It was only an offhand remark, but it triggered alarm bells in the nurse. Her patient, a wealthy, middle-aged man, had missed something she’d said, even though she was standing right next to him. His hearing shouldn’t be that poor, she thought, and flagged the doctor, who ordered a baseline hearing test for the client, alongside an MRI scan of the brain. And that’s when they found it: a very small lesion, a non-cancerous tumor, sitting on the nerve right by that ear. After a small surgical procedure, the patient’s hearing was entirely restored.
That’s just one of the success stories Gemma Frenchman touts for Preventicum (preventicum.co.uk), her elite, discreet clinic in central London. The slick, two-story medical office more resembles a five-star boutique hotel than fusty Harley Street consulting rooms; it has become a global mecca for wellness-seeking one-percenters, who flock here for its in-depth health assessment that uses multiple techniques, from bloodwork to MRIs, to provide a check-up more comprehensive than any ordinary annual physical. The clinic offers two versions of this once-over: its six-hour, $8,000 Ultimate Assessment is the most popular, while those with specific concerns and goals can opt for additional tests in the eight-hour, $10,300 Elite Assessment. It’s possible to piece together its battery of tests, but nowhere else offers such a streamlined process.
It’s been operating in London since 2005, when Frenchman, then a young entrepreneur, heard about the concept in Germany, and imported the idea. She was convinced it could occupy a new niche, one less aimed at treating problems and more geared to anticipating and preventing them—hence the name (Frenchman sold the business to InHealth, a major conglomerate, but returned in 2022 to run it once again). Walking around its rooms with her, she’s a sunny, evangelical presence, keen to showcase the various techniques and know-how of her staff: the clinic has 10 part-time PCPs, plus three radiologists and various nurses. “Even if we’re packed, you will not see any of the other clients,” she says of the discretion-emphasizing design of its eight client rooms.
Over the course of the six- or eight-hour assessments, which most Preventicum regulars undertake yearly, clients undergo a full-body MRI, which looks at soft tissues like liver and the brain, plus bloodwork, and ultrasounds—male patients will have their testicles checked this way, for example. There are echocardiograms, and exercise tests for the heart, plus mole checks, and even mental health assessments, all overseen by staff like that smart nurse who are trained to notice even the smallest detail. Those opting for the Elite checkup will also have gait analysis and an MRI of their spine, among other add-ons.
Up to half of appointments are with clients whose companies have corporate deals with the clinic, but the rest are private individuals from around the world; gender split is roughly equal, and Frenchman says that the starting age for checkups has dropped since she founded the clinic—it’s now typically late 30s rather than 40s. By day’s end, the client can leave with all results, which will also be shared with their PCP. Anything that Preventicum uncovers, it will help address. “We do everything up to a certain line, then we manage everything after it, even if we don’t do it ourselves,” she says. “We don’t want clients leaving here knowing new things [about their health] but not how to deal with them.”
That could mean making appointments with specialists back in America or the Middle East—many of her regulars fly in for their check-ups—or rushing someone to a specialist, as she did with one well-known British businesswoman. She discovered an aneurysm in her brain via Preventicum, a reasonably commonplace condition that can sometimes cause no issues; if it ruptures, though, results can be life-altering or fatal. She was booked to see a neurosurgeon on the same day, who used minimally invasive endovascular coiling to eliminate it for her.
Frenchman says that the key for her clinic is twofold: top-notch medical care and first-class service, coming together for a single goal. “It’s about reassurance and peace of mind.”