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Why You Need to Promote Annual Physicals

Posted 4/27/2017 by UHBlog

Do you need help to make annual physicals the norm at your company? Talk to us about employer-sponsored strategies that work.

Why You Need to Promote Annual Physicals

There's power in knowledge, and that’s especially true when it comes to managing your organization's health care expenses. In fact, the annual physical – which typically includes health services like screenings, checkups and patient counseling – is one of the best ways to promote wellness while controlling costs. However, many employers need help on how best to implement and manage annual physicals within their workplaces.

“As the employer, you're investing all these dollars into your employees," says internal medicine specialist Roy Buchinsky, MD, who is the Director of Wellness at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. "Yet if you don't encourage annual physicals at your workplace, you're really not showing that you are listening to or care about your employees.”

In fact, if your organization doesn't emphasize the importance of annual physicals, it's likely your employees won't either, according to statistics in a U.S. Census Bureau report on health status, health insurance and medical services utilization. In 2010, working-age adults reported a decrease in the average number of visits to doctors, nurses and/or other medical providers, down to 3.9 visits from 4.8 in 2001.

And even though most of the adults in that study reported themselves as being healthy, this doesn’t jive with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data. The CDC reports that chronic diseases and conditions – such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity and arthritis – are the leading causes of death and disability in the U.S.

Chronic medical conditions are the costliest health problems to treat and accounted for 86 percent of all health care spending in 2010. The toll on your employees is worse, however.

“Diseases from lifestyle-induced conditions take the lives of seven out of 10 Americans,” Dr. Buchinsky says. “These are our biggest killers, and many of them are preventable if they're caught early.”

According to Dr. Buchinsky, when your organization is proactive about annual physicals, the benefits to your workplace often include:

  • More productive workers. “We know from studies that employees who are healthy are more engaged and have more ‘presenteeism,’” Dr. Buchinsky says.
  • Fewer chronic diseases. Annual physicals are an opportunity to address issues relating to your employees’ physical and emotional health.
    “Routine screenings help to confirm that everything is okay, and it’s helpful for your employees to discuss things like changes in their family medical history," Dr. Buchinsky says. “Maybe somebody in their family has been diagnosed with heart disease or cancer. It doesn’t mean they are destined to get it, but it’s something we can keep a closer eye on in the future. Being proactive is usually the best defense against the development of serious medical conditions.”
  • Encourages healthier behaviors. By offering employer-sponsored annual physicals, your employees get a snapshot of their current health.
    “Your employees can take steps sooner to minimize the risk of developing chronic illnesses by controlling what I call ‘The Four Biggies’: smoking, physical inactivity, poor nutrition and stress,” Dr. Buchinsky says.

For employers who are worried that implementing and/or mandating annual physicals will be viewed with mistrust by employees, Dr. Buchinsky offers this advice.

“It’s really how you message it to your employees,” he says. “If this is seen as something that is top-down and all-in, it reinforces that your employee capital is your biggest strength. When you tell employees that it helps them be on top of their game and that beyond work, it makes them a better family person and increases their likelihood of living longer into retirement, most people get that.”

To learn more about University Hospitals’ occupational health and safety services, connect with University Hospitals Employer Solutions for more information.

Roy Buchinsky, MD, is an internal medicine specialist and the Director of Wellness at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. You can request an appointment with Dr. Buchinsky or any other doctor online.

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