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Executive Physicals Fail to Score on Efficacy and Cost

More is not better, and may be a promotion of bad medicine

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Executive physicals are poor value for money, ineffective and run counter to the principal of equitable access to health care, according to an article published in the Oct. 2 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Brian Rank, M.D., of Health-Partners Medical Group and Clinics in Minneapolis, writes that executive physicals appeal to employers because they connote protection of investment in senior management, are attractive to hospitals because they offer a lucrative income stream and a chance to showcase their facilities, and appeal to executives because of their emphasis on pampering and peace of mind.

However, the 'more is better' approach leads to unnecessary tests that are potentially harmful owing to false positive findings, the author writes. Gratuitous overuse of medical services is in opposition to the principals of prudent management of health care costs, namely cost-effectiveness, transparency and competition, he adds.

"With its outrageous cost and unproven efficacy, the executive physical is almost a parody of the high-cost, low-return procedures that prudent companies rightly want clinicians to eliminate for other employees," the author writes. "As an industry, we can't expect to get credit for working to make health care affordable and effective for all if we're offering the 'best' health care, for a price, to a few -- when it isn't."

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