoming more popular than ever, and one of those alternatives is expanding to the Seattle region.

One Medical, a San-Francisco-based startup offering membership-based primary care, announced it will open the doors to its new Seattle care center Wednesday and plans to open another center in Bellevue, Wash., later in the summer.

The startup distinguishes itself from traditional primary care by offering longer appointments with physicians and services including same- and next-day appointments. It has a heavy emphasis on technology, including its consumer-facing app where patients can communicate with their doctors, schedule appointments, request and renew prescriptions and be treated for simple issues like colds and the flu.

The startup charges an annual membership fee to cover costs not reimbursed by health insurance, which allows it to offer those services. The company also offers a free structure for those without health insurance. The introductory cost for a year of membership at the Seattle office will be $149 and the company’s standard annual membership fee is $199.

Systems like One Medical’s are becoming more popular as healthcare costs skyrocket, with the conventional wisdom that quality primary care helps ward off costly health issues down the line. The company’s system is similar to Seattle-based startup Qlative, which was backed by the likes of Jeff Bezos and early Amazon investor Nick Hanauer.

One Medical patients can ommunicate with their doctors, schedule appointments, request and renew prescriptions and be treated for simple issues like colds and the flu through the companys app. (One Medical Photo)

One Medical’s Seattle office will have the capacity to see over 100 people each day and the startup is working with several employers in the Seattle region to offer its primary healthcare to employees. The Seattle region is the startup’s eighth metropolitan market — its first in the Pacific Northwest — and it’s close to home for One Medical founder and CEO Dr. Tom Lee.

“I’ve been looking forward to bringing One Medical to Seattle. In addition to growing up here, I received my medical training at the University of Washington School of Medicine, which originally inspired me to specialize in primary care,” Lee said in a statement. “Knowing the importance of quality and service to residents of the Puget Sound area, I know One Medical’s technology-enabled primary care model will particularly resonate with this community.”

Lee explained in a past interview with GeekWire that technology is an essential part of One Medical’s ability to provide non-traditional primary care services in an affordable way. “We actually reduce our overhead by using technology,” Lee said. “Then we reinvest the savings in more time with patients. That’s how we’re able to do what we do on an affordable basis. The technology allows us to be more effective and efficient with a patient’s time.”

One Medical has more than 1,000 employees at 57 primary care centers across the country and its headquarters in San Francisco.

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