In our last instalment, we discussed how the pandemic has led to the rise of concierge medicine. Part of this rise has to do with how people across the world have started to prioritise their wellbeing, both mental and physical. Thus, people are willing to pay more to receive an expanded set of healthcare services (same-day or next-day appointments, highly personalised care, access to doctors at all hours, and phone/virtual consultations). This trend is not just applicable to long-term healthcare, but also short-term care preventative care. That is why “Executive Physicals” are becoming more and more commonplace.
Also known as “C-suite physicals”, Executive Healthcare Physicals are comprehensive batteries of doctors’ appointments scheduled over a couple of days to maximise convenience for CEOs and other wealthy individuals, people who have the money but not the time to see cardiologists, dermatologists, and other specialists. These physicals are marketed towards people that are in management positions who are starting to think about long-term health, so this means above the age of forty. Three features characterise all Executive Healthcare programmes:
- They are towards Executives (top Employees from the upper-middle class and upper class)
- Based on objective measures, they provide comprehensive yet unnecessary healthcare
- They allow private people unfettered access to expansive hospital resources
Not all Executive Healthcare programmes are created equal. The best programmes are those associated with the nation’s or region’s best hospitals and universities. For example, the most well-known programme is that of the Mayo Clinic, which is ranked as the Number 1 Hospital in America and is known especially for its cancer research. This 51-hospital system generated 13.9 billion USD in 2020, and executive physicals were a nice addition to the company balance sheet. Likewise, Johns Hopkins, a Top 10 American University known primarily for its exceptional medical programmes, also has a well-known programme.
While these Executive Healthcare programmes are the most famous, there are many programmes across the country, and they are usually associated with strong regional universities (such as Emory University in Atlanta). Most providers charge between 1,000 USD to 4,000 for a 1- to 2-day physical, but the luxury providers charge closer to 10,000. There seems to be a standard set of services: a comprehensive health assessment and medical history review, a full range of preventative screening tests, cardiovascular counselling, review of medications and immunisations, a lifestyle assessment, and an in-depth, one-on-one review with a personal executive health physician. Of course, providers tend to upsell: there are a lot of optional services for the super-rich patients to buy. For example, the Mayo Clinic offers a complete genome sequencing service option for 10,000 USD.
Big or small, Executive Healthcare programmes are considered “cash cows” for hospital balance sheets. The Mayo Clinic is estimated to have generated over 100 million USD in 2015 from its 17,000+ patients. While the services themselves are targeted towards Executives, the sales of these services are primarily targeted at Employers. Based on revenue, employers are happy to pay. If we look at this willingness from a cynical perspective, we can say that employers want to keep their employees healthy because they want them working as efficiently as possible for as long as possible. From a more empathetic perspective, employers want to keep their employees well because they want them to feel happy, healthy, and cared for. Either way, if these physicals do detect any potential disease or disorder, they are detecting issues early enough to where they are easier and cheaper to treat. This is a win-win for both employer and executive. It is no wonder that top programmes like the Mayo Clinic have a 98% satisfaction rating. Despite criticisms about wasted medical resources, the end result is that executives do feel cared for, an end that definitely justifies the means.