Healthy executives 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 turned to Steve Geidt, CEO of Saddleback Memorial Medical Center in Laguna Hills and San Clemente, to learn how organizations can keep their busy leaders at the top of their game through participation in executive health programs.

Why do companies need 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 challenging 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 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 Saddleback 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 executive physicals work?

Typically a customized package will be designed around each individual’s needs according to several factors. These include age, gender, lifestyle, nutrition and exercise habits, detailed personal and family history and more. At Saddleback Memorial, for example, a registered nurse specializing in health physicals arranges appointments and ensures tests selected are best for the patient. Comprehensive evaluation and consistent monitoring as well as extensive counseling by outstanding physicians, clinicians and support personnel ensure one-on-one attention.

Since time is valuable, comprehensive executive physicals are typically offered in two efficient appointments. The first session consists of examinations and tests. The second, which can be scheduled within 24 hours, is a private consultation with the executive health physician and nurse to review results and personalized recommendations.

What are typical program components?

Programs vary. At Saddleback Memorial each executive physical is tailored to the individual’s specific needs, and the program offers a complete physical by a board-certified physician. Medical tests may include an EKG, blood analysis, urinalysis, colon cancer screening, flexibility and strength testing, stress and tension profile, hearing and vision test, lung function test, body fat analysis and thyroid blood test. Women may receive a bone density study and pap test while men over 50 may be screened for prostate cancer. 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. There is also a focus on lifestyle because we know proper exercise, nutrition and stress management decrease the likelihood of acquiring chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

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 business professionals and corporate and nonprofit organization executives as well as management and employees 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.

Steve Geidt is CEO of Saddleback Memorial Medical Center in Laguna Hills and San Clemente. The facilities are a member of the not-for-profit MemorialCare Health System which also includes Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach and Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley. For additional information, please visit memorialcare.org.