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Hospitals vs. Concierge Medical Practices for Executive Health Programs

Executive Health

More and more top employers are offering executive health programs, also known as executive physical or corporate health programs, to keep their most important employees healthy, happy, and productive. While some companies only offer them to executives (hence the name), other companies are discovering the value of offering them beyond the C-Suite, from top salespeople, to directors, to just anyone with an indispensable skill set.

Maybe you are a small business CEO who can’t afford to have a major health problem. Or you might be an HR director trying to attract and retain top talent. No matter the size of your company, an executive health program can be a valuable benefit to offer your most critical employees.

But now that you’re interested in adding an executive health program to your benefits package, how do you get started? A quick google search probably shows you two primary options for executive health providers — hospitals or boutique concierge medical practices.

Executive Health: Explore Your Options

Within the hospital category, you have mega-hospitals like the Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic and regional health systems like Inova in Northern Virginia or Emory in Atlanta. Mega-hospitals attract patients from all over the world, while regional health systems tend to be the dominant healthcare provider within their region and draw their patients from that area.

Boutiques are smaller and more locally focused, but can also draw executives from several regions depending on what makes sense for the company. PartnerMD is one example of a boutique practice. Boutiques see far fewer patients and offer a more intimate atmosphere when compared to the larger hospital systems, while still providing the benefits of an advanced executive physical exam.

We’ve been a leader in executive health for more than 17 years. Our corporate clients run the gamut from large corporations to small, family-owned businesses. We’ve worked with numerous companies who came to us after experiencing executive health at a larger hospital, and we’ve had companies choose to use one of the larger hospitals instead of us when they have large numbers of leaders spread across the country and globe.

We’ve identified six major differences between executive physical programs offered at larger hospitals and health systems and those offered at boutique practices like ours. Those differences are:

  1. Prestige and Reputation of the Medical Practice
  2. Number of Patients Served
  3. Time Commitment
  4. Cost of the Executive Physical Exam
  5. Budget Controls
  6. Customization of the Physical

We want you to choose the best executive health program for your company. To do that, you need as much quality information as you can get. Read on to find out more about all the major differences.

1. Prestige and Reputation of the Medical Practice

Places like the Mayo Clinic, the Cleveland Clinic, or Johns Hopkins are internationally recognized healthcare facilities. They have provided excellent care for patients for decades and employ some of the top doctors and researchers in the world.

If you’re thinking about choosing a program at one of these facilities, the value of their prestige and reputation is going to outweigh everything else on this list. As you will find out, mega-hospitals offer a less intimate experience, are more expensive, often require more time, vary in the amount you can count on paying, and are less flexible with their customization options.

So why would you pick a program at one of these mega-hospitals? Because when it comes down to it, they are known around the world for a reason. Their prestige and reputation speaks for itself. If that’s the most important thing for your company and your employees, then they are probably the right choice for you.

Will your employees appreciate having the ability to go to an elite medical facility? Will they make healthier choices if they are recommended by, say, a doctor at the Mayo Clinic? Will being able to say you send employees to one of these hospitals help you recruit and retain top talent?

Answering these questions will help you understand how much you value the prestige of a mega-hospital and will help you weigh that value against the rest of the differences on this list.

Now, top doctors are also prevalent at both regional health systems and boutique practices. The difference is they just aren’t going to have the brand name recognition that comes with practicing medicine at one of the world’s most famous hospitals. That doesn’t mean they are any less of a doctor – it just means they’ve taken a different career path.


2. Number of Patients Served

In 2018, the Mayo Clinic employed nearly 5,000 physicians and scientists and had approximately 1.2 million patients, according to their website. According to a Forbes article from 2017, they did 7,000 executive physicals that year.

Regional health systems, while not household names throughout the world, treat a similar amount of people, if not more. For example, Inova’s 18,000 employees treat more than two million people annually. As far as the experience for your employees, it’s simple math. Seeing that many patients makes it difficult for mega-hospitals and regional health systems to provide a personal, intimate experience for everyone.

At a boutique practice, the entire model is based on having fewer patients, which allows time for more focus and personalization. Boutique practices might have just a solo practitioner or a handful of doctors, and the number of patients they see each year is in the hundreds. This allows for a more intimate experience than one offered at a hospital dealing with thousands of patients each day.

3. Time Commitment

One of the biggest differences between the mega-hospitals and the regional health systems or boutique practices is the potential time commitment. And it’s not about the length of time your employees are spending at the facility getting the physical. Most providers do offer some form of a one-day physical these days.

The big difference comes when you factor in time spent traveling. Most boutique concierge practices are practically in your backyard. A regional health system may be as well, or it might be an hour or so away, but it’s still in your region.

But for most, choosing a mega-hospital means you are committing to additional travel time and cost. While the healthcare professionals at these mega-hospitals can get you in and out of the facility in a day, your employees will likely have to fly in or drive in the day before, and they might spend the entire day afterward traveling back as well.

That means you can expect a 2-3 day commitment once travel is factored in. Regional health systems are probably within a day’s drive and boutique practices are likely even closer, reducing the need for extended travel. If you’re aiming to reduce the time your employees spend out of commission, using a mega-hospital might not fly.

4. Cost of Executive Physical Exam

As with any business decision, cost is a huge factor. And with any executive health program, you need to think about the full cost, which includes the actual executive physical exam and tests, as well as travel.

At a mega-hospital or regional health system, an executive physical ranges anywhere from $3,000-$10,000. For example, the least expensive physical at Emory Healthcare, a regional health system in Atlanta, for a 40-44 year old female is $3,186.

If you select a program that requires travel — either by plane or by car — and overnight stays at a hotel, be sure to factor travel costs into your budget. And that’s before the cost of the employee not working for two or three days.

At a boutique concierge medical practice, the cost of an executive physical ranges from $750-$4,000. At PartnerMD, the cost is between $950 and $3,900. In addition, you are likely saving on travel costs and time spent outside the office.

5. Budget Controls

One key variation to keep in mind is cost expectancy. At any hospital — whether it’s a mega-hospital or regional health system — the physician conducting the annual physical can order any test or prescribe any medication on the spot. Because of insurance rules, those additional tests or prescriptions would probably not be covered by insurance. So if your company is looking to balance a budget and manage costs, this can be problematic if the $3,000 physical you expected turns into a $4,500 physical.

Most boutique concierge medicine practices will not order additional tests or prescribe medication on the spot, unless the employee is a member of the practice for the same reason – cost control. However, if the employee is a member, the test or prescription is more likely to be covered by insurance.

This means at a boutique concierge medical practice, you can be confident in what each physical will cost. The price you see is the price you will get.

Of course, additional tests and medication can help improve the health of your employees and maybe even save their lives, so the potential for unexpected costs might be well worth it. But if you’re a small company working with a fixed budget or an HR director trying to manage costs within an appropriate range, you may want to take this into account.


6. Customization of Executive Programs and Physicals

And lastly, we’ve come to customization options. This covers not only clinical options such as tests and specialist evaluations, but also customization options for the business in how the program is structured. It’s important to think about what is important for your company and your employees, and also how you can structure the program so it best aligns with your business goals.

Clinical Customization (Tests, Evaluations, etc.)

Most providers offer a range of tests and different packages to choose from. This represents your traditional physical exam and any additional standard tests offered, such as mammograms, HPV tests, heart screens, stress tests, etc. The main factor that influences how many customization options are available is the volume of patients seen each year.

Mega-hospitals and regional hospitals, because they see so many patients each day, look to streamline the process by offering a consistent set of physicals with variations based on age and gender. They feature a few customization options available for each patient. Your employees also likely won’t get to replace a test if, say, you had your bone density or chest x-ray last year and don’t need it again this year. It just doesn’t happen that year (and you may end up paying the same price as the year you did get it).

Boutique providers, because they see far fewer patients, can spend the resources customizing each physical for each employee, based on what they need and want to accomplish. They also are able to substitute other options in subsequent years to make sure each test you get is useful and valuable.

One clinical customization option to keep an eye on is the stress test. Many advanced physicals offer the stress test using the traditional method — on a treadmill to measure your heart rhythm, blood pressure, and breathing during physical activity. This test is great for learning more about a known issue, but it will not predict the likelihood of a future event or illness.

For this reason, while the treadmill test remains useful in certain situations, we believe a CT Heart Scan, which determines the area and density of the calcium in your heart, can be a better indicator of your current and future risk for a disease, heart attack, or stroke. Both can be useful tools in the healthcare toolbox, but it is a good example of an advanced customization option that might differentiate one executive health program from the next.

Corporate Customization

As a company, the primary decision when designing an executive health program is how many employees to include in the program. Is it just for your C-Suite executives? Might other top performers get included? Or does it make sense to offer a corporate health program company-wide?

The big difference between mega-hospitals, regional health systems, and boutique practices comes in how the program is managed. Here are some key questions to consider:

  • Among your participants, for whom is a physical mandatory and for whom is it optional?
  • Are there specific physicals for each group of participants?
  • Will the results of the physical be kept confidential or will they need to be shared with the company’s leadership team or board of directors?

The size and number of patients at mega-hospitals and regional health systems make it hard to effectively manage that level of detail. Most employ a one-size-fits-all approach. For boutique concierge practices, it is much easier.

For example, at PartnerMD, we frequently work with companies to design programs such as:

  • Mandatory Signature (8-hr) physical for all C-Suite executives with results reported to board of directors.
  • Optional Enhanced (5-hr) physicals for the next level of leadership and top performers, results confidential.
  • Optional Classic (2-hr) physicals for all employees and sometimes even spouses.

Next Steps Before Choosing an Executive Health Program

Now that you know what differentiates each executive health provider, you’re one step closer to making the decision. Before you make a final decision, be sure to consider these questions:

  • Is hospital prestige a priority in where you send your talent?
  • What type of relationship with the doctors will your employees value the most?
  • Do you have the budget for travel costs and unexpected medical expenses?
  • How important are customization options for your advanced physicals?
  • How many employees should be a part of the executive health program?
  • What level (c-suite, directors, top performers, everyone, etc.) should be included in the program?

Once you answer these questions, you are likely ready to make the right choice for your company’s executive health program.

Executive Health at PartnerMD

At PartnerMD, we know every executive and C-Suite hire you make is an investment. Our executive health programs and executive physicals allow you to gain greater insights into the health and wellness of your top talent, so you can rest assured that your investment continues to pay off over the long haul.

Click here for more information about our executive health programs.

And if you’ve seen all you need to see, request a custom proposal here.

Ready to add executive health benefits to your company? Request a custom proposal.