At this very moment, around 30% of Americans are dealing with anxiety (National Alliance on Mental Illness). GAD, OCD, Panic Disorder, PTSD, Social Anxiety, it’s all there. Anxiety causes excessive worrying, inability to sleep, fatigue, fear, the list goes on. Sound familiar?
And around 20% of Americans, in their lifetime, will suffer from depression (Arch Gen Psychiatry). It may be mild, it may be severe. But if you ask anyone who’s dealt with it, you’ll hear the same thing: it sucks. Feelings of hopelessness, defeat, lack of appetite and energy… depression is not something that anyone wants to deal with, but it’s also something that you do have control over. Assuming you have the right support, that is.
What is Prairie Health?
Prairie is a telemedicine provider that specializes in anxiety and depression. It connects patients with expert psychiatrists and Care Coordinators for personalized treatment plans, medication management, and continuous support for the long haul. They also use genetic testing to better inform their prescription decisions.
And it all comes with transparent, pay-per-visit pricing (as opposed to pricy subscription-based models that their competitors use).
How does Prairie Health’s care plan work?
While most telemedicine companies just set patients up with nurse practitioners or generalists, Prairie actually sets you up with board-certified psychiatrists who specialize in diagnosing and treating anxiety and depression. They’re fully able to prescribe medication, deliver it straight to your door, and assign you a Care Partner who will hold your hand throughout your entire journey.
But where Prairie differentiates themselves is in the free genetic testing that they run on you, which becomes the backbone of your treatment plan moving forward. Believe it or not, 90% of people have genes that their doctors could use to create better treatment plans. Without using your genetic information as part of your diagnosis, there’s a good chance you’ll experience side effects from the dosage of and type of medication that you’re prescribed. This saliva-based DNA test mitigates those risks.
What does getting started with Prairie look like?
- Fill out a brief, initial form on Prairie’s website.
- Your Care Coordinator will schedule an initial call with you to meet you for the first time. Discuss symptoms, what’s bothering you, etc.
- Your Welcome Box and saliva-based DNA test will be shipped to you.
- Meet with your psychiatrist over video or phone to discuss your thoughts on treatment and get a diagnosis. Your psychiatrist won’t have the results of your DNA test just yet, but they’re not needed at this time anyway.
- Allow up to a couple weeks for your DNA test to be analyzed (in some cases, patients only had to wait a few days, though).
- Your psychiatrist will touch base with you again to discuss medication options, at which point they may give you a prescription and have it shipped straight to your door.
- (Ongoing and optional) Meet with your Care Coordinator and psychiatrist via video/phone sessions. Rather than provide you counseling services in these appointments, these will generally focus on making any adjustments to your medication dosages or setting you up with other providers for counseling.
What conditions does Prairie treat?
Prairie’s psychiatrists specialize in two conditions: anxiety and depression. If you think you’re dealing with something else, you might consider looking elsewhere.
Where does Prairie operate?
Currently, Prairie Health operates only in California. If you live elsewhere, check back in to this page to see if they’ve expanded to yours. They’re working on it.
Do I need medication?
The fact is, you might not. But it’s worth noting that around 66% of people see improvement from taking medication. You’ll never know until you meet with your psychiatrist, have a personal discussion, review your genetics, and find out for yourself. If you feel as though you tried everything but medication – meditation, therapy, following a good diet and exercise regime – then it’s a route that’s worth considering.
What medications does Prairie prescribe?
As with any other psychiatrist, Prairie’s team most commonly prescribes SSRIs, NDRIs, SNRIs, and Alpha-Agonists. It’s worth noting that everything is FDA-approved and that they don’t prescribe controlled medications at this time. You can see a full list of their medications here.
Why do I need a Care Coordinator?
You may be asking yourself: why not just visit a psychiatrist in-person, hope for the right medication, and be on my way? A fair question to ask, for sure, but keep these in mind.
- For one, being prescribed a medication that works for your individual genetics is a wild game of trial-and-error. Prairie’s team sets you up with complementary genetic testing, measurement-based care, and research-backed coordination of your care.
- Everything is handled virtually, which is super convenient.
- With Prairie Health, you’re guaranteed to work directly with psychiatrists. Other companies will often just set you up with a nurse practitioner.
How much does Prairie Health cost?
In classic Prairie Health fashion, they do things a bit differently than other virtual psychiatry providers.
Rather than charging a membership fee, Prairie Health recently decided that charging per-visit is better for their customers. Why? Because for some people, finding the right medication and sticking to it was effective enough to eliminate the need for monthly psychiatrist visits. They are, of course, still available to those who want them, though.
Your initial intake appointment costs $295, and generally runs about 50 minutes. After this, you can schedule followup appointments for just $160 a pop.
Medication costs $15 per month (per med). This is standard across the telemedicine industry.
Compare this to the traditional way of seeking psychiatric help: Without genetic testing (which comes at the hefty cost of ~$300, you may be knee-deep in the trial-and-error that psychiatric medicinal healthcare brings. Not to mention the steep monthly fees you’d incur to meet with these professionals (as much as ~$200/mo, in my experience — even with insurance).
Is Prairie worth the cost?
Okay. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s dive into whether or not Prairie is a competitive solution for diagnosing and treating anxiety / depression with medication.
The short answer is: yes, it absolutely is.
The benefits of embracing telemedicine as a means of treating and anxiety aside, Prairie boasts some nice benefits over their competitors:
One huge leg up that Prairie has on the competition is that free genetic testing that they provide their patients before the diagnostic process even begins. Different genes mean different responses to medication. So once you fill out the initial questionnaire, Prairie will ship a saliva-based DNA test to your house. Complete this, send it back to their lab, and they’ll immediately be able to narrow down the long list of potential medications to those that’ll work well with your specific genetics.
Next, they’ll set you up with the same (or better!) board-certified psychiatrists that you’d get set up with otherwise: whether it’s via telemedicine or in-person care. This psychiatrist will review the results of your genetic testing and meet with you one-on-one to determine the best course of action for you to take on your road to getting healthy.
After shipping medication straight to your door, you’ll be set up with a Care Coordinator who holds your hand along the journey to a healthier, happier life.
Over the long-term, medication will continue to be delivered straight to you and your regular sessions with your Care Partner will ensure you’ve got the support you need to stay on the path to health. Remember you’re just paying $15 per month for that medication, which is as cheap as you’d find anywhere else. – even on Amazon Prime.
Prairie Health Reviews: What are others saying?
Among Trustpilot, Reviews.io, and Google Reviews combined: Prairie Health scores a perfect 5 star review, out of 11 total ratings. Not a ton of reviews yet, since they’re a relatively new startup, so this isn’t surprisingly. I also dug around Reddit to see if anyone had shared their experience there, but had no luck. Oh well.
The good news is, people all across these trusted reviews sites and Prairie’s own site all share very positive experiences. No surprise there, really. Prairie approaches telepsychiatry in a really innovative way, is priced fairly, and employs Care Partners and Psychiatrists that patients love.
The Verdict: Is Prairie Health a good option?
Before you make a decision on whether Prairie is right for you, there’s one important thing you should consider:
Do you think you’ll benefit from (and be willing to pay extra for) dedicated therapy sessions?
That’s a key. Companies like Brightside and Cerebral offer therapy as an ad-hoc additional (at a significant charge) but Prairie Health doesn’t. Prairie focuses on their bread-and-butter: using genetic testing to inform your medication journey, and helping you find a therapist if you decide it’s right for you. But as far as strictly virtual psychiatry providers go, Prairie is a great choice. You’re getting:
- Peace of mind that you’re not trying random prescriptions until one actually works
- Optional appointments with a psychiatrist, meaning you’re not paying for appointments that you may not need! Not everyone needs weekly sessions with a therapist, so why pay for it?
- Free delivery of medication. The $15 per month copay remains, but this is bundled for every service out there – whether it looks free or not.
Excellent psychiatric care at a flexible, transparent price makes Prairie a standout candidate for online anxiety and depression treatment.