Executive health programs Featured

7:00pm EDT February 23, 2010

A company’s health isn’t just about the bottom line. Success in business is also tied to the physical and emotional well-being of its leaders and work force. With uncertainties permeating every corner of the marketplace, managers are spending more of their time worrying about surviving the downturn and less time maintaining and maximizing their own health.

Smart Business spoke to Diana Hendel, Pharma.D., CEO of Long Beach Memorial Medical Center and Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach, to learn about how organizations can keep their busy leaders at the top of their game through participation in executive health programs.

Why the need for executive physicals?

While many leaders maintain a healthy lifestyle, the stress of long hours, constant challenges and never-ending commitments can result in a lack of exercise, unhealthy diets and skipped doctor visits. But ignoring good health places the leader and the company at risk. Although early detection can lead to better outcomes, practicing preventive medicine can be difficult if it means multiple exams and visits. Executive physicals offer quality preventive care that includes comprehensive evaluation, screenings and physical exams that are personalized, convenient, streamlined and meet the schedule of today’s busy leaders.

Is there evidence that they are effective?

Expenditures on executive health and preventive medicine result in a positive return on investment by increasing early detection, identifying risk factors and helping individuals choose healthy lifestyles, thus preventing serious conditions from appearing in the future. University of Michigan Management Research Center found that executives who underwent physical exams had 20 percent fewer health claims and lost 45 percent fewer workdays than those who did not.

What are some specific examples?

Conditions that often occur during peak years of work productivity — like heart and vascular disease, cancer and diabetes — go undetected during early stages. Our doctors at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center share countless examples of how, during an executive physical, a potentially life-threatening condition was identified early when it could be best treated, thanks to the comprehensive executive physical program.

How do they work?

At Long Beach Memorial, for example, a customized VIP package is designed around each individual’s needs according to a number of factors. These include age, gender, lifestyle, nutrition and exercise habits, detailed personal and family history and more. Through comprehensive evaluation and extensive counseling, as well as consistent monitoring by outstanding physicians, clinicians and support personnel, patients receive one-on-one attention. Our Memorial ambassador guides each person through the process — scheduling components of the executive physical, assisting in choosing the examining physician, meeting and escorting the individual through the screenings, coordinating transmittal of test results, helping in preparing paperwork, arranging for follow-up visits that may result from the comprehensive exam, answering all questions and assisting the client and the company.

What are typical program components?

While each executive physical is tailored to specific needs, the program offers a complete physical by a board-certified physician. Medical tests may include an EKG, blood analysis and urinalysis, as well as testing for flexibility, strength and lung function. Women may receive a bone density study and Pap test while men over 50 may be screened for prostate cancer with a PSA test. Additional tests including mammography, sigmoidoscopy, chest X-ray, osteoporosis screening, treadmill stress testing and more may be added to or included in the core program. The diagnostic tests and screenings may reveal conditions ranging from heart, pulmonary, liver, vascular, kidney and thyroid disease to diabetes, high blood pressure, anemia, asthma, hearing or vision problems, and more.

How are the results shared?

During the extensive consultation, the physician discusses the patient’s risk factors, genetic characteristics and any habits that may affect his or her health. Advice is then offered on how to eliminate or minimize risk factors and achieve a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle. The recommendations based on the findings are coupled with the latest and most advanced best practice medicine and wellness to guide the busy executive in achieving optimal health. Each individual receives a complete personalized report, health profile and recommendations for any follow-up activities and lifestyle improvements. It’s a snapshot of one’s health future and our version of the crystal ball.

Who is eligible and what is the cost?

You don’t need to be in the C-suite to be eligible for an executive physical. The program is open to individual business professionals and corporate and nonprofit organization executives as well as management and employees and others seeking a comprehensive look at their current and future health. Costs are reasonable and may be covered in part by the employer or health plan.

Diana Hendel is CEO of Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach and Long Beach Memorial, which combined have 788 beds, making it among the West’s largest hospital campuses. The facilities are a member of the not-for-profit MemorialCare Health System (memorialcare.org), which includes Orange Coast Memorial in Fountain Valley and Saddleback Memorial in Laguna Hills and San Clemente.