Employee Checkups in Demand from CorporationsWed, 09/09/2015 - 15:46
The economic cost of work-related stress is skyrocketing, manifesting itself in low productivity, work absenteeism, and health problems. In 2013, GNP Seguros stated that Mexico had the highest rate of work-related stress worldwide, with 75% of employees reporting high levels of anxiety Check-up Center has uncovered opportunity in adversity. The company offers quick, noninvasive body scan consultations at two clinics, one in Santa Fe and the other near Insurgentes Sur: Mexico City’s white-collar stress hotspots. Managing Director Julián González ties his company’s recent success to increased stress levels worldwide. He cites steady growth figures from the company’s foundation in the year 2000, but notes that the industry saw increased demand in the wake of the 2008 world financial crisis. “Most of our customers are multinational companies,” he explains, “whose managers have become increasingly concerned about the health and wellbeing of their workers. After all, employees are more exposed to stress nowadays.”
Check-up Center is not only targeting stressed-out office workers, however. Its check-up packages are the spearhead for early intervention medical treatments in the country. Mexico’s movement from a primarily rural to a primarily urban society has meant a shift in its disease landscape. In the past, acute, communicable disease constituted the country’s primary health cost. However, as sedentary urban lifestyles become the rule, Mexicans tend to suffer from chronic diseases such as diabetes, certain cancers, and cardiovascular illness.
The culture surrounding healthcare and its apparatus remains associated with the acute diseases landscape, however, particularly where diabetes is concerned, as patients do not report symptoms until complications occur. The procedures required after this point can often be costly. Private hospitals are the first ports of call, and therefore the first to benefit from the spending. Check-up Center wants to turn this around. “We only provide patients with diagnosis and recommendations, if necessary. We do not offer treatments, prescribe medicines, or suggest further procedures,” says González. “Since we are not seeking to promote any treatments, patients are confident that we are providing a comprehensive service, recommending medicine based on evidence, whereas hospitals may be trying to sell them something.”
The company is also considered an innovator in technology. “It is true that we are the first company to bring the full-body scan to Mexico from the US,” says González. “Tomography, a scan which covers the area from the head to the pelvis, has been in use there for twenty years. Within three years of us adopting the technology, two of the main hospitals in the country followed suit.” The scan is combined with comprehensive medical checkups processed by Quest Diagnostics’ laboratories, which provides a full scan on the lipids profile, HIV status, thyroid stimulation hormones (TSH), Cardiac C-reactive proteins, and cardiovascular homocysteine. Urine tests also provide information on diabetes, meaning that the disease profiles covered by Check-up Center coincide with the main health issues faced by Mexico’s new urban class.
Given that Mexico’s health and obesity problems are associated with a shift towards a sedentary nature, Checkup Center seeks to integrate health improvements into a healthier professional lifestyle. As companies begin to witness healthcare integrated into workers’ contracts, Checkup Center’s portfolio has grown to 200 companies, including several major international ones who include these services in employee benefits packages. The majority of Mexican insurance firms already cover Check-up Center services. González wants to take his message of positive lifestyle change further. Not only does his company intend to prevent health problems, they are also capitalizing on the country’s growing awareness of health and fitness as a lifestyle choice. “We are not looking to target professional athletes but people who exercise as a hobby, especially those who prefer extreme sports or who exercise for several hours a day. Current sports medicine research thoroughly describes the hazards in practicing certain sports without prior medical examinations. We are currently designing appropriate protocols to provide highly specialized tests for these individuals as they need adequate evaluations to ensure their health and safety.”
González is conscious of the importance of early intervention in preventing major health crises and of the value of his company’s format in preventing life-threatening complications. “Our focus is on Mexico’s main causes of disability and death. We avoid procedures that do not address these,” he says. “Mexicans generally do not take preventive health measures, only visiting their doctor or taking diagnostic tests when they notice serious symptoms or find themselves in an emergency. We want to change this culture. To that end, we are developing prevention campaigns aimed at our clients and the companies who employ us, as they are equally concerned with creating a culture of prevention in the country.”