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Dr. Dale Owen is at the forefront of change in Charlotte’s health-care industry.
Owen is a cardiologist and leader of Tryon Medical Partners, a physician-led independent practice based in Charlotte. Tryon Medical was formed when a group of about 90 doctors split off from Atrium Health’s Mecklenburg Medical Group in 2018. The practice has since grown to about 325 staff members and 100 physicians.
Tryon Medical opened its first offices in September 2018, following a legal battle to separate from Atrium. The practice now has eight offices in Ballantyne, Waverly, Pineville, Matthews, Steele Creek, SouthPark, uptown and Huntersville.
Owen, although at the head, views Tryon Medical’s founding and subsequent build-out as a team effort. Each of the doctors is a partner in the business and is held accountable for the offices and services provided.
“Physicians really did put it all on the line, and that’s a remarkable thing. It’s a cliche to say it’s inspiring, but it really is,” Owen said. “We’re setting a path that allows others to join us to do the right thing for humanity and for all the right reasons. I think it reaffirms what medicine is supposed to be all about.”
He sees more to the mission than setting up doctor’s offices for patients. Owen said the goal is to find a better way to provide care to patients at a lower cost — breaking out of the red tape and overhead costs that tie doctors’ hands in larger health-care systems, he said.
He said the number of patients who have joined the practice — almost 130,000 patients by the end of the year — is proof of its success so far. Last year, Atrium and Tryon Medical sent out a joint letter to 115,000 patients to inform them of the doctors’ plan to leave Mecklenburg Medical.
“Patients reaffirmed that we did the right thing,” Owen said.
Tryon will focus its future growth on primary care, he said, with plans to add more individual physicians and established practices. Owen said he’d like to see the group expand to as many as 250 doctors by the end of 2020. Along with traditional primary care, Tryon also provides cardiology, dermatology and pulmonology services. This month, it also added three rheumatologists in SouthPark, Ballantyne and Huntersville.
Owen said he hopes to reach 200,000 patients by the end of next year.
The practice is also planning to add more offices outside of Mecklenburg County and share its health-care model in other states. Owen declined to give more details.
“There’s plenty of room for change and innovation within the whole health-care system, and we are clearly a disruptive force in that process,” he said. “If you sit still, you’re just target practice.”
— Caroline Hudson