Executive physicals, and what the Mayo Clinic doesn’t want you to know

The Mayo Clinic has been touted by policy wonks as a low-cost, high-quality integrated health system that American physician practices should aspire to.

What’s somewhat less publicized is that they are also a leader in so-called “executive physicals.” (via Schwitzer)

These exams, which often exceed thousands of dollars, offer CEOs and other executives a battery of tests that are often not evidenced-based. These can include stress tests, cardiac CT scans, and other full-body scans. Bluntly put, they symbolize the excessive testing pervading American medicine today.

Indeed, a blistering critique in The New England Journal of Medicine puts executive physicals in its place: “As efforts to reform the health care system continue, the executive physical is a perfect example of what American medicine should be working to expunge: the expensive, the ineffective, and the inequitable.”

The Mayo Clinic certainly enjoys the publicity and popularity it receives from the health policy community. But they can’t have it both ways. You can’t be a supposed leader in cost-conscious care yet enjoy the financial rewards of lavish executive physicals.