Houston’s luxurious MD² concierge medicine practice represents a shift in primary care

Inside a luxurious River Oaks office with a scenic view of downtown Houston, the physicians from the concierge medicine practice MD² are enjoying nearly every aspect of their switch to the increasingly popular model of care.

There’s just one notable exception.

“I hate the name,” Dr. Hal Condara said of “concierge medicine,” a term broadly used to describe a practice that charges a membership fee so doctors can devote more time and attention to a limited number of patients.

Condara is not alone in his opinion. His partner, Dr. Karen Baerenstecher, would “almost like to rename it.” Even MD² founder Dr. Howard Maron, credited with pioneering the model, dislikes the moniker.

The MD² doctors instead prefer to call it “medicine in the ideal.” Each treats just 50 families, which allows them to develop a closer relationship with each patient. Patients have the doctors’ cell phone numbers and can call them 24/7 with any questions or concerns. At most practices, a doctor’s visit lasts roughly 15 minutes; an annual physical at MD² might take two or three hours...