The Modern Physical FAQs

How The Modern Physical Works

What is the Modern Physical?

It is a high-tech health surveillance program that supplements your usual annual physical exam. The testing goes above and beyond what is typically prescribed and covered by health plans. It augments the standard physical that has changed little in the last 50 years, employing modern technology to detect disease earlier, when it’s more curable. The more you look, the more you find.

Modern Physical surveillance plans are constructed using an intelligent, computational algorithm perfected over the last 20 years at the David Drew Clinic. For the first year, your program is derived from our extensive database and information you supply on a detailed health questionnaire. In subsequent years, your test plan adjusts by incorporating your previous test results.

What tests are included?

Your program includes comprehensive testing to evaluate your heart and cardiovascular system, to find emerging cancers and cancer risks, to evaluate the structure and function of most of your organs, and to identify inherited genetic susceptibilities. We’ve constructed some sample test plans that exemplify the complex and inclusive nature of The Modern Physical. Of course, responses on your medical questionnaire will allow us to customize your program more specifically for your needs.

How can this help to extend my life as the website says?

One in seven adults die before age 65. Almost all of these deaths are unnecessary and are avoided by Modern Physical participants. That’s because early identification of problems like heart disease, cancer, and stroke risk makes it possible to avoid some problems entirely and to treat others while they are still curable. Over a ten-year study period, the comparable death rate of Modern Physical participants was only one in one hundred.

Comparison to other programs

Why doesn’t my regular physical exam include tests like those in The Modern Physical?

We think it should, because the long term economic and personal benefits of good health outstrip the cost of surveillance. Most physicians recognize the value of enhanced medical surveillance but are not trained in best practices for its implementation. Hence, it is common for primary care providers to recommend only the minimal set of surveillance tests reimbursed by your medical insurance.

How does The Modern Physical compare to usual executive health programs?

Executive health programs, whether national or regional, usually provide a one-size-fits-all evaluation that is designed for the average patient. Though more comprehensive than your doctor’s regular physical, these programs typically do not provide comprehensive cancer surveillance or stroke susceptibility, and typically do not perform genetic analysis of risks.

The Modern Physical, on the other hand, is the most comprehensive program currently available for detection of cancer and prevention of heart attack and stroke. It examines your organs for evidence of cancer and detects it through blood cancer markers. It looks at your brain’s arteries for stroke-related problems. And it incorporates tests of genetic disease susceptibility as they become available. Its intelligent testing strategy customizes the evaluation to your individual vulnerabilities. And unlike other programs it has a track record, shown in clinical trials to dramatically reduce your risk of death.

Why is The Modern Physical better than a whole body scan?

A body scan is a CT scan that examines most of you. It is performed on a single machine and, hence uses the same surveillance strategy on all body parts examined. The body scan involves a significant dose of medical radiation that limits its recurring use. The Modern Physical, on the other hand, is a multimodal evaluation, using the best imaging, biochemical, and functional tools to analyze your various organs and systems. This essential difference renders The Modern Physical superior to a body scan in three ways:

  • The Modern Physical provides a much better picture of your overall health. It looks hard to find out not just what your organs look like, but how they function and interact.
  • The Modern Physical tunes its tests to best evaluate your particular needs. With a wide array of available imaging modalities and biochemical tests, the most precise tests, often applied in overlapping fashion, are applied to maximize the accuracy of your surveillance.
  • The Modern Physical is an ongoing, always evolving surveillance process. It learns about you from the results of testing in prior years to individualize future evaluations. Because its radiation exposure is minimized (none in most years), it is an ideal strategy for insuring your health over time.

Don’t concierge physicians provide a service like this?

Generally no. Concierge medicine aims to provide greater access to, and more time with, your physician, and sometimes a few tests in addition to a standard annual physical. While these services may be valuable, they do not substitute for the thorough, high-tech evaluation provided by The Modern Physical. Some individuals avail themselves of both The Modern Physical and concierge service through their own physician or at the David Drew Clinic.


Is the testing performed by The Modern Physical safe?

In a word, yes. The Modern Physical has been designed specifically to minimize X-ray exposure. This is accomplished by using non-radiation techniques for the majority of your imaging studies. Unlike other approaches, such as whole body radiation scans, The Modern Physical utilizes an array of imaging tools, including ultrasound and MRI, to view most of your body. Tests involving radiation are used sparingly and infrequently and, when used, are tuned to minimize exposure.

Will you make discoveries that lead to unnecessary procedures?

About one in ten first-time Modern Physical patients have unexpected abnormalities found on body imaging. Most of these are variants of normal, such as cysts or scars that are of no importance and need no further evaluation. Some have findings such as kidney stones or gallstones that do not require intervention but are good to know about in case of future symptoms. Rarely, an abnormality turns up that requires further non-invasive tests for diagnosis. Once a baseline is established, unexpected abnormalities are unusual.


Will my insurance or flexible spending account cover any of this?

Medical insurance typically covers a periodic “standard” physical, usually including a physical examination and some basic tests. By participating in The Modern Physical, you receive some of those basic tests free of charge, and in addition you undergo much more extensive assessments that are typically not reimbursed by health insurance plans. The Modern Physical is, however, covered by most medical flexible spending accounts. It can be purchased with an FSA debit card, and we will provide you a statement for submission to your plan administrator.

If you participate in the David Drew Executive Physical or David Drew Complete Care program, some elements of your evaluation may be reimbursable by your insurer. Our claims experts will, with your permission, prepare and file a claim with your insurer on your behalf. Reimbursement of 10 to 50% is typical.