Executive physicals Featured

7:00pm EDT February 23, 2009

The wisest investment a company can make is not in its equipment, supplies, services and business operation. It is in the health of its employees. In the Health Care “Insights” columns earlier this year, Barry Arbuckle, Ph.D., president and CEO of MemorialCare Medical Centers, shared the importance of creating and maintaining a healthy work force. He offered tips on how to improve employee health through cost-effective programs that can be implemented at any business, no matter the size or sector.

In this column, Smart Business spoke to Arbuckle about the importance of screenings and physicals for executives and managers and the details of a typical program.

Why are executive physicals important?

While many executives follow a healthy lifestyle, the stress of work, travel and long hours can result in an inability to properly exercise, eat the right kinds of foods and manage the stress and demands of management. Executive physicals include a battery of tests and comprehensive history, evaluation and physical exams that are convenient and meet the schedule of busy executives and business professionals.

It’s a well-known fact that many conditions such as heart and vascular disease, cancer and diabetes go undetected during early stages. Coincidentally, these conditions often occur during the peak years of work productivity. The highly specialized medical team at MemorialCare Medical Centers that conducts our executive physicals and screenings shared with me countless examples of how these chronic and potentially life-threatening conditions were identified early when they could be best treated, thanks to our comprehensive executive physical programs.

How do they contribute to the bottom line?

Executive physicals are designed to detect potential health problems before they can have a negative impact on the executive and company performance. The University of Michigan’s 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.

Are all executive physicals the same?

Each executive physical is designed around the needs of the individual, according to a number of factors. These include age, gender, lifestyle, nutrition and exercise habits, detailed personal and family medical history and more. Comprehensive evaluation, consistent monitoring and extensive counseling by outstanding physicians, nurses, other clinicians and support personnel ensure oneon-one attention. An ambassador personally guides each executive through every step of the process, offering that extra measure of care by coordinating scheduling and follow-up, arranging for transmittal of results, answering questions and assisting the client and the company.

What are typical program components?

While each executive physical is tailored to specific needs, the program usually offers a complete physical by a board-certified physician. Medical tests may include an EKG, blood analysis, urinalysis, hearing and vision tests, stress profile, colon cancer screening and testing for flexibility, strength and lung function plus a bone density study and pap test for women and PSA test to screen men in prescribed age groups for prostate cancer. Additional tests, including mammography, chest X-ray, sigmoidoscopy, treadmill stress testing, osteoporosis screening 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 and vision problems and more.

How are the results shared?

During an extensive consultation, your physician discusses the risk factors, genetic characteristics and habits that make you susceptible to certain diseases. Advice is offered on how to eliminate or minimize risk factors and achieve a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle. 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 also receives a complete personalized report, health profile and recommendations for 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 where do we start?

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

BARRY ARBUCKLE, Ph.D., is president and CEO of MemorialCare Medical Centers (www.memorialcare.org) and past chair of the California Hospital Association. Reach him at arbuckle@memorialcare.org or (562) 933-9708. MemorialCare Medical Centers include Saddleback Memorial Medical Center in Laguna Hills and San Clemente, Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley, Anaheim Memorial Medical Center, Long Beach Memorial Medical Center and Miller Children’s Hospital in Long Beach. For more information on executive physicals, call (949) 452-7255 in Orange County and (562) 933-1233 in Los Angeles County.