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'Super Physical': Mayo Clinic Program Helps Patients Get Proactive About Health

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- It's an eye-opening statistic: On average, we spend just five minutes a year talking to our doctors.

But a unique program at Mayo Clinic sets aside hours of time to help patients live healthier lives -- consider it a super physical. WCCO shows us how the exams are becoming more popular with busy patients from all walks of life.

As a young, healthy woman with a full-time career, you might not expect 34-year-old Elizabeth Hall to spend a few days at the doctor every year.

"My generation is not being proactive likely about their health," Hall said.

But that time at the Center for Executive Health at Mayo Clinic keeps her focused for her long days.

As chief operating officer for John Hall's Alaska Cruises and Tours, Hall is back and forth from Lake City, Minnesota to the Last Frontier on marathon bus trips and flights.

Born with an abnormal heart rhythm, Hall has undergone surgeries before. She admits her appointments in the past were always reactionary -- until she heard of the proactive approach here.

"Schedules are incredibly insane now-a-days," Hall said.

What started a half century ago with two doctors and a few regular patients has grown into a large community of its own.

"We are the largest and the oldest executive health program in the country," Dr. Stephanie Faubion said.

She is one of 60 doctors who work with a list of more than 10,000 regular patients in the program. Your overall health care needs are taken care of in the 39,000- square-foot facility with areas that feel more like a fancy hotel than a hospital.

"Many of us spend weeks getting an appointment here an appointment there, trying to get a summary. Having it all done in a consolidated way is really a time saver," Dr. Faubion said.

After first meeting with their primary physician for 90 minutes, those patients then follow a detailed itinerary of what their next two or three days will look like.  From blood to bone density tests, every hour is accounted for.

"It's not that impersonal in and out, it's we get to know our patients," she said.

Hall takes a stress test each year on a treadmill.

It monitors how her body responds to pressure.

An annual EKG looks for signs of heart disease, while measuring if that muscle is working the way it should.

"We're really trying to gauge how fit people are and help them optimize that," Dr. Faubion said.

Dr. Faubion pushes the same advice to most her patients. Get seven to nine hours of sleep every night, eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains and manage stress, whether it be through getting together with friends or meditation. She says these simple steps will make a measurable change year to year.

"We'll get you in and out in three to four days and really make sure you're in good shape. That's a value to companies as well," Dr. Faubion said.

From educators to farmers, Mayo doctors see patients from around the world from all different walks of life.

"That could mean a two-person small business or it could mean a very large corporation," Dr. Faubion said.

Dr. Faubion has found they're all highly motivated to make changes, like Hall, who made sleep and regular exercise a priority. Hoping to stay healthy to fully enjoy her success.

At the end of their appointments, patients meet again with their doctor to go over their results and devise an action plan. In most cases, Mayo says insurance will cover the majority of the appointments

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