«  View All Posts

3 Benefits of Annual Physicals at Concierge Medicine Practices

June 13th, 2023 | 4 min. read

By Alicia King, Executive Health

Female doctor talking to patient after concierge medicine physical

You’re ready to switch to concierge medicine. You’ve selected the right doctor who you trust can provide the attentive, personalized care you need.

How can you get the most value out of your concierge medicine membership from day one? One way could be to begin your membership by scheduling the most comprehensive physical you’ve ever had, sometimes known as an advanced physical

As a leading concierge medicine practice since 2003, we’ve talked to thousands of patients about concierge medicine physicals. Many of the same frustrations patients have with traditional primary care carry over to physicals. We’ve heard things like:

  • I can’t remember the last time I got a physical.
  • I’ve been getting a physical every year, but it’s the same one over and over.
  • Even when I do get a physical, I still don’t get enough time with my doctor to discuss the results.

Before we dive into the benefits of advanced physicals, especially at the start of your concierge medicine membership, let’s review the basics.

female doctor talking with patient during physical

What is an advanced physical?

Advanced physicals are more in-depth versions of the standard annual physical. They feature additional advanced tests, imaging, and screenings and provide even more time for your physician to discuss your results. Among many things, an advanced physical could include:

  • A CT Heart Scan evaluates the plaque build-up in your arteries, a precursor to heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular events.
  • An advanced lipid panel reveals inflammatory markers that could indicate an increased risk of diabetes.
  • Genetic testing determines if you are pre-disposed for a higher risk of cognitive decline.
  • Stress management or sleep counseling improves your health habits immediately.

Advanced physicals are often not covered by insurance. They are frequently a one-time, out-of-pocket cost and an opportunity to take a next-level look at your health picture.

Now, why should you start your concierge medicine membership with an advanced physical? Here are three reasons.

1. Advanced physicals provide your doctor with the most in-depth education on your health.

To provide you with the best care possible, your physician needs the best information possible, and that information needs to be comprehensive and up-to-date. The best time to do that is during your advanced physical.

And why wait to give them all that information?

"Doing a thorough physical exam and assessment at the start of the doctor-patient relationship is key to making sure we uncover items that need to be addressed immediately to restore health," PartnerMD’s Dr. Steven Bishop said. "For instance, we could capture missing screenings for cancers or incomplete vaccinations or uncover areas of focus to improve overall wellness. Spending that time upfront helps you and your doctor set goals and determine a path toward maximizing your health."

While you may only get 20-30 minutes for a physical in traditional primary care, most concierge physicals are at least 60 minutes. For example, at PartnerMD, ours range from 90 minutes to eight hours.

Combine an extensive sit-down with your physician with access to results from both the standard health tests and cutting-edge preventive screenings, and you’re giving your physician more of the information they need to deliver the kind of care you deserve.

male patient talking about their health with doctor

2. Advanced physicals help identify your own vulnerabilities before symptoms start.

While traditional annual physicals attempt to provide a snapshot of your health at that moment, a concierge medicine advanced physical dives even deeper.

There are standard tests and screenings that overlap, sure, but the inclusion of advanced testing and imaging allows you to identify where you are most vulnerable, often before symptoms start.

“We do both advanced imaging and labs that try to peer into the future,” PartnerMD’s Dr. David Pong said. "A CT Heart scan may be able to see evidence of cardiovascular disease perhaps 10 years before an event, where just on physical examination, history, and EKG, we may not be able to detect disease, even when it’s quite severe."

In addition, advanced laboratory testing can help identify increased risks that would be indicated by routine labs, "especially with the inflammatory markers, some of the genetic testing, and some of the lipid markers," Dr. Pong said.

"For instance, we could have what looks like a normal LDL concentration on the routine labs, but by looking at the lipids, we can identify a higher number of LDL particles, which can indicate an increased risk of diabetes."

Annual physicals at concierge practices can help identify problems that are causing you trouble now, yes, but they can also help identify the things that could cause you trouble in the future and give you the time to do something about it.

3. Advanced physicals go beyond what health insurance thinks and wants to cover.

As mentioned, many concierge medicine advanced physicals are not covered by health insurance. At PartnerMD, our Classic Physical is covered by most insurance providers once every 12 months. However, we also have two physicals (a 5-hour Enhanced Physical and an 8-hour Signature Physical) that are strictly out-of-pocket.

Why do patients still find value in these?

By investing in these more advanced health screenings, they go beyond what health insurance covers to better protect their own health.

Health insurance serves a wonderful purpose in keeping us all out of financial ruin should a major health crisis happen.

Here’s the problem, however, with health insurance. They’re in the business of pooled risk, not maximizing individual health. So they often can only cover what is absolutely necessary to provide financial risk coverage for most people.

Most health insurance plans cover healthcare exams, procedures, and tests for ailments with a confirmed diagnosis or preventive care with strong evidence that it’s needed.

Sometimes, relying on your health insurance means by the time they get involved, it’s too late for prevention. But, for example, if you can spot that diabetes or cardiovascular risk years in advance, you could implement the lifestyle changes needed with time to spare.

By peering into your future and identifying your health risks well in advance, advanced physicals can help you avoid even needing that health insurance to cover something in the first place.

In short, investing in a concierge medicine advanced physical is the very definition of proactive, preventive care.

doctor discussing health options with patient

Does everyone need an advanced physical?

As with anything in healthcare, it depends on your own health situation. Not everyone needs certain tests and screenings. For some, an advanced physical right now may not be medically necessary. Your physician will help you determine that.  

One of the most common factors is age. You simply might be too young or too old for certain tests to hold much value.

But if you’re someone approaching your 40s-50s, or you have a strong family history of health issues, or maybe you just want to know your total health picture?

An advanced physical can get you the information you need to identify not just what’s troubling you today, but also what could trouble you five, ten, or even twenty years down the road.

Explore advanced physicals at PartnerMD.

At PartnerMD, we offer the most customizable advanced physicals on the market. With more than 30 customization options, you get the most in-depth look at your health and identify where you are most vulnerable health-wise, hopefully, before symptoms even start.

Want to learn more about PartnerMD? Fill out the form on this page to get the conversation started. One of our membership experts will reach out to answer any questions you might have.

Click me

Alicia King, Executive Health