WHY AN EXECUTIVE PHYSICIAN IS BETTER THAN AN EXECUTIVE PHYSICAL
We’re often asked what we think of executive physical programs. In fact, we’ve seen the work of many of these places, including some with national reputations. They’re usually run out of a hospital, take anywhere from four hours to a couple of days, and feature lots and lots of tests. You may or may not see the same doctor next time.
Of course an executive physical is better than a standard checkup, which can last an hour but often runs as little as 20 minutes—really! But executive physicals are lacking in one very important way: They are so heavy on testing that they go light on detailed, personal history-taking — face-to-face interaction with a physician who has the time and interest to listen to your unique concerns and background. And that attentive listening is the hallmark of good medical care, the kind that saves you time and money — not to mention your health — in the long run.
Another issue with a one-size-fits-all approach to testing is that you’ll likely wind up with useless results. Without a proper, detailed medical history there’s no way to know which of those tests were necessary and which extraneous. And remember, the less specific a test is to your particular needs, the less likely it is to give accurate and meaningful results, which can only create confusion when what you really wanted (and paid for) was clarity. This all stems from a failure to get to know you, something the executive physical format just isn’t very good at. The better approach, we believe, is to have an ongoing relationship with a physician close to home and get the tests (and any specialist referrals that are needed) on a schedule that works with your life and career.
Speaking of careers, many of our patients are the same type who would be drawn to an executive physical: Leaders with lots of people depending on them. When you think of health this way — as a matter of stability and continuity, not merely for an executive but for all their stakeholders — another drawback quickly becomes apparent. An executive physical can only provide a snapshot in time. What about the rest of the year? Your vitality is no less important then, and an ongoing relationship with a physician offers year-round benefits that an executive physical, by design, can’t.
So the best aspects of the executive physical can be made available on a continuous basis, all year long—if you have access to a doctor who views you and your health as more of a moving picture than a snapshot.
The keys to our approach are:
- Time. By limiting ourselves to 120 patients per doctor, we make ourselves easy to reach so that we can provide superior service and care. When you call during business hours, you will reach a real person, not a phone tree. (Just one way we demonstrate that “your call is very important to us” is by picking up right away!) If you call during off-hours, you will reach your doctor directly.
- Temperament. It’s not their fault, but insurance-based doctors can get grumpy. Who can blame them? Insurance has turned doctors into their own secretaries (while taking away the real secretaries). And when they’re seeing you they’re acutely aware that their next patient is waiting for them. We, on the other hand, get to do what we love every day: practice medicine, for folks who we have time for and with whom we feel a deep sense of connection.
- Training. In medical school we physicians are taught that everything begins with a detailed medical history. In practice, too often this is delegated to a medical assistant or even a bunch of checkbox forms you have a few minutes to fill out before your visit. (And don’t you wonder if anyone ever gives these more than a cursory glance?) We, by contrast, built a practice from the ground up that affords us the opportunity to put our training to full use in diagnosis and prevention.
- Technology. Electronic health records are supposed to enable providers to relay important details to colleagues, but many of the commercially available systems are a hot mess—a jumble of tickboxes and text fields that take the doctor’s attention away from the patient. We built our system in-house to be secure, fast, and reliable. When seconds count, we can use it to instantly share your chart with hospitals or specialists. At all other times it remains locked down. We believe in technology, but not at the expense of eye contact. Like everything else about our practice, our technology serves the needs of patients, not insurance companies.
So . . . physical or physician? Do you need to know you’re healthy one day out of the year, or every day of every year? Someone you can call day or night when something frightening happens? Someone who knows you well because they’ve taken the time necessary to do so? Who can get you in quickly? Who’s deeply embedded in the Colorado medical scene and knows which specialists are not just best, but best for you?
There’s one medical practice in Denver that can make this an easy decision for you, and you’ve found it.
The information posted on this blog and website are for general information only and should never be relied on as specific medical advice for an individual reader. No financial relationship exists between us and any recommended products or persons mentioned. All material contained here is the property of the Sheldon Sowell Center for Health, PC, and cannot be copied, reprinted, or linked to without our express permission.