Bupa’s Chief Medical Officers’ Network tests ‘four-week health challenge’ in nine countries

An organisation of chief medical officers located around the world –  coordinated by UK-based health insurance group Bupa – has tested a four-week “health challenge” developed by these CMOs, Bupa has announced.

Almost 1,900 employees of participating companies in nine countries took part in the challenge, Bupa reported, noting that the pilot scheme had been deemed a “success”.

“More than half” of the participants reported that their physical activity levels had been increased as a result of the four-week scheme.

The result of the Chief Medical Officers’ Network  health challenge scheme showed, Bupa added, that “simple health challenges can positively impact employees”.

The CMO Network “On Our Way Challenge” is the latest effort by a company to actively encourage individuals to improve their lifestyles, on the basis that more active, healthy-living employees are also likely to be and remain healthier than their lazier counterparts, and thus be less of a drain on these companies’ bottom lines.

In a statement outlining the health challenge and how it fared, Bupa explained that the programme had been conceived as a “flexible initiative”, whereby participants were encouraged to increase their level of physical activity during the four-week period by logging all their steps, typically doing this with the help of digital apps linked to GPS. Some of the participating companies also offered employees who signed up to the challenge money for charities and other prizes as an incentive.

The 1,890 participants came from a variety of workforces, including flight crew in Dubai, miners in South Africa, care home assistants in New Zealand and office workers in the UK, Bupa said. Among the employers that participated were Emirates (the Dubai-based airline group); Independence Blue Cross; the Anglo American and Sibanye – Stillwater mining companies; the healthcare technology company Emis Group; the Dubai-based Abraaj investment group, and, of course, Bupa itself.

One of the biggest changes in employee behaviour was seen at Emirates, where the percentage of people exercising at least five days a week increased by 64%, according to Bupa.

It quoted the airline’s vice president of medical services, Dr Richard Jenkins, as saying that the scheme had been offered to “our entire workforce – from baggage handlers to pilots”, in an effort to determine “whether a workplace health programme with no financial incentives, but peer support and access to gyms and yoga classes, would encourage people to exercise more, as we know this can have a significant impact in the longer-term, beyond the programme”.

According to Bupa, the Chief Medical Officers’ Network was founded in 2014 and is comprised of more than 50 clinicians drawn from around the world, under the organisational umbrella of Bupa, with a shared goal of “bringing about a lasting improvement to people’s health”.

Its aim is to “harness the experience, energy and inspiration of senior clinicians working in some of the world’s biggest [health care] companies, with the aim of improving the health of the world,” a Bupa spokesperson said.

“We believe that the private sector has a role to play in tackling the biggest health challenges, working closely with other civil society players, governments and UN agencies.”

Thus far the CMO Network has published two reports on health in the workplace, which may be viewed and downloaded  by clicking here.

To read more about the CMO Network, click here.

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