Wednesday, Nov 29, 2023 | 12:00 AM ET

S4 E9: The Benefits of a Direct-to-Consumer Healthcare Model—featuring Melynda Barnes

In traditional healthcare, patients don’t control the flow of funds. And that leaves payers or health systems in the driver’s seat when it comes to decision making.

But Ro designed a business that gives control back to patients. A business where health insurance doesn’t stand in the way of patients being able to access the care they want and need.

Dr. Melynda Barnes is Chief Medical Officer at Ro, a direct-to-patient health care platform that provides high-quality, affordable care without the need for insurance.

Dr. Barnes is one of Fierce Healthcare’s Most Influential Minority Executives and a 40 Under 40 Leader in Health, and she is passionate about democratizing access to quality care. 

On this episode of HLTH Matters, Melynda joins hosts Dr. Jessica Shepherd and Dr. Gautam Gulati to discuss the future of vertically integrated primary care.

Melynda walks us through Ro’s suite of product offerings, explaining how her team addresses stigmatized conditions and why patients are more willing to discuss these issues with the Ro care team.

Listen in to understand why Ro built out its own pharmacy and learn how patients benefit from the company’s scale—and its very high bar for asynchronous telehealth care.

Topics Covered

  • What inspired Melynda’s shift from practicing medicine to healthcare startup exec
  • How Ro offers a direct-to-patient model where insurance doesn’t stand in the way of quality care
  • The stigma around obesity and why there’s debate on covering medication to address it
  • Ro’s suite of product offerings and why Melynda’s team focuses on stigmatized conditions
  • Why patients are more willing to discuss conditions that carry stigma virtually
  • How Ro sets the bar very high for asynchronous telemedicine
  • How patients pay for Ro’s services through memberships, cash pay and insurance
  • What members of the Ro Body program get with their membership
  • What enabled Ro to scale so quickly and get their visits down to a $15 price point
  • How the Ro platform is built for patients, providers and pharmacists
  • Ro’s patient-first approach to expanding its service offerings
  • Why Ro built out its own pharmacy and the benefits of such vertical integration

Connect with Melynda Barnes


Melynda on LinkedIn

Connect with Dr. Jessica Shepherd & Dr. Gautam Gulati


Dr. Shepherd on X

Dr. Shepherd on LinkedIn

Dr. Gulati on X

Dr. Gulati on LinkedIn


Stanford Biodesign Fellowships

GLP-1 Obesity Meds

Ro Body Program


Melynda Barnes, MDChief Medical Officer, Ro

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