An Rx for the Ultra Rich
If health is wealth, medical clubs are the new gold standard for the elite. And privacy counts as currency.
Members-only clubs have long been a playground for the rich and famous. But in the age of Covid, the places to be, and be seen, weren’t social ones. Instead, demand surged for elite and discreet health clinics. Welcome to the exclusive world of high-tech, white-glove medical clubs.
Basically concierge medicine on steroids, a new crop of establishments including Sollis Health in Tribeca and the Upper East Side, Oakwood Precision Concierge Medicine in the West Village, and Forward Healthcare in Midtown, have invested millions of dollars to provide clients with the most up-to-date diagnostic equipment—in addition to the traditional VIP bells and whistles that come with their high price tags.
Sollis Health, on East 77th Street is, the buzziest of the group, with members like Sienna Miller, Ralph Lauren, Sting, Frieda Pinto, Chris Rock, and Donna Karan paying $3,000 a year (or $8,000 for a family membership). Sollis doesn’t replace your primary care doctor, but it does promise to replace harrowing trips to the ER, and will even administer an MRI on Christmas Eve. Oakwood, an integrative medicine practice for men on Perry Street, only costs $1,500/month (gulp) and runs over 100 blood tests and biomarkers the minute you walk through the door.
Much like having your own G6, one never has to mix and mingle with strangers in the waiting room of a medical club. As a member, you’re guaranteed that the press or a nosy neighbor will never find out about, say, your positive Covid-test result or sugar allergy. Sollis staff all sign non-disclosure agreements for complete confidentiality; one can request NDAs from Oakwood. “Privacy is hard to come by these days,” says Sollis member Waris Ahluwalia, an actor and designer. “My medical needs and history should be private.”
“Members-only means that you’re not just a set of symptoms or a chart on the wall,” lauds Sollis co-founder Ben Kruger, a former Hollywood producer. (The other partners are financial analyst Andrew Olanow and Ben’s father, Dr. Bernard Kruger, an oncologist whose Upper East Side practice counts Hugh Jackman and Bradley Cooper as patients.)
Launched in 2019, Sollis recently announced a $30 million Series A funding round to support tech optimization and patient growth. They have 8,000+ members nationwide in tony hotspots like Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Miami, Palm Beach, and The Hamptons—where their summer pop-up was so in-demand, it’s now become a permanent fixture.
“As a Sollis member, you have 24/7 access to ER physicians, on-site labs, and advanced imaging equipment with no appointment needed and zero wait-times,” says Kruger. “This stands in stark contrast to traditional ERs where the average wait time is five hours.” (The Chuck Close paintings, Desmond and Dempsey luxury pajamas and plant-based meals from Sakara Life don’t hurt either.)
“It’s definitely a luxury product,” admits Sollis member Amanda Taylor. “I vacillate on whether it’s really worth it. It’s kind of where you’d go if you don’t want to go to Urgent Care. But if you’re in a catastrophic car accident, that’s not where you’re going to go.”
Sollis did come to Taylor’s rescue after a bike mishap in the Hamptons: “I flew over my handlebars. Sollis sent a doctor to the house. He was great. He looked me over and I didn’t have a concussion, just some bumps and bruises and scrapes.”
Ahluwalia, too, was impressed with the care he received during a late-night emergency: “It was 2 a.m., I woke up with excruciating pain, and Dr. Google wasn’t exactly helping,” he remembers. “Hunched over in pain, I practically crawled over to Sollis and within minutes, had an IV, painkillers, and a CAT scan. Not to mention a private suite, where a doctor gave me my diagnosis: kidney stones. He also gave me a prescription right on the spot to help my pain. And instead of waiting weeks to see a specialist, I had an appointment with one of NYC’s best specialists as soon as the pain subsided.”
Last fall, Dr. Jake Deutsch, the former ER doctor with a chiseled face who’s a regular on New York’s A-List social scene, opened Oakwood, because “guys don’t spend enough time on their health.” Deutsch has been “biohacking” for years, a practice he describes as “taking biology into your own hands.”
“Figuring out how to get ahead of your health, whether it’s using devices or techniques like intermittent fasting or replacing hormones, using peptides… is a new concept for most people,” he notes. After a comprehensive first evaluation, and myriad blood tests, a body scan is repeated monthly to track progress.
Oakwood also sells a slew of nutraceuticals with clever names like “Suns Out Guns Out” (Vitamin D3) and “Dude Pill” (an herbal supplement to support prostate health). “The supplements are critical. Many of them are the foundations for what we are trying to correct, whether it’s electrolytes or vitamin and hormone deficiency,” Deutsch explains.
Most of Oakwood’s members are highly successful, alpha men in their 30s, 40s and 50s. Rumble Boxing co-founder Noah Neiman, 37 is a prime example. “I am obsessed with Doc Jake,” Neiman gushes, citing the benefits he’s already seen. “After identifying some key chemical, hormonal imbalances through not just blood work, which I’ve had done before, but with his keen eye interpreting that work, he was able to get me on a nutraceutical supplement stack with one simple pharmaceutical pill that has me feeling and performing better in all arenas than I have in almost a decade.”
Sollis and Oakwood are definitely the clubs to join if you don’t blink twice at the bar tab at Casa Cipriani. For the more health and cost conscious consumer, there is Forward Health, a Silicon Valley startup that costs just $150 a month—cheaper than a gym membership to Equinox.
Forward’s sleek Madison Avenue clinic, with blonde wood walls and a futuristic 3D body-scanning, biometric-assessment machine (used to establish a health baseline and determine risk level for various diseases and medical conditions) feels like a set from Black Mirror.
“People walk into our exam room and go, ‘oh my god, I’ve seen the future’,”Adrian Aoun, the 36-year-old founder and CEO of Forward, explains. Aoun is a futurist; he previously helped create and build Google’s AI division. Members also get 24/7 access to medical professionals through an app—a hypochondriac’s dream.
Forward recently raised $225 million in Series D funding to expand its tech-powered healthcare model across the country. Pop star The Weeknd was so impressed after visiting one location, he invested in the round. Google chairman Eric Schmidt is also an investor.
Forward’s goal is to become the doctor’s office of the future, where tech and medicine meet to both treat and prevent illness by identifying risks and addressing them—proactively. Aoun hopes it will one day replace the traditional doctor office altogether. “We were in about eight geographies before Covid. Now we’re probably double that, launching one new location every few weeks,” he reports.
In Aoun’s own words, it looks like “we’re off to the races.”
This article was originally published on March 17, 2022; it was updated on May 23, 2022, with new information about Sollis’ Hamptons clinic.
Piggy bank doc photo, Malamus-UK; other art courtesy of Sollis Health and Oakwood Precision Concierge Medicine.