Working as a solo practitioner in primary care since 1988, Dr. David Edelson was running a successful practice seeing about 40 patients a day. But it didn’t take him long to see the flaws in this type of health care.
“I found myself more like a fireman putting out wildfires than a doctor. I was treating a lot of diseases and not individual patients,” he said. “To change that paradigm, I needed to find a better way to practice.”
In turn, he founded the award-winning HealthBridge Platinum Concierge in 1999, which also includes a private fitness center and a high-end medi-spa. This Great Neck concierge practice offers a wide array of health care services all under one roof. A monthly fee (starting at $249) provides members with unfettered access to one of four full-time primary care doctors who are accessible 24/7 via cell phone, virtual visits and email. They also get access to all the perks of the facility including a gym, unlimited visits to a registered dietician and discounts at the spa. The latter is also open to non-members and offers a slew of high-tech and innovative services, including the revolutionary VenusVersa machine. This machine’s safe, non-invasive treatments use three unique technologies that help clients achieve optimum aesthetic results.
“These are some amazing technologies that allow us to do a lot of things that plastic surgeons have been doing surgically. We do them non-surgically and get clinical results that are almost as good and sometimes even better,” he said.
Dr. Edelson spoke more about his concierge practice, the VenusVersa machine and the facility’s nationally recognized weight loss program.
How do you accomplish your goals at Health Bridge?
The facility itself is designed to provide one-stop shopping for all your healthcare needs. You have a complete medical facility with all top-rated physicians. We have the latest high-tech diagnostic equipment; we have a fully ICAEL certified cardiovascular testing and imaging center; we do body composition analysis and DEXA bone density, as well as metabolic testing.
Our goal is to actually detect disease before it’s really taken hold. With all these great technological advantages, we can identify things like early atherosclerosis and coronary disease way before a patient ever comes in with a heart attack or stroke. In terms of helping people stay healthy and fit, we also have an entire Wellness Center, which includes a full fitness facility staffed by two certified fitness trainers who work with people to improve their overall fitness and cardiovascular health. We have a physical therapy division, which deals with injuries. We have a full-time registered dietician who helps people with healthy eating. We have a Sleep Medicine Center that is fully certified by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Sleep disorders are a very underappreciated cause of illness, so being able to diagnose and treat them on-site is a major plus. We also offer stress management techniques such as yoga, acupuncture, reiki and qigong. And finally we have an entire medi-spa and aesthetics division because feeling good about your looks allows you to function at your peak level.
How many patients do you have?
Normally, a primary care physician carries upwards of 2,000 patients. In contrast, each doctor in the concierge model is limited to no more than 500 patients. Twenty percent of those slots are designated for scholarship patients who have special needs or don’t have the resources to afford the concierge fees. I myself have filled my capacity and currently have a waiting list; the other doctors still have some openings available. We want to spend high-quality time with our patients and be completely accessible.
How accessible are you to patients?
Accessibility to doctors has become so limited both in terms of trying to get an appointment with a physician, especially a primary care doctor where there is just a terrible shortage throughout the nation. Even if you find one it could be weeks before you get an appointment. Being what we call a concierge practice means we guarantee that you will get in either the same day or the next day. Or we can handle things directly on the phone because we know our patients so well and can save them a trip to the office. We block out at least half an hour for routine visits and a minimum full hour for the annual physicals.
What are some of the popular treatments the spa offers?
We have both a licensed aesthetician and a nurse practitioner. We are able to offer all the standard day spa treatments—everything from high-end facials and oxygen treatments to body wraps. But really where we are getting more into now is the high-tech skin care treatments, as well as Botox and dermal fillers.
What is special about the VenusVersa platform of treatments?
It is a multi-function machine that does a full array of incredible skincare treatments. It has three different major modalities. One is a nano-fractional radio frequency treatment that creates micropores through the skin into the lower dermis and takes cares of wrinkles, large pores, uneven skin textures, scars, acne and rosacea. It’s an updated version of the ablative therapy that plastic surgeons have been using for years. But this has much less tissue damage, much less downtime and gives virtually as good a result with much less trauma and much less discomfort in the treatment.
Another component is an Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatment that’s excellent for performing photofacials to even skin tone, remove small spider veins and reduce most kinds of excess skin pigmentation.
The third component to this machine is called the MP-squared (MP2) technology. It combines a multipolar radio frequency device that delivers heat energy deep into the fat and lower dermis, and combines that with a pulsed magnetic field that tightens the skin from the inside out. It both removes some excess fat and stimulates collagen deposition so as to tighten and contour skin, making it more youthful and firm.
How soon do people start seeing results?
It depends on the treatment. With the nano-fractional radio frequency, you can usually see results within a day. You’ll see changes in the skin, you’ll see tightening, you’ll see freshening. Usually with the nano-fractional, you do treatments once every month for three months. As the collagen rebuilds the results get better and better. With the intense pulse light you can see results usually within a few days—the changes in skin tone, the vascular lesions and the melanin disposition disappear within a few days. The body contouring takes longer and usually requires weekly treatments, six to eight weeks, before you see the full results.
What is the recovery period?
Very little! The nano-fractional is the one that will cause some redness and swelling the first day but usually by the end of the day, and certainly by the second day, you wouldn’t see anything more than a mild sunburn. The other nice addition to the Venus system is that they have a skincare line using advanced stem cell therapy, which is used in the post-treatment phase to speed healing and restore skin much more quickly. Usually you also want to avoid sun and use a sunblock for a week or two but then after that you’re pretty much back to normal.
Are there any myths about age-defying treatments you wish you could debunk forever?
So many people spend thousands of dollars a year on all these topical skin care treatments that claim to be able to reverse the aging process or be age-defying. The truth of the matter is there’s no topical therapy that really can change the underlying aging process, because much of it is happening below the skin line in the dermal and sub-dermal layers. Really you have to have treatments that penetrate and get into the deep layers of skin to stimulate collagen formation, tighten and form healthier bonds, while also resurfacing the overlying skin.
There is also loss of fat, muscle and some bone in the supporting facial structures that cause women to see flattening around the cheeks and deepening frown and marionette lines. We also offer dermal fillers and Botox because with women in their 40s, 50s, 60s there is often a lot of skin wrinkling and volume loss. Botox is excellent at minimizing lines in the upper face, while dermal fillers are remarkable at restoring the lost volume in the mid-face region which translates into much more youthful looking facial features.
HealthBridge Concierge is also known for its weight loss program. What is so special about it?
We have two board certified obesity medicine specialists—there are only about 2,600 worldwide. Obesity medicine is a whole new medical specialty that was just established in 2013. I think it’s something that’s been a very long time coming because with two-thirds of the county overweight and now 40 percent meeting the criteria for obesity, you have a large population of patients who have a highly treatable condition that when corrected can effectively reduce risk factors, reverse damage and in some cases resolve other related diseases, including high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, arthritis, cancer, as well as heart, liver and kidney diseases among many others.
Our facility is perfectly aligned with what my philosophy has been about weight loss, which is that you can’t just throw somebody on a drug or a crash diet and expect them to lose weight and keep it off for the long-term. You first need to understand what made that individual gain the weight in the first place. Then, you need a multi-modality approach with specialists in obesity medicine, nutrition, fitness and behavioral management that can help correct the underlying problems and guide patients on the road to better health and fitness. We have a unique team approach to weight loss where each practitioner is working in their area of expertise. We also have the ability to offer the latest state-of-the-art weight loss medications and surgical weight loss options. Finally, you need a facility that you can join and become a member for life, much like a health club, because obesity is a chronic, lifelong condition that requires a lifetime of care and support. That is the HealthBridge mission.