Prevention Better Than Cure: How to Keep Executives Healthy
Executives are some of the unhealthiest workers in the US. However, executive health isn’t treated as a priority for many organizations. By using a combination of executive health screening alongside the benefits offered by a corporate wellness health coach, businesses can support their leaders in achieving better outcomes and unlocking their potential.
The executive health crisis
Executives have some of the most demanding and high-pressure jobs in the United States. These high-profile positions carry several risk factors that contribute to poor health. Some of the main factors that contribute to bad executive health are:
Executives travel a lot. The COVID-19 pandemic put a temporary pause on executive travel, but things are quickly returning to normal.
The links between business travel and poor health are considerable. Being “on the road” can play havoc with your diet and sleep and lead to a whole host of problems.
A Harvard Business Review data analysis from a few years back underlines the effects, showing that regular business travelers have, on average:
- a higher body mass index
- poor diets
- more anxiety and depression
- alcohol dependence
- higher blood pressure
- trouble sleeping
- no time to do physical exercise
Dr. James Rippe’s landmark study on executive health turned up some incredible data. At the time, his research found that around 40% of executives were obese. More recent studies put that number at 5% but suggest that as much as 60% of CEOs were overweight.
The trend among executives has improved in recent years. However, 41% of Americans are obese. Several obesity-related conditions are considered to be among the leading causes of premature death, such as:
- heart disease
- type 2 diabetes
A study from the Mayo Clinic suggests that 73% of executives live a sedentary lifestyle. Not getting enough activity increases all-cause mortality, heart disease, cancer, and hypertension.
Stress is a problem at every level of work. However, executives often work long hours, have more responsibility, and are subject to a lot of pressure.
Studies show that executives spend an average of 62.5 hours at work each week. Of course, these figures don’t account for time spent responding to questions, problems, or other emails outside of work hours.
Research suggests that CEOs get under 7 hours of sleep each night. This number is well below the optimal range. A lack of sleep hurts our body’s ability to relax and restore and can lead to health complications.
Lack of work-life balance
In the Dr. James Rippe study we referenced earlier, he suggested that 90% of executives struggled to achieve a work-life balance. This situation can increase the risk of stroke, heart disease, depression, and mental disorders.
Depression affects all members of society, including the C-suite. In fact, some research suggests that CEOs suffer from depression at twice the national rate.
Stress, responsibility, pressure, and more are likely contributing factors. However, genetics also play a factor.
Executive personality factors
Personality is another factor that affects executive health. Many executives are Type A personalities. The characteristics of Type A personalities are things like:
- Obsession with deadlines
However, the things that make these personality types excel in the workplace can also cause them health issues.
Long-standing studies have linked Type A personalities with a risk of health factors, like:
- Increased heart disease
- Higher blood pressure
- Increased risk of smoking and alcohol
How bad executive health affects the business
Our health is a very personal thing. As a result, many executives believe their health and the health of their business are separate categories. However, the truth of the matter is that these factors are more interdependent than people think.
Poor health and lifestyle choices can hurt performance. An unhealthy executive can’t perform at their best. This situation can have a negative effect on company output and revenues.
A lack of sleep hurts efficiency and effectiveness. Overworked executives often try to burn the candle at both ends. However, it ends up hurting their productivity. Sleeping six hours or less per night harms judgment, thinking, and decision-making.
The demands on executives are very high. They are entrusted with a lot of responsibility. Shareholders, stakeholders, management, and staff all rely on strong, functioning executives.
The effects of bad executive health can be catastrophic for business. For example, ill-health:
- increases absenteeism
- contributes to revenue loss
- affects business decisions
- reduces creativity
Executives represent a significant asset for businesses. When these appointments don’t provide a return on investment (ROI), it can drastically affect business plans and revenues.
The issues with the annual physical
Many organizations keenly understand the problems that come with bad executive health. The two main issues they face are:
- loss of productivity
- high replacement costs
The annual executive health screening has become something of a ritual in corporate America. However, despite the large sums of money invested in these services, employers don’t always see the benefits.
Even with an annual executive health screening, executives still get sick. While annual physicals may identify some illnesses, the Harvard Health review suggests an annual physical doesn’t make a big difference to health outcomes.
Furthermore, one article in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests the practice is so ineffective that it should be halted.
One reason why annual physicals are inefficient is that they are overly general. The doctor doesn’t have a relationship with the client, so the tests can become more of a box-ticking exercise.
This process leads to a lot of different tests, many of them entirely unnecessary. The more distressing side of these practices is the prevalence of false positives. Occasionally, executives get positive results for health issues they do not have. This leads to undue concerns and, sometimes, treatment.
So, if annual physicals don’t produce the desired results, what should you replace them with?
Concierge medicine is a solution that is in a better position to meet the needs of executives. Instead of relying on an annual physical, this personalized service can help increase health and performance thanks to a more considered approach.
The best concierge medicine services provide a mix of different benefits that can positively affect executive health.
Benefits of a concierge medicine service
#1. On-call access
Executives live busy lives. Their work demands long hours and frequent travel. In addition, they have to balance this with raising families and other commitments. In short, they often lack the free time to schedule visits.
Scheduling an appointment with a busy doctor can be a challenge. Often executives can’t predict what fires they will need to put out tomorrow, let alone in two or three weeks. As a result, scheduling the time to travel, wait, and see a primary health doctor isn’t always possible.
Our concierge medical service offers a different approach. We provide executives with access to a physician at all times, which means they can get urgent care when they need it.
During COVID-19, we saw an explosion in telehealth. People realized that many of their health concerns could be dealt with by phone or video.
However, there are several scenarios where executives need one-to-one, in-person consultations. A concierge service can provide same or next-day appointments that fit around even the busiest schedules.
The traditional hassle and time-drain of accessing health services often lead executives to ignore symptoms. Not addressing a health concern because you don’t have time can lead to severe complications.
A concierge service can be consulted even if it’s something small. Executives can get out in front of any problems, leading to fewer sick days and better performance.
#2. A better relationship
Primary care doctors have huge workloads. This can lead to the well-documented problem of high wait times. However, it also has an effect on how long the doctor can spend with each patient. Research suggests that primary care doctors spend only around five minutes talking to their patients.
Concierge doctors typically see fewer patients. This scenario means they can spend more time with each individual.
Executives can make each visit to the doctor count in a way that an annual physical can never achieve. By spending more time with the physician, they have the opportunity to discuss and find detailed solutions to their health issues.
Additionally, they can spend this extra time planning for the long term.
Our service goes beyond executive health screening. We can establish long and meaningful relationships with each patient and discuss various problems. Additionally, through frequent interaction, we can better understand each executive’s health and concerns.
#3. Better understanding
One of the off-shoots of a more personalized doctor-patient relationship is a deeper understanding. Because you have more time to spend with a specialist, you can explore things that wouldn’t be possible during a visit to a primary care physician.
For example, these visits could be an opportunity to examine risk factors that exist based on different circumstances. Perhaps you have had an illness in the past that you are worried could flare up in the future. Or perhaps your family has a history of a specific illness that you’re worried you’ll inherit?
Executive health screening can be performed in both scenarios. Any concern or risk factor can be tested for, allowing your executives to prevent future issues.
#4. Less administration
The United States’ complex and bureaucratic health care system can be challenging to navigate. As a result, visits to the hospital can become laborious and unsatisfactory.
Too often, patients end up interacting with receptionists, managers, and technicians; however, their time with the doctors is too short.
A concierge service avoids these pitfalls by cutting down on these interactions. Instead, patients can enjoy direct access without all the forms and paperwork associated with a hospital or clinic.
#5. Holistic care
Perhaps the most crucial benefit of a concierge service is that it offers patients access to a holistic approach. Primary care physicians tend to isolate your symptoms and prescribe medicines that have varying degrees of success.
However, concierge medicine works in a more personal way. We take the time to get to know our patients. That means understanding their history, habits, and personal circumstances. This knowledge allows us to make more meaningful interventions based on the individual rather than recommendations that tend to work for a certain amount of people.
#6. Higher patient satisfaction
Overall, research shows that concierge medicine services lead to higher patient satisfaction. A combination of more time, a more personalized approach, and less admin means that each patient feels more heard and seen.
How to keep executives healthy
Personalized medicine, sometimes called precision medicine, is a modern approach to health treatment.
Each body is unique. However, in the medical industry, these differences can go unacknowledged. Too often, our understanding of why people develop illnesses and how their bodies respond to medication is poorly understood.
The result is that patients are prescribed medication that works for the broader population but misses the mark on them. This situation can lead to frustration, pain, and even despair.
In recent years, advances in our understanding of genetics and genomics have moved us closer to providing genuinely customized medicine. By taking into account various factors, we can understand how health, disease, and drug responses work on an individual level.
It’s estimated that specific drugs only work on about half the population.
In traditional scenarios, our treatments are reactive. For example, a patient comes to a doctor with a series of symptoms or complaints they’ve noticed over the last few months, and a doctor prescribes medicine to fight the condition.
Personalized medicine is preventative. Some of the possibilities that are unlocked by personalized medicine are:
- it’s preventative, not reactive
- improves detection of disease
- predicts an individual’s susceptibility to disease
- enhances the effectiveness of prescriptions
- reduces side-effects
For businesses and executives, the benefits are obvious. More targeted, more effective medicine means fewer health problems and days off.
Ongoing coaching and well-being support
A corporate wellness health coach is one of the best ways to provide healthcare support. Combined with a concierge medicine approach, it can be a powerful way to create dedicated employees who can reach their potential.
Additionally, a corporate wellness health coach is concerned with both physical and mental health. They strive to encourage executives to learn how to create healthier habits, including a better work-life balance.
Some of the benefits of coaching and well-being support are about:
- identifying what each executive needs to feel happy and well
- to explore and identify what drives and motivates them
- discuss what issues are getting in the way of achieving their goals
- actualize their capabilities and potential
- work out the best path to success
As mentioned earlier, annual physicals are often so crude that they produce adverse effects. What’s more, they are expensive, frequently inaccurate, and carried out in an impersonal way.
You need a better approach when you want to protect one of your key assets. Thankfully, there are effective executive health screening options available.
Heart health is one of the most important things to test at an executive health screening. Executives tend to work long hours. These situations alone can increase the likelihood of heart disease.
We use ultimate health screening for our executive health screening. These tests are far more comprehensive than what is offered at a typical annual physical.
Some of the conditions we screen for are:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Thyroid disorders
- Kidney disease
- Peripheral artery disease
On top of these tests, we also look into your personal and family history and risk factors like:
- blood pressure
- and other symptoms you’re experiencing.
Again, early testing is all about prevention. Identifying and addressing conditions before they arise is the best way to protect your executives. The interventions can save organizations considerable sums because executives miss fewer days. Additionally, this reduces the pressure on other staff members and increases overall productivity.
As we mentioned earlier, executives are twice the national average for depression. Less sleep, overworking, and poor work-life balance can all combine to affect mental health. When added to any inherited problems, this can lead to burnout or more complex situations.
In the hyper-competitive corporate world, there is still a stigma around mental health, especially among leaders. Executives are often reluctant to admit they have problems for fear of being seen as weak.
Our service works to build the trust of executives. We offer an understanding, discrete presence that executives can confide in without judgment.
Sometimes talking and unburdening is enough. While other times, more action is required. We can help guide you toward appropriate resolutions.
Help to make better lifestyle choices
Another part of the job of a corporate wellness health coach is to affect positive behavioral and lifestyle choices.
Executives are overworked, stressed, and short on time. These three elements can combine to create bad personal decision-making. For example, after a long day, it can be easy to skip the gym and go to the drive-through. Additionally, many executives relieve pressure through alcohol, smoking, or excessive coffee drinking.
If your executive isn’t taking care of themselves, this can be reflected in their work. Without proper nutrition and sleep, leaders can’t be at their best.
How health care management can help your business
So far, we’ve looked at:
- the health risks for executives
- how bad executive health harms businesses
- why concierge medicine is a better alternative to annual physicals
- how to keep executives healthy
However, it’s time to look at the positives for businesses that invest in healthcare management.
Investing in healthcare management should be looked at like any other business product or service, like utilities, office rental, equipment, etc.
The costs of poor executive mental and physical health are enormous. Sick days mean that other staff members need to step up and plug the gap, which has a cascading effect throughout the organization.
Additionally, without the experience and guidance of these key staff members, productivity is reduced.
In the broader economy, sick days cost the US about $575bn in productivity yearly. Executives account for a significant share of this total.
However, to accurately measure how much productivity is lost due to illness, we must also consider other factors.
Presenteeism — where workers show up to the office but contribute low output or underperform due to their reduced capacity — is common. This phenomenon is true for both chronic and temporary illnesses.
Staff is an investment too. Protecting that investment, and establishing conditions that can help them thrive, should be a significant priority.
Good healthcare management helps that process. This begins with executive health screening and extends to offering other services, like a corporate wellness health coach.
How Executive Health Doc can help businesses and executives
Dr. Shahan Chowdhury’s concierge executive healthcare solution provides a new and better path to executive health. Instead of relying on medical insurance or the annual physical, Dr. Chowdhury understands the benefits of a more relationship-based, holistic approach to health.
Dr. Shanan Chowdhury is one of the most prominent names in executive health. She is known as a thought leader in the executive health space and is consistently ranked in the country’s top 10% of executive health providers.
She brings a wealth of experience and practice to the executive health space. From cutting-edge executive health screening to her dual role as a corporate wellness health coach for industry leaders, Dr. Chowdhury delivers the outcomes that matter.
Dr. Chowdhury’s modern approach includes:
- A concierge medical service that is available for treatments and advice all year round, not just for yearly physicals
- An understanding that all patients have unique health risks and concerns and respond best to personalized health care
- A strong experience and knowledge of the unique conditions and concerns that high-level executives face
- A proactive, preventive approach to executive health that aims to identify and intervene with issues before they affect the individual and the business
- An approach that mixes both medical and wellness practices to ensure physical and mental well-being
- A collaborative approach to executive health that creates long-term strategies and habits for ongoing health and wellness
Why this approach can revolutionize executive health
As we mentioned earlier, many companies have a relatively basic approach to executive health. They book their executives into an annual physical and await the results, hoping to identify any future issues.
In some situations, the doctor performing the annual physical will notice a problem or health concern. They may run further tests and make a recommendation. For example, they might detect high cholesterol or even a body mass index that puts the executive at risk of future health issues like heart disease or diabetes.
For example, let’s say that the doctor recommends that the executive should lose 15lbs. Too often, the executive is given the information, but the problems persist because there is no follow-up.
The executive might be sufficiently worried about the potential adverse outcomes and make necessary changes. However, what is much more likely is that they will watch what they eat for a few weeks before returning to their old habits due to the stress and demands of their job.
Then, when they return for their physical the following year, the situation is unchanged or even worse.
An approach that favors outcomes over procedures looks much different. Identifying health issues is just the first step on the road to unlocking the benefits of good executive health.
Any lifestyle change requires not just advice but also support. This support can come in a variety of ways, like encouraging good health by providing education and an understanding of the problem. Combining executive health screening with the benefits of a corporate wellness health coach produces better outcomes.
Understanding executives’ history, genetics, and risk factors, along with their personal circumstances and goals, can help inform the best interventions.
Instead of merely telling the executive about their health issue, developing a strong relationship will:
- give them a full understanding of the condition or problem
- help them forge a pathway to better outcomes
- support them on their journey to achieve their goals
- help them understand and address the lifestyle factors that are contributing to poor health
The extra time that executives have with doctors means they have a better chance of understanding and addressing each problem. When combined with a personalized medicine approach, they have a far greater chance of managing or overcoming each issue.
While there are genetic elements to conditions like heart disease, lifestyle and environmental factors all play a big part. A holistic approach takes in the complex interplay of factors and recommends a personalized solution.
Again, each executive has a unique situation, health history, and genetics. Identifying the motivations behind the decisions that contribute to poor health is essential. With the right support, each patient can break the patterns that lead to suboptimal choices.
Retention and recruitment
Retention and recruitment have been much talked about subjects in recent years. There are a lot of factors at play here. When it comes to executives and workers in other highly-specialized fields, the talent pool is relatively small. Each company is competing for a limited number of people.
Additionally, the costs of replacing a worker often far exceed their salary. Recruitment costs, plus loss of productivity, expertise, and experience, mean employers want to avoid losing key staff, especially when replacing them is so competitive.
Another thing to consider is the shift in priorities of workers. Millennial and Gen Z workers are less driven by financial compensation alone. They prioritize things like work-life balance, wellness, and benefits.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought this confluence of factors to a head. While data suggests the Great Resignation was somewhat overstated, it does shine a light on a changing relationship between workers and employees.
Offering an executive health care service as part of your company benefits gives you a competitive advantage. Appealing to more health and wellness-conscious executive can make your package stand out or help you retain key leaders.
By offering executive health screening and access to a corporate wellness health coach, you can appeal to potential leaders in a meaningful way.
Executive jobs are tough and demanding. They require the type of worker who will go the extra mile in terms of hours worked, responsibility, and stress. Executive burnout is a genuine concern, so leaders will naturally gravitate towards organizations that value their health and aren’t afraid to invest in services that support their physical and mental health.
A strong Employer Value Proposition (EVP) is about more than money. Tech and growth firms — flush with VC investment — have distorted the executive market. Competing on price is no longer enough.
Capturing the new generation of leaders who care about their health and well-being requires a serious commitment. An executive health service can not only help you attract the best talent but also keeps them at the top of their game so they can continue to deliver value for your business year after year.
Forward-thinking health is part of corporate responsibility
In the last decade or so, the relationship between consumers and brands has changed dramatically. Now, a significant proportion of consumers want to spend their money with companies and brands that share their values.
Corporate social governance (CSR) covers a lot of things. While environmental sustainability, transparency, and social issues form a large part of these goals, company ethics are a significant element.
CSR is about more than just making charitable donations and lip service. When done correctly, it produces loyalty among both staff and consumers.
An executive health service can be one of the building blocks of your business approach toward sustainable and ethical practices. By demonstrating your support for executives in terms of their mental and physical health, you can send a powerful message to consumers and business partners.
Many industries, like financial services, have a long-standing reputation for overworking employees. The negative effects on these workers and their families can’t just be put down as a “cost of doing business.” Workers deserve better.
Executive health affects productivity and revenues. Billions of dollars are lost each year due to stress, long and short-term illness, and burnout. Annual physical exams don’t offer an adequate solution to reducing sick days or worker retention.
An executive health service is an excellent investment. By providing personalized support for your leadership team, you can help them identify issues before they turn into problems that affect your business.
Organizations can keep their executives healthy, happy, and at peak performance by combining the benefits of advanced executive health screening and a corporate wellness health coach.