Meet the doctor who's looking out for you

Doctors looking at x-ray board

As the old adage suggests, prevention is better than cure. It's a passionate topic for our Medical Director, Dr Amit Sethi.

What does the Medical Director at Bupa Global do?

Bupa Global is a genuinely clinically led company, so as the Medical Director I am plugged into all aspects of the business - whether it’s wellness interventions or working with our providers worldwide to help to manage our patients’ healthcare, both in hospital and out. One of the major areas of my role is to make sure our customer get the right care at the right time and in the right place.

Is there any area of medicine that you are particularly passionate about?

Around 95 per cent of money in the world health economy is spent after people have already become ill – after the horse has bolted, if you like. We could spend a fraction of that in preventative medicine and get better health outcomes. One of the main things that I am passionate about, is to find roles that allow me to promote good health on an ever-increasing scale, and therefore reduce the progression to illness. Leading causes of death in the world today, such as heart disease, arise due to diseases we do not catch but rather develop, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Working in partnership with our customers gives us the chance to stop these diseases.

What does good health actually mean?

If we ask ten different people what good health is, we may get ten different answers. For many, the definition of good health is the absence of illness, which is an interesting concept, because actually most of the physical markers that can cause illnesses are invisible. I could be sitting here with high blood pressure, but I won’t feel ill. But is that really good health? My stroke and heart attack risk has increased and I'm potentially shaving 10-15 years off my life. For me, good health is a state of mind and body that allows me to fulfil the functions I wish to fulfil and perform to my maximum. And that also includes my life expectancy and what I can expect to feel like in 5 , 10, 20 or even 50 years.

"Around 95% of the money in the world health economy is spent after people have become ill", Dr Amit Sethi

What is the key, then, to making positive, sustainable changes?

Eating well and keeping active to make sure that your blood sugar or cholesterol levels aren't too high – these are the kinds of investments we should be making every day to ensure everything contributes to our wellbeing. Time and again in my career I see people who do fad diets and extreme exercise routines which are short-term solutions and usually not sustainable. It is the mental discipline and the decision to maintain consistent good health choices that is the real hard work - and will have the biggest pay off.

What achievement in Bupa Global are you most proud of?

SSomething unique to Bupa Global that I'm immensely proud of is our own in-house evacuation and repatriation service, which is run out of Copenhagen with 24/7 expert medical support from leaders in this field. I have also been helping to further improve systems and processes to ensure uniform standards in any of the 190 countries in which Bupa Global provides access to treatment. Our customers need to know that if they get unwell miles from their usual standard of care they will still get medical help that is internationally validated, best practice medicine.

What is the future for healthcare? Will doctors always be relevant – even with technological leaps?

What’s exciting is how technology can empower patients and change how healthcare professionals are accessed. Crowdsourcing in the future will mean patients being able to understand more about their illness and all the treatment choices I think. But it’s the issue of access to professionals such as physicians, dieticians and others - and the ability to tailor that to people’s needs that is most interesting. For example, people are more mobile than ever now - you could live in New York but only spend 20 per cent of your time there, yet your doctor is three blocks from where you live. So what do you do? The idea of a “doctor in your pocket”, using video and mobile technology in conjunction with wearable technology to allow constant meaningful healthcare interventions wherever you are is incredibly exciting.

Dr Amit Sethi MRCGP Medical Director, Bupa Global

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