An Rx for America’s Healthcare Emergency

Dan Frogel, MD ’03

Dan Frogel, MD ’03, makes good on his passion to take medicine out of the hospital and into the community, supporting Einstein students along the way.

Dr. Dan Frogel had two “Aha” moments during his medical training.

Dan Frogel Interview

One, which occurred midway through his residency in internal medicine, was that he was pursuing the wrong specialty.

“At Einstein, I’d done my second-year rotation in emergency medicine, and looking back on that, I realized that being on the front lines fit my personality – I liked being a jack of all trades, pivoting from caring for a newborn baby to a patient with a gunshot wound or someone who’d had a stroke,” he recalls.

The other, which hit him during his subsequent second residency was that “there had to be a better way than the emergency room to provide access to care. There were just so many people in the ER who didn’t need to be there.”

A guy who completes two residencies to get things right doesn’t sit on his hands once he’s identified a problem. While still a resident, Dr. Frogel, as part of a group that included fellow Einstein alumnus Richard Park, MD ’99, co-founded the pioneering urgent care center chain that in 2010 became CityMD. He worked nights in the ER for three years until the business was fully up and running – “there were weeks when I didn’t sleep” – but it was clear from the beginning that the new venture was onto something bigger than the typical “doc in a box” that had been around since the 1970s.

“Originally, our value proposition was as an alternative to the ER,” Dr. Frogel says. “We promised our backers that through the corporatization of medicine we could drive down both the cost of care and inappropriate utilization of hospital services. But we also wanted to solve for access, so if we didn’t have the right person for them, we would connect patients to other systems and doctors.”

In 2019, building on the latter emphasis, CityMD merged with Summit Health, a comprehensive physician-driven network based in New Jersey. The immediate goal was to bring an urgent care approach to New Jersey, Dr. Frogel says, but CityMD’s centers also became “providers of holistic care, able to provide patients with a seamless journey, regardless of how they entered our system.”

He’s especially proud of the combined company’s service during the Covid pandemic, when the volume of patients at all urgent care centers grew by 60 percent.

“We committed to keeping our doors open and our staff safe, and to providing whatever equipment was needed,” he says. “We administered many tests and treatments, which kept a lot of patients out of the hospital and prevented the healthcare infrastructure from becoming even more overwhelmed. And as a result, we were also a measuring stick for what was going on with Covid. We knew the trends first, so the media covered us.”

In January 2023, Summit was acquired by Village MD, a national chain that aims to make the United States the global leader in health outcomes – a category in which, among developing nations, the U.S. currently ranks last, despite spending $4 trillion on healthcare annually. Many of Village MD’s centers are located in Walgreens pharmacies, with an emphasis on preventive care, particularly in lower-income communities.

Dr. Frogel, whose past roles focused more on business growth, is now in what he considers a “dream job”, serving as Chief Clinical Officer.

You might say “putting people first” runs in his family. “My father, who is a pediatrician, and my mother-in-law, who’s an internist, are both passionate about making themselves available to communities and patients,” he says. “My wife is also very involved in our community on Long Island. So, I’ve always had a passion to deliver the best quality care at the right price point, because our healthcare system is unsustainable. And having the opportunity, now, to establish an infrastructure is so rewarding.”

Dan Frogel and Joshua Nosanchuck

He credits Einstein, too, with focusing his attention on the need for access.

“One of the best things about being at Einstein is that you’re work with the underserved population of the Bronx. You’re learning basic clinical skills – like doing patient exams and taking a patient history – from hands-on caregivers and translating that into clinical applications. And the patients are so appreciative to have the attention of Einstein’s physicians and medical students, whereas in many other communities, that access is regarded as a forgone conclusion.”

Dr. Frogel’s connection to the College of Medicine runs deep, as both his father and brother (an anesthesiologist) are also alumni. He has made a generous scholarship gift that has been matched dollar for dollar by an anonymous donor.

“If you give charitably, you want to support students, because they’re our next generation of physicians, and they need to be focused on learning. So, the matching dollar aspect of the scholarship was a key incentive for me. When your donation is worth double for the recipient, that’s huge.”

His motivations go even deeper, aligning with his commitment to expanding access to care.

It’s so important to demonstrate to our students all the things they can do with a medical degree – including being a successful entrepreneur,” says Dr. Frogel, whose five young children are already considering medical careers. “Because easy, unlimited access to your provider has to be the model – a human right. And even though we’re a big company, we’re all about making healthcare local – something that happens around the corner.

Joe Levine