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12 Jun 2024
by Ian Mackenzie

How BNP Paribas is taking a preventative approach to healthcare

Taken from REBA's recent report into the shifting medical economy, Ian Mackenzie, head of pension and benefits at BNP Paribas, outlines how an ever-evolving tailored health screening programme focuses on enhanced preventative measures

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At BNP Paribas, we have a continuous improvement mindset to make our medical support better every year. That means responding to trends, whether that is NHS support, medical developments or staff usage. Our interventions intend to focus on enhanced preventative measures, rather than being merely reactive.

The lynchpin is our health screening programme. We noticed that screening identified a risk, but only offered treatment once an employee fell ill. Typical UK medical schemes only cover you when you have something identifiably wrong, so we sought to close the gap.

We wanted a tailored programme that treated everyone as individuals and took the view: why test some things every year or two, when we could offer a more effective and enhanced test that might then be needed only every five years? This method has identified many cases of heart disease and a range of cancers from minor to aggressive.

These may be found in people with no symptoms who would not be diagnosed elsewhere. Because our screening provider is also our GP provider, employees can build a relationship with a GP, who can do assessments and follow up with them on any screening outcomes. We have pushed our health screening take-up from 15% to over 70%, with 2024 already on course to be our highest year ever.

Our health assessment also looks at mental health and directs you to a therapist if needed, which is also covered. We have an open approach, where anyone can book a therapist appointment without any referral or prior insurance approval. This easy-access option has increased the use of the service, but means we need the therapy provider and the insurer to work out the claim details behind the scenes.

Lead the way

Our private medical scheme is a trust, so we can tailor benefits and lead the market. There have been many times where we have been one of the first to introduce a change and have seen others follow.

Like many employers, we have seen a large increase in the use of our medical scheme, with more employees using it for minor conditions. We believe early intervention creates better long-term outcomes and less disruption for our staff, their families and the business. It can also make the difference between a minor day treatment and major surgery, entailing extended time off, plus the risk of death or disability, which would undoubtedly increase our insurance premiums after claims.

Our per-head screening cost is similar to that of the standardised one-size-fits-all programme, but it is likely that we have saved staff from very serious health outcomes or even death. The value of that is immeasurable.