Health Tune-Ups for Busy Executives

A personal trainer works with a client at Nova Medical Group, which now offers a new executive wellness program.
A personal trainer works with a client at Nova Medical Group, which now offers a new executive wellness program. (Trent & Co.)
Monday, December 1, 2008; Page D02

With financial markets going wild and the economy experiencing a sharp downturn, there are plenty of worries to be had among local corporate executives these days.

To deal with those pressures, some are turning to executive wellness programs in the area, which offer health evaluations and treatment plans for stressed-out corporate chieftains.

George Nicholson, president of District-based Sage Solutions Group, a technology company that focuses on law firms, said he had not given his health the attention it should have received ever since starting his company 16 years ago. So he recently took two days off and completed the executive wellness program at Nova Medical Group in Ashburn.

"Work is a huge challenge. It is a very busy place, and you don't take time to take care of yourself," Nicholson said. "Because I am older and a little stressed out at times, I am concerned about my health."

Nova Medical Group's program is new and combines traditional medical exams with more new-age treatments like acupuncture as well as spa-like luxuries. Nicholson said he received a facial and a massage with his medical evaluations.

The program joined similar -- though more traditional -- programs in the Washington area. Georgetown Hospital runs the Georgetown VIP Executive Health Program, which targets the diplomatic community as well as law firms and large corporations. Inova has its Inova Executive Health Center, which focuses on both corporations and individuals.

The programs don't come cheap and are often not covered by insurance. A two-day package at Nova Medical starts out at a cool $4,000. Inova's half-day program runs about $2,000, and as more tests are run, the prices can climb. Georgetown's Silver Health Check can run $2,200 for a day or $7,200 for a two-day check.

Some are skeptical of how cost-effective such programs are.

"If you want to know what delivers good value and, in particular, savings, you are going to have to look hard," said Joshua T. Cohen, a research professor at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, who has concluded in recent research that preventive medicine does not necessarily provide economic savings over treatment of known conditions.

Nicholson says it was worth it. He hopes the program will help him get on track with a new exercise routine and a new diet.

"I am essentially a healthy person," he said, "but we can all do better."

-- Alejandro Lazo

© 2008 The Washington Post Company