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First local direct primary care clinic now seeing Quad Cities patients

Direct primary care clinic is a model where the patient pays the physician, cutting out insurance and focusing on patient-physician connections.

A first-of-its-kind primary care clinic locally is now open in the Quad Cities. Life and Family Medical in Bettendorf is a direct primary care clinic, which is a model where the patient pays the physician. 

Laura Stahler is one of the clinic's first patients, moving away from traditional primary care.

"I'm just real excited to get this much time from a doctor," Stahler says. "(My family and I) were stuck in this system of trying to find care that doesn't cost a fortune. When we went with high deductible care and found Dr. Julie (Schroeder) and her clinic, we thought this would be a good fit for our family."

The Quad Cities' first DPC clinic just started seeing patients this past December, taking monthly subscription payments instead of taking insurance. 

"It's the same fee every month, like a Netflix membership or gym membership," Dr. Schroeder says. "Some months you use it more and some months you use it less. It's a set fee and it's budget-able."

By not taking insurance, that means the clinic doesn't need to employ a large billing staff, giving Dr. Schroeder more time with her patients. 

"For me, (I like) the flexibility as a doctor and that sense of knowing I'm doing right," she says. "Most doctors went into medicine with this desire to serve and help people. That's been lost in a lot of doctors, the sense of doing that (because of) churning and grinding through the system."

As a primary care physician, Dr. Schroeder knows emergencies can still happen. 

"We still do want our patients to have some insurance. I can't take out your appendix here, so you need to have major medical coverage if possible," she says. "It allows patients to go for that high deductible plan, because 80 to 90 percent of people's needs can be taken care of by primary care."

Dr. Schroeder says building patient-physician relationships is at the core of direct primary, and she hopes those personal connections will help her grow her practice and help patients get the care they need.

So far, Life and Family Medical is seeing about 20 patients. Dr. Schroeder hopes to grow her clinic to see up to 600 patients, with a few more doctors on staff too. 

Nationwide, there's about 1,400 DPC practices.