Why is Employees Health Screening Important for Businesses?

Health Screening now plays an ever more important role in battling in the COVID-19 pandemic towards your employees.

Article by:
Kiren Velu Pillai


Health screening is used to identify employees who may be at risk of a specific disease or condition early, even when there have been no symptoms or signs of the disease. In recent years there has been growing realisation that the workplace is a critical factor in determining an individual's health; after all, one-third of the entire adult life is spent at work.

Unfortunately, not all employees make health screening a priority, based on AIA Vitality 2019 survey, showed that the average awareness rate among employees about health and well-being programmes or interventions offered at the workplaces was at a low 15%, while the participation rate was below 10% based on eligible employees.

To some extend some employees may go for years without visiting a doctor or having their blood pressure, or cholesterol checked. While workplace health screenings cannot replace a physical exam and blood studies carried out by a health professional. However, regular health screening is still able to scan for many NCD which includes high blood pressure, high cholesterol or blood sugar levels that can become more significant health issues later.

What is the importance of Health Screening?

Malaysia is known as the most obese country in South East Asia(SEA), as we are ranked the highest in obesity prevalence rate among adults in SEA at 15.6%, followed by Brunei 14.1%, Thailand 10% and Indonesia 6.9%. Most chronic illnesses, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, stem from obesity. Companies must take note of their employee's wellbeing to ensure smooth productivity and revenue are generated in the company.

Some employers may think that health screening seems like a huge cost to bear but in reality, is that "time is money". If an employee were to fall sick and get admitted for a chronic illness, it would incur high medical costs for the hospitalisation. Below are example where health screening matters most in the Malaysian context.

The case of Undiagnosed Non-Communicable Disease (NCD)

According to the National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS), showed that Malaysian are unaware of being diagnosed with NCD such as diabetes (9.2%), hypertension (17.2%), and hypercholesterolemia (38.6%), which is due to a lack of awareness in their current lifestyle choices such as detrimental eating patterns, sedentary lifestyles and habitual smoking. For example, letting hypertension go undiagnosed and untreated will lead to more prominent risk factors such as stroke, heart attack, heart failure, and aneurysm.

Higher COVID-19 Fatality Rate

As we are still battling the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, while the case fatality rate(CFR) in Malaysia is at a  1% rate translating for every 100 cases, only 1 individual may perish from the virus. While that figure may not raise any cause of concern, based on NST reports, 70% of COVID-19 death are related towards those have NCD. Moreover, recent data from obtaining from CodeBlue shows that the top five comorbidities linked towards COVID-19 death were patient diagnosed with hypertension (52%), diabetes mellitus (38%), ischaemic heart disease/ heart disease (16%), chronic kidney disease (14%) and dyslipidaemia (12%).

COVID-19 Vaccine Ineffectiveness

Another worrying fact is about COVID-19 Vaccines; in particular, Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines are less effective with obese individuals. The research suggests that any individual over the Body Mass Index(BMI) over 30 could produce only about half of the antibody compared to a healthy individual. This could be due to the possibility of excess body fat, which causes metabolic changes, such as insulin resistance and inflammation, which make it harder for the body to fight off infections.

Main Takeaway

Based on the data above, we can conclude that most Malaysian are generally unaware being diagnosed with NCD and supposed they were infected with the virus from any of the comorbidity above, their lives are very much at risk even after getting vaccinated as their body could only produces half the antibodies compared to a healthy employee. These chronic diseases will add complications and create unnecessary indirect and direct operating expense towards business, if employee lives are lost.

How is health screening beneficial towards corporates?

Health Screening packages offer numerous benefits to both the employee and the employer. Here are some essential benefits of health screening in your organisation:

One of the biggest advantage being fewer absences from work are important in the Malaysian business landscape as corporations tend to lose an average of 67 days a year to absenteeism or presenteeism due to poor health and fitness. Below is a table from  Ministry of Health Malaysian in collaboration with the World Health Organisation(WHO), which showcases absenteeism based on the disease category:

Source: The impact of Noncommunicable Diseases and their risk factors on Malaysia`s Gross Domestic Product

The average yearly cost of health-related absenteeism and presenteeism per organisation is estimated at RM2.7 million based on a report from Malaysia's Healthiest Work Place by AIA Vitality and WHO also reports that nearly RM 9 billion in productivity losses annually to the Malaysian economy.

While health screening generates more awareness of these NCD and understanding employee health status, employers should also follow up with a corporate wellness program in order to eradicating employee underlying health issue that will result in lower medical leave and a healthier workforce. A study from the NCBI showed that for every USD 1(RM 4.11) spent on wellness program, the average medical cost fall by USD 3.27(RM 13.43) and that absenteeism costs by$2.73(RM11.21).


Ultimately, the employee health screening ensures that employers recognised their workforce health implication towards productivity, absenteeism, and organisations' ability to retain employees of the highest quality. Therefore, health screening is a worthy investment towards the better quality of the life of an employee in the long run, as most of these chronic illnesses may not show symptoms at an early stage, thus any actions by the employer to encourage employees to do health screening as prevention is better than cure.

At HealthMetrics, we provide a variety of services, from employee health screening to wellness programs and other health services to accommodate your company needs. You can proceed by dropping your contact information by clicking on the banner above or email us at marketing@healthmetrics.com.

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