Performing a check-up is not like servicing a car

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The check-up for a timely detection of diseases has become a trend. When it comes to health problems of a patient, there is no routine processing. Making examinations only for the sake of the examination itself is a taboo. It is always paramount to find out what is best for the individual patient.

As a doctor, I prefer to deal with healthy patients. In the long run, that would perhaps make me permanently unemployed, but it's always nicer when we can be preventively active in our profession, than if we have to identify and treat a disease. Therefore, check-ups are my personal matter. However, these health check-ups increasingly provide uncertainty among patients. They ask themselves questions such as: "How much has to be examined?" or "What examinations can be skipped anyways?" Examinations such as check-ups are often driven by self-interest – well understood by those of doctors and not the patients.

Most patients come to my practice from the age of 50 for regular check-ups. But younger people are also increasingly coming to us – 30- to 35-year-olds who are stressed at work or generally lead intense lives. This makes sense because potential risks can already be identified at this age. Appropriate precautions can significantly improve the quality of life.

What makes sense?

In our Medical Health Center different check-ups are popular. The cardiovascular check, for example, because in this day and age cardiovascular diseases are widespread. Besides a certain genetic predisposition, factors such as lifestyle and diet are crucial. Furthermore, the osteoporosis-check is very much in demand: With increasing age, the bone density may decline rapidly, particularly those of women. Thus, the risk of fractures, spinal deformities and pain increases sharply. Using a bone densitometry (osteodensitometry), patients may identify their personal risk of developing osteoporosis and – in case of low values – possibly can do much to minimize the effects of the disease without much expense.

Finally, I would like to mention the sleep diagnostics, which is currently in vogue. Many fellow humans are suffering from difficulties in falling and staying asleep, snoring, non-relaxing night sleep, daytime sleepiness, difficulties in concentrating or disorders of the sleep-wake cycle. The extensive diagnostics by means of a video-polysomnography records any disturbances during sleep and allows a clear diagnosis on the basis of examination results. Patients are given specific treatment suggestions of a specialized doctor for long-term remedy of insomnia.

Since Diabetes can also increasingly be found among younger people, a diabetes check-up is very suitable. This shows affected people how to deal with the disease in daily life. The examinations also help to early identify comorbidities, so that appropriate treatment suggestions may be submitted.

Overdiagnosis is taboo

I base my work on findings that are scientifically proven. The facilities provided by the Medical Health Center in Bad Ragaz range from a medical laboratory to the comprehensive range of services offered by a state-of-the-art radiology unit – all under one roof –, making life easier for both patients and doctors alike. Everything is accessible and in one place and allows a rapid and comprehensive diagnosis.

«It is important to examine only what is necessary, in order to avoid increasing the risk of incidental findings.»

Factors such as intuition and experience are important as well. As is responding to the wishes and needs of the patient. I am, however, strongly opposed to any form of overdiagnosis. I believe it is wrong to string together as many check-ups as possible. It is important to examine only what is necessary, in order to avoid increasing the risk of incidental findings. Such incidental findings can give rise to a series of inherently unnecessary follow-up examinations.

Nevertheless, it must be examined enough such as not to perceive something as being insignificant which is in fact serious. This risk is always present. Our task is to strike a balance in a challenging area that calls for a high degree of knowledge and experience. No two bodies are alike – therefore, per forming a check­up is far more complex than servicing a car.

The Check­up & Diagnostics department run by me is a central part of the Medical Health Center at the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz. Since 2005 I am part of an interdisciplinary team of doctors at the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz. Outstanding medical expertise, combined with a first­class infrastructure, has enabled the department to develop an excellent reputation that extends well beyond the country’s borders. For that, we have worked hard and we were able to achieve it because we take enough time and always focus on the patient’s needs. No anonymous routine processing here – the focus is on individuality. And this applies equally to hotel guests and to external visitors and patients of the publicly accessible Medical Health Center. Under these optimal conditions, the Check­up & Diagnostics department has one primary goal: to find out what is best for the individual patient.

This is not always easy. It can sometimes be impossible to identify the patient’s underlying condition. For example, why a person has elevated liver enzymes despite their healthy lifestyle. Then it is a question of deciding when to stop. This is difficult, but highlights the fact that check-ups also have their medical limitations.

«I can have a positive impact on a person’s lifestyle.»

When I am asked about the attractive side of my profession, then I say that I can have a positive impact on a person’s lifestyle. Helping someone to remain healthy for longer and look forward to a correspondingly high quality of life – that is what makes me happy.

And when was the last time you have been at the check-up? What experiences have you made or what have you always wanted to know?

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