Karina Azank Parilo, M.D., is proud to be Wesley Chapel’s only Direct Primary Care family physician.
After eight years in a local medical group, Dr. Parilo says she was frustrated with the ever-increasing number of patients she was expected to see, which was necessary in a medical group setting to cover the overhead costs associated with having to bill insurance companies.
Although Dr. Parilo says she already had 2,700 active patients, the group expected her to take on even more new patients.
“There were patients I’d had for six years who couldn’t get in to see me and couldn’t do their hospital follow-ups with me,” she says, explaining her schedule was too full to be able to work them in, “and I was becoming increasingly frustrated.”
So, in February of this year, she decided to leave the group she had been with and open her own practice, using a newer model known as Direct Primary Care.
That means her practice, which is located in the Windfair Professional Park behind the retail plaza on Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd. that includes Dickey’s BBQ and The Hungry Greek restaurants, doesn’t bill insurance companies.
“Instead, there is a membership fee for the practice,” Dr. Parilo explains, “which is generally $50-$60 for an individual, or a family with two kids is $150 per month.”
The practice is open to all ages, from birth to death. The monthly fee covers unlimited office visits and virtual visits via phone or video, in-office tests, well checks, sick visits, weight management, and management of chronic medical conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, asthma, arthritis and more.
For minor office procedures, such as cyst removal or laceration repair, a small supply fee is charged. A list of most membership costs is available at KAPMedicalGroup.com.
Dr. Parilo compares it to a gym membership, where you pay the same whether you visit once a year or once a month, or even once a week, which Dr. Parilo says some of her patients do to drop in for their regular weight checks.
She says her practice is an alternative to what’s becoming more common with primary care physicians, where the overhead costs to have staff available to constantly submit and follow up on insurance claims becomes one of the unfortunate driving forces of the practice.
“Dealing with insurance is a pain,” she says, “and a lot of administrative cost goes into billing insurance.”
To cover the costs, those doctors simply have to see more patients. “As a result,” she explains, “doctors just don’t have time.”
Dr. Parilo is originally from Tampa. She earned her Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Biology from Duke University in Durham, NC, then came home and earned a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree from the University of South Florida in 2005. While she started training in anesthesiology, she changed her focus to primary care because she found she missed building ongoing relationships with her patients.
“I like taking care of kids, women, men and the older population,” she says, “so I went into family medicine to be able to take care of everybody.”
In 2008, she moved to Massachusetts and completed a residency in family medicine at the University of Massachusetts in Worcester in 2010.
At the time, she says she was a single mom, so she was excited to be able to bring her daughter back home to the Tampa area where Dr. Parilo was raised.
Now, she and her husband, Dane, live in Seven Oaks and have a blended family of three children and two grandchildren. They met through the Rotary Club of Wesley Chapel in 2012 and both have remained active in the club.
“I enjoy the service aspect of Rotary and enjoy serving the community,” she says. For example, in addition to being involved with the club’s local service projects, both Dr. Parilo and her husband have been part of the Rotary Club’s trips to Honduras to provide clean drinking water and latrines for families and schools in the mountainous and impoverished city of Troyes.
More Time With Patients
With the Direct Primary Care model, Dr. Parilo says the main advantage is the amount of time she can spend with each patient when needed, and that the time she spends with each patient is flexible to meet their needs, as well.
“I have time to talk with my patients’ specialists or spend an hour catching up with them if they’ve had a lengthy hospital stay,” she explains. “I can take care of my patients however they need to be taken care of.”
While that might be in person, at times, she notes that it also could mean via phone, via video conference or even via text. Dr. Parilo uses an app that maintains patient privacy and connects directly with the patient’s electronic medical record.
“Patients love it,” she says, adding that many times, her patients don’t want to leave work to come in for an appointment. “They can just send us a picture and we can respond.”
Dr. Parilo has just one person on her staff. Michelle Diaz is Dr. Parilo’s medical assistant and office manager. The two have worked together since 2010.
“My old patients have known her and loved her as long as they’ve known me,” Dr. Parilo says.
Daelyn Fortney is a Seven Oaks resident who began seeing Dr. Parilo shortly after KAP Medical Group opened. In the few months since then, Daelyn has brought her entire family to the practice. Now, Daelyn’s husband, three children, son-in-law and granddaughter are all Dr. Parilo’s patients.
“Dr. Parilo is a good doctor and a great person,” Daelyn says. “It’s almost like a partnership with her. Plus, you walk into the office and they actually know you. That (kind of service) has been lost in recent years.”
Daelyn adds that she had been frustrated trying to find the right primary care physician, and the time she saves with KAP Medical Group is worth every penny.
“We run our own business,” Daelyn says, “so our time is actually money, when we have to take time away from our business.”
Dr. Parilo says in some cases, Direct Primary Care may save her patients money.
“People don’t realize how much they’re spending before they get anything,” she explains. “You pay premiums whether you ever see a doctor or not.”
She says most people don’t have an old, traditional insurance plan where they can see any doctor they choose and pay a simple co-pay. Most patients have a high deductible they have to pay before the insurance company even begins to pick up the tab.
“At the end of the year,” she asks, “how much did you actually pay out of pocket?”
KAP Medical Group Direct Primary Care & Family Medicine is located at 2615 Windguard Cir., Suite 101, across Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd. from Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel. The practice is open Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. For more information, to set an appointment, or RSVP for the insurance Q&A session, visit KAPMedicalGroup.com, or call (813) 536-0050.