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Why I Became A Primary Care Physician

physicianBy Steven Stroll, MD

I’ve been around medicine my entire life. I am the son, grandson, nephew, husband, cousin and brother-in-law of doctors. After years of being surrounded by devoted, engaged doctors I have learned the value of timely and attentive medical care. I have also realized that our current healthcare system needs to change. My patients and I were all tired of hurried visits, endless waiting and high costs. For me, the choice of becoming a Direct Primary Care provider was easy. My practice is now affiliated with R-Health, the first Direct Primary Care provider in the Philadelphia region.

Why Direct Primary Care? It enhances the quality of care and patient experience and can save money by managing medical problems before they become more serious and require expensive intervention.  I have the privilege of really knowing my patients and their history. We have built solid relationships. I am here for routine check-ups and to be a partner in treating serious issues. The key to Direct Primary Care is patient communication, so if they can’t make it into the office we speak via cell phone, video conferencing or e-mail. My patients love it.  Our bond is strong and they know they can count on me.

Direct Primary Care works like this. The Direct Primary Care practice serves as the patient’s “primary care medical home” (D-PCMH) where they go for routine primary care, urgent care, preventive care and chronic disease management. Patients pay one low monthly fee, giving them unfettered access to their personal physician. There are no co-pays, deductibles or per visit charges.  On the physician side, the Direct Primary Care model eliminates time wasted and resources wasted on insurance billing procedures and collections. With a lower business overhead and dramatically less paperwork, primary care providers are no longer forced to squeeze in an unmanageable number of patients and can instead take the time necessary with each patient to deliver high-quality, personalized care.

The patient care is second to none. I am now free to spend more time with each patient. Instead of being rushed through a 5- or 10-minute appointment, my patients are given the time they need to discuss their health concerns and questions. I now have time to actually treat my patients, not just get a quick overview and then refer them to an expensive outside specialist who doesn’t really know them. Most Americans have never experienced this level of care. For patients with chronic illnesses such as diabetes or high blood pressure, the unrestricted access to a primary care physician can have dramatic – often life-changing – positive effects on their health.

By eliminating the burden of insurance claims processing and collection from primary care practices, physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants have more time to do what they were trained to do – practice medicine. The Direct Primary Care Coalition has found that many former primary care physicians who discover this model actually return to primary care.  With this innovative care delivery model, they no longer need to retire early to escape the stress of insurance-based primary care.

That is not to say that insurance isn’t necessary, but that insurance should be used for expensive, unusual, and unpredictable events – not for basic healthcare needs such as primary care.  The current insurance infrastructure in the United States actually makes primary care more expensive and less effective.

For me, the concept of proactive, patient-centered medical care is the foundation of what our healthcare system should be.


Dr. Stroll earned his B.S. in Biological Sciences and his Doctor of Medicine from Drexel University, and completed post-graduate training at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. 

(Photo by redrickshaw via Flickr)

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