January 15, 2018
Chronic disease is the leading cause of death in Malaysia. Poor health among working age individuals costs the country about 7.1% of total GDP. (Victoria Institute of Strategic Economic Studies, 2016). Most of this poor health constitutes various chronic diseases.
A study done by the World Health Organization, (WHO podcast, 1st podcast-2009 episode number 56) found that 60% of all deaths annually are due to preventable, non-communicable diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. These diseases have common risk factors which include inappropriate diet and physical inactivity, both of which are related to lifestyle and personal choices. The same WHO study reported that lifestyle intervention, via small modifications to people’s behaviour, is the best answer to the problem.
This involves altering long-term habits, typically of eating or physical activity, and maintaining the new behaviour indefinitely. Lifestyle modification can be used to treat a range of diseases, including obesity.
Towards realizing the vision “A passion for making people better,” Columbia Asia has taken the initiative to start and lead the movement towards prevention in corporate healthcare in Malaysia. The first, important, step has been to design and develop a personalised lifestyle modification and health intervention program for its corporate clients.
This initiative started in 2016 when Columbia Asia Hospital, in collaboration with PMCare, proposed a lifestyle intervention program for medically high-risk employees of their Corporate Clients. An intervention program called “Make A Difference” started with 158 volunteers. The results achieved by the program encouraged Columbia Asia to expand the program to cater to more participants.
In 2017 Columbia Asia launched its “Corporate Health Transformation Program,” and organised a conference with the same title. This was a joint effort undertaken in collaboration with PMCare which provided additional support and a platform to deliver wellness to corporations.
The conference held at Hilton Hotel Petaling Jaya was attended by human resource managers and decision makers from over 50 Malaysia’s leading GLCs and MNCs.
Columbia Asia’s corporate health transformation program has two stages.
PHASE ONE – CORPORATE HEALTH TRANSFORMATION PROGRAM
- It consists of 3 steps (Screening – Statistics & Reports – Prevention classes).
- Medical screening of the employees.
- Conduct an online comprehensive health survey.
- Preferably all screening and prevention classes are done at the clients’ premises.
- Employees receive their test results, and doctor’s consultation at their offices.
- The overall test results/statistic (without the names of the employees) shall be shared with the company HR.
- Prevention classes will be conducted, and the topics for discussion will depend on the overall test results.
PHASE TWO – MAKE A DIFFERENCE PROGRAM
- Employees who would be eligible for this program are those who have taken part in phase one of the program, and their test results show the need for them to take better care of their health.
- This 3-months program consists of 12 weeks of physical and mental sessions. The sessions are usually once a week at the client’s premises.
- The physical session will include a certified trainer and equipment for both indoor and outdoor activities.
- Mental sessions will include certified mindset change trainer, nutritionist briefing, and doctor’s briefing. This briefing will depend upon the overall employees’ test results.
- Most of the engagements are done via WhatsApp and social media. And it is a 24 hours service which gives the participants 24 hours access to wellness team (nutritionist, wellness doctor, fitness trainers and coaches).
- Another screening is done after the three months to gauge the employees’ improvements.
- Graduation event is held to celebrate employee’s achievements.
To promote this culture of health that focuses on prevention, the program offers continuous enrolment in batches. After completion of each batch, immediate enrolment of the next batch is commenced.
The focus of the Program is more on disease management and intervention rather than on things like weight loss, although employees do see a reduction in their overall weight and some do experience muscle gain. Participants with higher cardiovascular risks, high cholesterol, diabetes and stress disorders are the suitable target for this lifestyle intervention program.
Corporations in Malaysia recognise the importance of health interventions. The interest in the Program has been overwhelming, and that signals a significant cant shift in the healthcare industry which is moving towards preventive care. It also highlights an important shift among corporations who are actively engaging with employees to put their health first.
This article first appeared in InfoMed Malaysia, Issue 24, Jan - Mar 2018.