Last week I went for a periodic health check. This is a great perk provided by my employer and I’m really grateful for the opportunity for this ‘personal MOT’. We take our cars to the garage for regular checks & servicing, but we don’t always do the same for ourselves.

I want to share a few things with you about the actual experience, as well as some of the benefits for employees and employers alike.

 

Why have a personal MOT?

Over the past 8 years of corporate life, I’ve been fortunate enough to benefit from a periodic health check through work. This is one perk that I will definitely miss once I leave corporate life in a couple of months. I was determined to get my last one in before leaving! I was initially entitled to one every 3 years, increasing to every 2 years since reaching my forties. The over fifties get one annually. This is the fourth one I’ve had in 8 years.

 

Leading up to the event

The booking procedure was fairly straightforward via a phoneline and included a choice of dates and venues to suit. This is probably dependent on where you are located in relation to the healthcare provider. There isn’t a centre in my closest town, but there are 2 within approximately 40 miles, which is OK.

Once booked, I received a link to fill in an online questionnaire, containing various health and life style questions. This was fairly simple and painless to complete in the grand scheme of things.

I was instructed not to eat or drink for 9 hours prior to the appointment, so not to impact the blood test. This basically meant no breakfast for me, as I had a 9.30am appointment. A huge advocate of a good breakfast and a grazer, this kind of fasting isn’t easy for me.

Getting to the appointment was fine, and involved an hour-plus car journey to myself, although I had to allow extra time due to notorious traffic in the area. Luckily, I arrived in good time and even had the opportunity for a short walk on the fine, yet crisp, June morning.

Apart from feeling peckish and needing the loo, I was in fine spirits for the start of my appointment.

 

The assessment itself

The assessment didn’t take place in a doctor’s surgery, nor a hospital, but in fact in a rather nice gym. It comes in 2 parts: the first with a physician and the second with a doctor.

Already running a little late despite having the first appointment of the day, tummy rumbling and legs crossed, I was ushered into a room for the first part.

Physician tests

The initial hour of the appointment contained a number of tests conducted by the physician. These included physical measurements, blood and urine analysis, lung function, postural assessment, resilience, EGC and cardiovascular risk score.

I got the urine test out the way upfront (with huge relief), then the physician tried to take blood. Sometimes tricky (my veins are quite ‘narrow’), several failed attempts later, she decided to leave it to the doctor. This meant I had to delay eating for another hour!

The other tests were smoother to administrate, although with a few surprising results.

Doctor assessment

The doctor essentially reviews the results from the various tests alongside the answers from the online questionnaire. I’ve seen the same 2 doctors twice now across the 4 health checks: female, male, female, male,  so there’s been some continuity in my assessment history.

Luckily, the doctor managed to “strike gold” (his words) on the blood test front – the 4thneedle got lucky. It was fair to say I was a little bruised afterwards!

Although some of the tests gave odd results, common sense fortunately prevailed:

Lung test – below average results

This was assumed to be my technique related rather than anything actually wrong with my lungs (I’m currently a month away from doing a triathlon and I have no problem breathing during my swimming, cycling or running training).

Stress and resilience test – low score

Although I am perennially busy, I remain fairly chilled and calm most of the time. Nevertheless, I scored at the bottom of the scale for this. This is very weird, especially as I’m probably at my least stressed (most chilled) for a while workwise.

 

Afterwards

I felt immediate relief that I could eat at last and was even given some vouchers to spend at the gym café!

I felt a little lightheaded for much of the day partly from low blood sugar from fasting, then eating food (more sugary than I’d have liked), as well as the blood loss from the blood test.

The report was emailed through the next day, reassuring me of a fairly clean bill of health.

Some of the results weren’t quite as ‘good’ as the prior years, but they were pretty much in the same ball park for the main. I have to remember that I am also a full 2 years older than last time!

 

Personal MOT benefits 

I see a number of different benefits of having such a personal MOT:

  • It gives an opportunity to take a little time out of my busy days and focus on me
  • It gives some high-level information on how healthy I am and areas which may need additional attention or focus
  • N.B. Some people are recommended for further tests or other procedures as a result of the findings.
  • It provides me with some contact with the medical world – I’m not sure about you but I rarely have appointments outside of routine dentist and optician checks. The majority of my rare GP contact for the last 7 years has been via phone consultation!

Read this review on the value of personal MOTs.

From an employer’s perspective they are providing a desirable benefit and helping to raise the self-awareness of their employees regarding their health. Hopefully they will reap the benefits in terms of loyalty and engagement, as well as reduced absenteeism in the short and long-term.

N.B. these health checks are confidential, results are not reported back to employers!

 

Few gripes

My gripes are few and minor, but I think they’re worth mentioning, for balance and completeness.

  • A few of the test results were questionable, it makes me question the overall value
  • The results could end up impacting the ‘worried well’ and burdening the NHS if misinterpreted by doctor or individual
  • There wasn’t a test centre in my town – not a huge problem, but the whole expedition does take up a full half-day
  • Having to fast – I love breakfast and grazing!

 

Wrap-up

Overall, a periodic personal MOT is a perk that I’ve really valued these past 8 years. Yes, I am particularly interested in health – my own especially – but I think there are some definite benefits of such a health check. The acid test will be how much I’m willing to pay for my own health check, when it’s up to me to pay for my own…luckily, having just had one there’s no immediate hurry to make this decision.

 

Thank you for reading! For more on Age Life Balance, browse the blog at www.agelifebalance.com to find out  more.