Do busy executives require a different kind of healthcare? Constant travel, coupled with plenty of dinner engagements, can take their toll. But a personalized medicine and wellness program can turn the tide. That’s the thinking behind INOVA VIP 360, a concierge medicine program in Northern Virginia geared toward busy executives.
For nearly a decade, the program has helped Washington, D.C.-area executives get back on the wellness track. Since the program’s start, it has grown to include over 70 corporations and more than 1,600 corporate executives under its care. Who’s an ideal candidate for the program? See what the program’s director, Dr. Craig Cheifetz, has to say about this personalized medicine and wellness approach – and the simple lifestyle tweaks you can make today to get fit.
WashingtonExec: Could you give us a brief overview of INOVA 360?
Craig Cheifetz: INOVA VIP 360 is a premium services practice of the INOVA Health System that provides both annual comprehensive executive health exams and a 24/7/365 primary care concierge program. The executive health program is a comprehensive annual exam for executives where we spend 4 to 5 hours with that individual and go over all of their health needs and provide a comprehensive report and plan for them. This program is typically covered by the employer or company.
Our primary care concierge program, which opened in 2010, is now nearly 1,200 individuals, and offers same- and next-day appointments, access to your provider 24/7, and your personal physician who never has more than 400 patients, while the average primary care doctor has anywhere between 2,500 and 4,000 patients. All our appointments are never less than 30 minutes and most are an hour. You reach your doctor directly when you need them most.
WashingtonExec: What differentiates INOVA 360 from a standard primary care service?
Craig Cheifetz: A patient can contact their personal physician and speak to them within minutes, if not seconds. This accessibility for busy individuals is highly coveted. Another differentiator as both an executive health and concierge practice is our bandwidth to provide services both in terms of geography as well as in quickness, quality, and specialist needs.
Matter of fact, in the last couple of weeks, I have literally talked to one of our patients who was in the Amazon who had been bitten by a piranha — I talked him through the proper medical care and what he should do. I had another patient contact me who was in the Middle East and I communicated in real time to help them as well. Whether between meetings or during a board meeting, we try to keep our clients happy and healthy in their life. There is no waiting around. In fact our waiting room is always empty should someone need to come in. It is empty because our team takes you right back.
In addition, when we put people on a scale, we don’t just put them on a scale — we do body composition and body fat and muscle mass and water content. We calculate everyone’s metabolic rate and how many calories they burn. No extra charge. It is part of the program. Our practice focuses greatly on personalized medicine and individualized wellness. Every client at their annual not only meets with their doctor for up to 2 hours, but spends another hour with a personalized trainer and nutrition expert. We have the ability to take laboratories to a depth that primary care doctors can’t in terms of doing particle analysis and a greater depth of understanding of people’s genetics to better assess their overall risk factors.
The other thing that is always interesting is there is a lot of non-evidence based care out there, and non-evidence based medicine. Some individuals will say, ‘I want X, Y, & Z,’ but that’s kind of like saying, ‘I saw it on TV and I want it.’ We work very closely with our patients to provide what they need based on their family history, current medical situation diagnosis, symptoms, and who they are — preferences included. Then we determine the wellness and the treatment plan. We don’t just make the recommendation. We help you coordinate it, set it up, and follow through on it for success.
WashingtonExec: Who’s your ideal patient for this program?
Craig Cheifetz: For the executive health program, it is an individual who needs to see where they are right now with their health and have a comprehensive plan developed in a half a day and not let it linger or bounce around to multiple offices … there are 50% fewer physician visits with our program.
On the VIP Primary Care Concierge side, we have the 45- to 65-year-old busy executive who maybe has high blood pressure or high cholesterol, maybe there is a weight issue or some chronic concerns, and just never had time to take care of it. There is also the 60-plus clientele who is nearing retirement, who has some increased medical issues and needs better coordination of care. We take care of both busy male and female executives who are busy at work and in their home lives. We love helping people get on the right track to health, which leads to a much more enjoyable life.
WashingtonExec: What role, if any, do devices and apps such as Fitbit and MyFitnessPal play in your preventive care approach?
Craig Cheifetz: First of all, personally, I do have a Fitbit. I’m a big supporter of technology. If we are going to make a difference, we have to do things in real time with technology. It gives us the most accurate of information, and with education yields amazing results. We can help individuals lose 55 pounds in just 5 months with some very simple assessments and guidance.
How many people have heard of an unbalanced diet? Your balanced diet may be stopping you from ever losing weight. It is a specific unbalancing of the diet that may be unique to that person. We use apps like MyFitnessPal to give people a real understanding of what they are consuming and what type of calories they are consuming. We use these technologies as tools to the education process. We do not harp on diets, but rather, food chemistry. Once someone understands the science of sugars and proteins, and how they impact them personally, amazing results can happen.
WashingtonExec: What can busy executives do, starting today, to optimize their wellness?
Craig Cheifetz: It’s not rocket science – there are so many things people can do to improve their health through understanding food chemistry and that they may not be as in control as they think when it comes to eating certain foods such as carbohydrates. We deal with busy executives who travel, who go to business breakfasts, lunches, and dinners every day. We actually teach them how they can improve their health without doing too many things — we are extremely practical and successful in working with our clients to get them what we consider optimal health.
I’ll give you a simple trick – we tell so many of our executives that before they attend executive business dinners, to drink a 160-calorie protein shake plus a bottle of water about 30 to 40 minutes before, and, lo and behold, they are not starving. They are not jumping at all of these unhealthy appetizers, not grabbing the bread and they are ordering efficiently. We talk about really simple concepts, because so much of what we do is habit.