Fashion / Wellness

New Concierge Medical Practice in River Oaks Takes Personal Care to a Higher Level — What a $24,000 MD2 Membership Gets You

Getting Rolls-Royce Medical Care

BY // 12.15.22

The Rolls-Royce of concierge medical care has finally arrived in Houston with two of the city’s leading physicians helming the practice that is not only just as luxe as the Rolls but comparatively as expensive. The cost is $24,000 annually for the first family member with an additional $12,000 for a spouse. The price tag sounds extraordinary but for those with the means, MD2 (pronounced MD squared) represents the ultimate in physician care.

If time is money, then the value of this investment is unparalleled. For it is unlimited time and uninterrupted focus on each patient that sets this concierge practice apart from others and places it in the stratosphere compared to general physician practices, which can find doctors burdened with literally several thousand patients.

“I would say that we are the most powerful internal medicine network in the country if not the world,” says MD2 CEO Peter Hoedemaker, who jetted in from the firm’s headquarters in Seattle to discuss the new River Oaks clinic.

It is “for those who are highly mobile and want precision and the best of the best of the best in their life,” Hoedemaker notes.

As is standard in MD2’s medical centers across the country, there are two doctors in the Houston clinic. Internist Dr. Karen Baerenstecher and cardiologist Dr. Harold Condara Jr. will help no more than 50 families each at the uber chic office/clinic at 2001 Kirby Drive in River Oaks (think the vibe of a St. Regis Hotel). With this limited number of patients, the doctors are able to take calls at any time, schedule appointments around patients’ schedules, conduct all manner of tests on site and spend unimagined time with each patient.

Their cellphones are available 24/7. If a MD2 patient is referred to a specialist, the doctor can accompany them to the appointment, help explain test results and provide moral support.

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The nationwide network of distinguished doctors was established in Seattle in 1996 as a pioneering concierge medical practice by Dr.  Howard Maron, the former team doctor for the former Seattle Supersonics.

Houston becomes the 19th MD2 practice in the country and the third in Texas. Dallas has had an office for a decade while Austin’s only had for two years. A second Austin office is already in the works due to high demand. The company is in expansion mode and will soon have 27 concierge medical practices across the country.

Dr. Harold Condara Jr. pivoted from specialization as a cardiologist to join the MD2 Houston offices in River Oaks. (Photo courtesy of MD²)
Dr. Harold Condara Jr. pivoted from specialization as a cardiologist to join the MD2 Houston offices in River Oaks. (Photo courtesy of MD²)

“With all of our doctors, they are doctors with distinction who are absolutely passionate about medicine,” Hoedemaker says. “They went into medicine with medicine in the ideal. They really wanted to be Marcus Welby. They just want to be a part of your family . . . They all love patient care.”

Condara agrees adding that he had thought he was going to be a family practice physician. But then cardiology captured his imagination.

“I like the procedures and the going and blowing of cardiology, but I always found that my favorite thing other than doing my procedures was getting to know my families and taking care of them,” Condara says. “And some families for even four generations.”

Not an easy task with his patient count that at any given time numbered from 3,500 to 4,000.

Baerenstecher was already preparing for a concierge medicine post when she was approached by MD2. As is the case with all participating doctors, they are recommended by physicians who are already in the system, guaranteeing the highest level of distinction. Her recommendation came from Dallas.

“I quickly saw the difference between my colleagues who were taking care of 500 patients in one concierge model versus me being able to take care of 50 families,” Baerenstecher says. “The time difference that I have with my families is significant. You have the time to give your full attention to your patients.

“And that’s what I want, to be able to give the best quality of medical care that I can. And it takes time. My goal was to be able to spend more time with my patients and this just took it to the highest level.”

The practice is particularly beneficial for those few who enjoy second homes and travel frequently, often internationally. MD2 members have access to participating physicians across the country. If members are in a location without an office, member physicians with their personal knowledge of experts and specialists across the globe can make the needed referrals. MD2 prepares medical travel kits for its patients and has connections with pharmacies around the world. The membership even includes medical jet evacuation service.

The initial visit with an MD2 physician is like no other doctor visit. Baerenstecher says that the first appointment with an MD2 doctor ranges from two to three hours with testing and discussions. Prior to the visit, the doctor obtains the patient’s medical records, reviews them ahead of time, “does the necessary homework” and prepares before the visit.

“Even in a regular concierge practice, I would never had had the time for this,” she notes.

Hoedemaker calls it “a mind-boggling change in patient care. When you change the experience, you change the relationship and the relationships are so important to us.”

Inside the MD2 Concierge Offices

The aesthetics of the office are also unlike any doctor’s office you’ve likely ever seen. Lavish millwork, beautiful blonde paneling, custom artwork, tile and marble flooring, and plush over-stuffed seating evoke a luxurious homelike feeling. The clinic includes a private shower room for use after treadmill testing. Breakfast is available for those with an early morning appointment or blood draw.

Doctor’s office at MD2 Housto n; Photo courtesy of MD²
The physicians’ personal offices at MD2 in River Oaks resemble more of a home office than the typical doctor’s office. (Photo courtesy of MD²)

Although there is a completely outfitted exam room (only one as no two patients are scheduled to be seen at the same time or ever overlap), the doctors’ offices resemble more a home office with sophisticated furnishing.

While MD2 does not offer pediatric care, adult children aged out of pediatrics up to age 26 can be included for an additional $4,000 per year. From age 27 to 36, adult children can be included for another $12,000 annually. The retainers are billed monthly so there is no need to pay the full amount on signing up.

Insurance and Medicare are not accepted, but are necessary for procedures that are out of the scope of the MD2 clinic.

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