From Botox to IVs, Is Mobile Medicine L.A.'s Next Big Thing?
Courtesy Dr. Sal Nadkarni
You might have seen concierge doctors depicted on television shows such as Royal Pains and Rush. The same thing happens in every episode: A rich or famous person needs medical assistance, but if they go to a doctor or hospital, the press will find out. So, they summon their private physician, who just happens to be driving around with a hospital’s worth of medical equipment in the trunk of his or her car. The doc performs life-saving surgery in the privacy of someone’s living room. But in reality, concierge doctors aren’t on call for life-or-death emergencies and they don’t only serve the rich and famous.
In recent years, many doctors have chosen to forgo the traditional practice model to go concierge. Instead of dealing with the mess of insurance paperwork and less-than-adequate payouts, these physicians work on retainer fees as high as $10,000 to $15,000. This allows them to spend more time with a smaller number of patients, offering them truly individualized care.
However, several doctors in Los Angeles are carving out their own concierge niches, choosing not to work on retainer but instead offer a menu of à la carte services . Perhaps it’s the gig economy, but reasonably priced, accessible house calls are a service many Angelenos are glad to sign up for.
Dr. Sal Nadkarni, aka Dr. Sal, is currently the only physician marketing himself as a cosmetic concierge doctor. After completing his residency at Northwestern University Hospital in Chicago, he became the global medical director for the Botox division of Allergan in Orange County. He spent years studying less-than-glamorous uses for the drug including migraine headaches, excessive sweating, chronic pain and overactive bladder. After moving on from that position, he began to practice in a medical office downtown, but he wanted to do something with the MBA he'd earned at UCI while working in Orange County. After a great amount of research, he was “dumbfounded to discover, that while there were many concierge doctors, no one was doing this for cosmetics here in Los Angeles.”
Dr. Sal’s Rejuvenation in Motion takes the ever-popular medspa concept and makes it mobile. As you can imagine, he doesn’t exactly have a shortage of patients in this city. “My patient profile is 50 percent regular people and 50 percent celebrities/VIPs and other people in the entertainment industry,” he says, “It’s a lot of people who just don’t have time to go to the doctor and get these things done because they are away on the set for so long. Of course, it’s convenient.”
While many doctors are vying to star in their patient’s next Instagram post, Dr. Sal has the opposite approach. Instead of a lab coat, he wears a blazer and button-down shirt. Accessorizing with a plain black rolling suitcase to tote his medical equipment, he is easily mistaken for an attorney or accountant.
Injectables are Dr. Sal’s bread and butter, but he can do most procedures that don’t require a sterile environment, such as the PRP aka the Vampire Facial/Facelift. He also does microneedling, a collagen induction therapy, and Kybella, a neck-fat treatment. As medical equipment becomes more portable, Dr. Sal plans to increase his repertoire with Cool Sculpting and laser procedures.
But most concierge doctors work with people who have more urgent needs. Dr. Katrina Babcock and her business partner, Garrett BellRios, LVN (aka Nurse Garrett), started to offer house calls to expand their thriving medical practice, Rehab Wellness, a trendy medspa in West Hollywood.
Rehab is known for its custom and holistic vitamin infusion IVs. This treatment has medical benefits for the seriously ill, but most people who undergo infusions simply want to reverse their hangovers. While most people would gladly sign up for a quick hangover cure, the problem is that if the situation is severe enough to require medical attention, getting out of bed probably isn’t an option. Nurse Garrett realized offering home infusions was a better way to serve his patients. He outfitted his Range Rover with a refrigerator and began to offer IVs on demand.
But Rehab Wellness doesn’t simply cater to the over-indulged. Some of its patients have severe and chronic illnesses including lupus, shingles, rheumatoid arthritis and even cancer. For these situations, Dr. Babcock will work with insurance to cover the cost of the infusion. However, patients pay a reasonable fee out of pocket for the house call itself.
For patients, the fees are a small price to pay for the convenience and privacy of concierge service. But for medical professionals, it’s more than money; it’s about having the freedom to give a higher level of personalized care they are unable to give through a more traditional practice system.
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