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Concierge Medicine: Checking in With XOJET’s Partner, Private Medical

 

“There are 10 to 15 thousand concierge doctors in the U.S. today,” says Dr. Jordan Shlain, a Georgetown-educated physician, pioneer in the field of on-demand, concierge medicine, and Founder & CEO of Private Medical. “If we draw a comparison to the aviation industry, the average consumer has a lot of commercial options. But a consumer who is focused on quality of experience is looking at the much narrower field of private aviation.”

As a partner of XOJET, Shlain’s organization—a group of 20 world-class doctors—aptly falls within the high-touch, private aviation category. Each doctor is dedicated to a limited number of patients, eliminating the un-personalized, mass-produced nature of transactional medicine while solving one of its most glaring deficiencies: five-star service.

Launched in 2002 after working as a concierge doctor at luxury hotels in San Francisco, Shlain’s concept gives high-net-worth individuals and families unprecedented control over their personal healthcare and wellness. A yearly fee grants on-demand access to a dedicated medical team—including a top-tier physician and nurse(s)—as well as detailed health monitoring, reporting, and analysis of their personal health and physical condition. The ultimate goal: Get to know each client personally, understand their backgrounds and pre-existing conditions, and prevent any potential health problems well before they arise.

To find out more about this innovative company and the growing movement of concierge medicine, XOJET spoke with Dr. Shlain at Private Medical’s headquarters in San Francisco. Here’s what we learned:

How did you get the idea for Private Medical?

After finishing my residency training in internal medicine here in San Francisco in 1997, I was offered a great job with a 78-year-old private practice doctor who was on the precipice of retiring; yet, like most older doctors he just could not retire and sadly, there wasn’t room for 2 doctors in a solo doctors practice, so I wound up leaving.

I walked down the street and into a coffee shop. As I was having some tea trying to figure out what to do with my life, I soon realized was in a luxury hotel—then the Mandarin Oriental—something I had never experienced growing up.

I went up to the hotel’s concierge desk and asked them if there’s a doctor they call when someone gets sick. She said, “Who are you?” and I said, “Well, I could be doctor you call when someone here gets sick.”

So she says, “Look, with all due respect, I may be one-star smart but everything we do here is five-star service. You’re a doctor, so you’re probably five-star smart, but everything you do is one-star service. The people who stay here—presidents of countries, diplomats, movie stars, basketball players, and CEOs of Fortune 500 companies—are paying $800 plus per night. So if you want to tend to them, you need to understand five-star service.”

So I looked at her, and asked, “Can you teach me?”

Eventually she took me under her wing and I was trained under the Mandarin Oriental training ethos. I soon became the doctor for the Mandarin and took care of lawyers, senators, governors, CEOs—you name it. I realized the value of personalized service and the satisfaction of strong relationships with my patients.

I soon went to the Ritz Carlton and established a similar situation there. At this point, my group’s commitment to accessibility and service had established us as the premier concierge practice in San Francisco.

Then, all of a sudden, September 11th happened and our business quickly went to zero—people were no longer traveling and staying in hotels. It also didn’t help that the Internet bubble, frothy in San Francisco, burst.

That’s how this business evolved. To re-invent myself, I started a subscription-based business for people who lived in San Francisco. I wanted to take care of families and I wanted to do it in a way that was comprehensive, preventative, and holistic. So I hired a pediatrician, a naturopathic who blended east-west techniques, and we started signing up families for yearly memberships.

When people talk about concierge medicine, I find us somewhat humorous as I learned the nuance of 5-star concierge service from five-star concierge.

For those who aren’t familiar with concierge medicine, how do you explain it?

Concierge medicine lives in a small niche, nested within the $3.6 trillion world of transactional medicine. This is the highest quality healthcare and level of medical personalization that exists on the face of the planet. When I was seeing 30 patients a day, I felt like I could never finish a sentence before I had another patient waiting. As concierge doctors, we can get to know the patient personally, give them all the time they deserve, and share the full extent of our medical knowledge.

The way it works is, every patient is assigned their very own doctor and medical team who is available to them around the clock, meets them wherever they are, and works tirelessly on their behalf. Our goal is to give our families peace of mind. It is not just about the big moments where patients need immediate medical care; it is about enabling people to live a healthy life by thinking about their future and preventing pre-existing conditions from becoming dangerous. If you have the means and really value your health, it’s a phenomenal investment. We have had a 99%+ retention rate for the past 15 years.

As the top tier of concierge medicine, how is Private Medical different from its competitors?

Private Medical is different in a number of ways. First, we take care of entire families and become the trusted health advocate, advisor to many generations. We focus on getting to know each individual and getting in-depth testing to have a baseline assessment. Second, we have priority access to elite specialists from the leading medical institutions in the US and the world. Thirdly, we think far in the future about your health. The physiologic operating system that enables life is very predictable. We know that by paying close attention to the contemporaneous physiologic variables, we can mitigate long-term health consequences by putting a strategic plan in place for the upcoming month, year, and decade.

Private Medical

Photo: Olu Eletu

Most practices that offer high-end concierge services are doing a great job at providing access and time with their doctor by limiting the number of patients. Private Medical, on the other hand, has built an entire medical program tailored to each individual and an entire team of medical professionals to oversee the plan. We have a full-time gynecologist that oversees a comprehensive women’s health program that includes comprehensive counseling and expertise from menarche to menopause. Lastly, the biggest difference is that Private Medical is dedicated to being proactive and preventative. While we cannot prevent cancer, we can be smart about the frequency of testing and catch it early—and prevent it from killing you.

We spend a considerable amount of our time thinking about our patients when they are not in front of us. Most all other concierge practices are reactive; that is, they are waiting for the phone to ring. We really dig in to think about our patients’ future and become the organizing entity for all things health and wellbeing. I’m your advocate, so whenever we send you to a specialist, that specialist has to talk to me. They don’t understand all the nuances about you, so that’s what we provide. Think of us as the repository.

The bottom line is, we want you to live your life and not have to worry about health. We meet internally about you to discuss how we can best serve you. We’re also looking at all the new research and findings in medicine and deciding how to best apply it to our patients.

Why do you do this work?

We do it because it’s the best way for patients to be cared for and it’s the best way for doctors to practice medicine. It fosters the most respect for people, the best results for patients, the best relationships for everyone, and the most professional satisfaction for doctors.

My goal is to build an organization that outlasts me. I didn’t put my name on this company because I didn’t want it to be about me; I wanted it to be about the patient. When you come to our offices, there’s no diploma hanging on the wall or family pictures; it’s not about us. It’s all about the patient and we’re building a brand whose only lasting legacy will be that commitment to serve the patient first.

How do you select your doctors?

Because we set such high standards, finding great doctors is the most important—and most difficult—job at Private Medical. Our formula for success is, finding a highly gifted doctor who has graduated from an elite medical school and has been honing their expertise, yet tired of the transactional, volume-based medicine model. They want to be the doctor they always wanted to be, not limiting their impact under the time restrictions of too many patients.

Once we hire a great doctor, working at Private Medical really fulfills their potential. We have 20 doctors and we’ve never lost one. They’re the happiest they’ve ever been because they can fully use their knowledge and resources.

Are there different tiers of membership or one, all-inclusive cost?

There are a number of practices that offer tiers of memberships, but we offer one, all-in fee that covers all of our services. We have one tier because we believe in our model as aligning patient, doctor, and practice incentives around a real relationship.

How do you see the company evolving in coming years?

We love our model where each doctor has a very limited number of patients. That’s what keeps this bespoke and intimate.

We believe that any growth should benefit both existing members and new patients. For instance, we did hire a gynecologist last year so now we have women’s health as a new layer of our program. We may continue to grow in this way by adding to our wellness program in ways that engage patients more deeply in natural modalities to improve their health, like more emphasis on exercise, performance physiology, and nutrition.

Anytime there’s something new or cutting-edge, we can test it and give our patients early access. Along the same lines of adding to everyone’s experience, we are always looking for new technologies to enhance experience and outcomes. We have privileged access to new technologies. Anytime there’s something new or cutting-edge, we can test it and give our patients early access.

Lastly, from a geographic standpoint, we’re always working to expand our availability to patients. On top of our offices in Beverly Hills, Silicon Valley, and San Francisco, we’re also in the process of planning a New York office. Private Medical has close relationships with doctors in 203 cities around the world, so if you’re in Tokyo or Prague and something happens, we can connect you and coordinate the highest standards of medical care.

How do you split your time personally? Are you still involved as a doctor?

I love being a doctor and will never leave the healing arts. It is the most fascinating time to be a doctor with all the advances in genomics, stem cell therapy, and sci-fi like biotechnology. I am still one of the busier doctors in the practice and have patients that have been with me for over 15 years. Sure, I’m involved on the business side in a strategy capacity. It’s important that we grow at the speed of quality. We have no investors and are not driven by profits; rather, we are driven by the quality of our doctors, the experience of our patients, and the rigor of adopting best practices.

How do Private Medical and XOJET align as partners?

XOJET is all about high service and high convenience. Each client’s time is valuable and anything that makes time less valuable is intrusive. Both of our companies are trying to limit resistance, get to know the client personally, and provide them with the best possible solution. XOJET is getting people from here to there and we’re actually doing the same thing—but from a health care standpoint, not geographically. I think we can really learn from each other and challenge ourselves to constantly improve our service and client commitment.

 


 

*Header image courtesy of castaldostudio.