Is this the year to invest in prevention rather than cure? asks Charlotte Cole
The Scoop: Getting a Full Bill of Health
Tripping lightly in a snuggly white robe up the stairs to my room at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel after an insomnia-obliterating Oskia warm oil massage isn’t a bad way to end a day. But this has been quite the day; not one, however, that you’re likely to regret – welcome to The Echelon Optimum, quite possibly the most thorough and comprehensive preventative medical health check on the market.
From when we’re children, it’s drummed into us that our health is the most important thing there is. And while we’re relatively fit and young, we may be tempted to kick the internal consequences of our lifestyle choices (excessive trans fats and sugar intake, alcohol, drugs…), not to mention lack of sleep and stress (probably the two most important factors when it comes to future ill health), squarely down the line. But as one of the preeminent pioneers in trauma research and treatment, Bessel van der Kolk, told us in his seminal work, The Body Keeps the Score, while we may not be able to see or feel the effects of our lifestyles, our internal system is certainly clocking our choices with a beady eye, a sharp pen and a notepad.
In an ideal world, from the age of around 40, says Echelon’s founder, endocrinologist Dr Jenkins, who trained at The Royal London Hospital before joining St Barts for 20 years and setting up Echelon in 2006, we’d all be offered more preventative health checks. It goes without saying that the earlier you can pick up an anomaly or an internal change, the easier (and cheaper) it is to treat. Sadly, said Utopia does not exist, but if you have the money, you can get as close as possible to gaining a real understanding of your current health and its future trajectory.
Once you’ve decided to invest in yourself, you’ll be in good hands. Echelon’s competent (and kind) client liaison, Hannah, instantly puts you at ease and talks you through the upcoming day of tests. You’ll have some prep to do (questionnaires, online tests, a short fast); but once you’ve been picked up from the hotel (yes, you get to stay there the day before too), your day will pass like an evening of speed dating, except with machines. And these machines are the very best on the market.
No lymph node will be left unturned; from all-over body mole examinations to heart scans (you’ll be shown cross section photos of your arteries to see if they are furred up or not, which tells you the likelihood of a heart attack); from ultrasounds and mammograms to a rather uncomfortable colon scan (where your stomach is blown up with gas to reveal your innards to the scanner and you feel like you might just explode) and a CT scan of your brain, you’ll go from scan to scan in what can feel like a bit of a route march – but actually the day has been cleverly designed to get the all the tests done in as short a time as possible (such a service is not offered elsewhere). And of course, there’s Hannah to perk you up with coffees and lunch – and that Oskia massage to look forward to.
Results are delivered in a face to face (or Zoom) meeting with Dr Jenkins a few days later. If the tests have picked up anything suspect and you require immediate attention, they’ll arrange everything by connecting you with the best doctors in the business and liaising with your insurance company, to take the administrative sting out of any potentially upsetting news. Ideally, something pernicious will have been caught early enough to be able to deal with it swiftly to prevent the condition becoming chronic or terminal. There’s no guarantee, of course.
Should you have a clean bill of health, Dr Jenkins advises that ideally you repeat the process every two years or so. Totting it up, that’s an eye-watering investment but, at what price health?
The Echelon Optimum (full assessment with a two-night stay at the Mandarin Oriental and chauffeur) is £14,000 per person. echelon.health