Hilary Brueck, Insider: December 19, 2019
In the shadow of the World Trade Center in downtown Manhattan, right down the block from a Target store, there’s a secret emergency room, tucked away on the fifth floor of an office tower.
Here, Sollis Health is staffed 24/7 with doctors who are trained in emergency medicine. They’re on-call for an elite membership of hundreds of wealthy clients who pay to skip dealing with their local ERs, where staff say conditions are like a “war zone.”
“The ER system is broken, I think everybody agrees to that,” Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Center for Health Research, told Insider, saying the country’s emergency medicine system is misused, overused, and wildly expensive.
Patients often wait more than five hours to see a doctor in a regular New York City ER. But at Sollis Health, patients can spend as little or as long with their doctors as they want, and get most of the same type of emergency care they’d receive at a hospital in a fraction of the time.
On the Upper East Side Sollis also has an MRI machine on hand, but not here. (MRIs give more detailed images of organs and soft tissue than X-rays or CT scans can.)
“Those are very, very expensive,” Zuckerman said of the MRI, X-ray, and other imaging machines. “Unless you have a lot of patients, you’re going to have to charge an enormous amount of money for each one.”
Concierge services can make managing healthcare easier for patients with chronic health issues, young children, and older people.
Estimates suggest there are about 10,000 concierge doctors at work across the country.
“We can give care in the sort of one-to-one fashion that we think we would want for ourselves or we would want for our parents, when they’re sick,” Olanow said. “Basically, have the entire experience led by a physician.”
Ranging between $250 and upwards of $400 a month, the price of this kind of private care (which is billed as out of network) isn’t exactly a bargain, nor is it a particularly fair solution to the nation’s ER crisis.
“I can’t imagine this is the best solution, because it’s obviously only for people who can afford it,” Zuckerman said. “If you’re willing to spend a few thousand dollars to participate in this program, you have the money to make sure that you don’t have to wait very long for whatever it is you need.”