Direct Care Doctors

S. Carolina SPOTLIGHT: “His dream was to get to know his patients …”

Medicine returns “like the good old days”

By Pam Staples

Once reserved for the richest of the rich, more and more primary care and family physicians are launching concierge or “retainer” practices at rates more affordable for middle and lower income patients.

T. John Burrell, M.D., who prefers his patients call him John, or Dr. John, provides this type of personalized primary care… medicine “like the old days” at Irmo Primary Care.

When you walk into Dr. John’s office, it looks like a “regular doctor’s office” with a beautifully appointed reception area and waiting room. You are greeted by his medical assistant, Melinda Lane, or even sometimes by Dr. John himself at the front desk. Don’t expect to wait long or at all.

You will be escorted into one of four examining rooms almost immediately. If you call the office, a real person answers; there’s no answering machine, and you don’t have to “press one” to get a recording. And don’t worry about bringing your insurance card. Irmo Primary Care doesn’t accept insurance. But don’t let that deter you. Dr. John provides excellent medical care at affordable prices.

Insurance companies have become the third wheel in the doctor-patient relationship. Removing the influence of third-party payers allows Irmo Primary Care the freedom to treat patients without interference. It is able to act in the best interest of the patient and not the best interest of the insurance company’s bottom line. While Dr. John does recommend patients continue to carry a major medical plan to ensure financial assistance should hospitalization or referral to a specialist be necessary, he feels insurance is unnecessary for regular, general medical care.

Dr. John also works alongside leading health insurance companies throughout South Carolina that will provide custom plans for each patient’s insurance needs. If you need health insurance, he can help you find a company at a cost savings of 30 to 50 percent.

Here’s how it works at Irmo Primary Care… you sign up and are charged a monthly fee. For adults up to age 49, it’s $50 a month; for adults up to age 64, $65; for adults 65+ years, $80; and for children of an adult member, it’s $10 a month. This fee includes as many or as few office visits per month as you need, as well as access to Dr. John 24/7 by text message or email. Dr. John is also able to provide most prescriptions, lab work, x-rays, and more for pennies on the dollar.

Dr. John Burrell graduated magna cum laude with a B.S. in chemistry from Hampton Sydney College. He then received his M.D. degree from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine in Columbia. He completed his residency in family medicine at AnMed Health in Anderson, S.C.

After completing his residency, Dr. John began working in urgent care medicine. He soon realized the medical “status quo” was not doing a good job. Appointments were scheduled every 15 minutes, and after filling out paperwork, dealing with insurance forms, etc., there was only an average of eight minutes of face-to-face time with each patient. A doctor will see 30-40 patients a day. He learned that many doctors are becoming burned out with this hectic scheduling and are deciding more and more to take early retirement or getting out of medicine altogether. There is becoming a shortage of doctors all over the U.S.

Dr. John researched the concierge medical practice model, which has been growing all over the country since the 1990s and decided this was the road he wanted to take. His dream was to get to know his patients, be able to spend as much time as each patient needed, talk and listen to his patients, and to be there for his patients whenever they needed him. He wanted to be a doctor like doctors were in “the old days.”

He was the first concierge practice in the Columbia area. Fortunately, other physicians are following Dr. John’s lead with at least two other practices opening, and another investigating the possibility.

Dr. John opened Irmo Primary Care in June of 2015 with the plan to accept only up to 600 patients so he could provide personal care for and to get to know each one. In just over a year, he is providing medical care for approximately 400 patients and a busy day at the office is seeing eight patients.

Dr. John lives in Irmo with his wife, Jessica, twin daughters Grace and Sophie, and their dogs, Maggie and Anka.

Irmo Primary Care is located at 1 Wellness Boulevard, Suite 109 in Irmo. For more information, call 803-764-6484 or visit


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