Healthy Span is not simply an index that shows how long human has lived, but how long he had a healthy life while engaging in physical activities. It’s said that the health life expectancy of Korean people in 2013is 81.9 years old. It has rapidly increased from 65.69 years old in 1980 and 76.02 years old in 2000. Now is the time to consider healthy span important more than life expectancy. At this critical time when there is an increasing recognition of and constant demands for health screening with the increasing interests in healthy life, there are also the Health Screening & Promotion Center and the director of this Center who is keen on providing health examination services for the extension of human life span. Shall we meet Jaewon Choi, the director of ASAN Medical Center who delivered a precious story during a brief time of the interview?

Dr. Jaewon Choi

Could you define the level of health screening technology in Korea comparing with other countries? 
Currently, Korea’s health screening technology level is well developed enough not to be followed even by Japan. As the importance of health care and early diagnosis with national income increases is emphasized, the type and scope of healthexamination has been expanded and systemized and now it took its position as one field of clinical preventive medicine. Not only for the basic medical checkups, but also the in depth checkups and patient customized result management are programmed and systemized and thus various examinations are conducted in one-stop service. Now we have reached the stage where we can export such experiences and systems overseas. 

What are the features of the health screening and promotion center at ASAN medical center?
By using the medical checkup programs and developed systems, 15 radiology medical are reading CT, MRI, etc on the examination day and we’ve established ‘fast track’ for rapid reading of biopsy results. 
For qualitative improvement of tests, man-power development is considered as essential. For this reason, more than 60 SCI research papers by the main authors and corresponding authors have been published during three years. Furthermore, polyps detection rate during endoscopic examination is over 30 % but generally it is between 17 % and 25 %.

What kinds of examinations are taken mostly by international patients and what services do you provide for them?
Over 1,000 patients from 80 countries are coming to Korea to have a health screening at ASAN medical center. We recommend our customized program according to the characteristics of each country for them. We have specialized programs for cancer, heart, and brain. Each patient has a medical consultation with professional medical staff and then he undergoes the customized health screening program. 
We are providing the patients with personal medical interpreting service, examination results translation service, arrangement of schedule considering their early returning home and multilingual signboard.

Can you suggest when we need to start health examinations and how often we need it? 
Men and women in their 40s should care health since they are in the period when various health problem factors accumulated from their 30s can cause diseases and the frequency of critical illnesses such as cancer and cardiovascular disorder starts to increase rapidly. Custom examinations considering family history and past medical history are required. In addition, if you are a male in 40s who smokes, I would like to recommend pulmonary CT test besides chest x-ray and if you have a family who has a history of colorectal cancer, endoscopic examination of large intestine is also good option to add that are usually taken by the 50s. The 50s is the age when various in-depth examinations are required for early detection of critical illnesses such as cancer and cardiovascular disorder. In particular, the endoscopic examination is one of the critical exam items and if you do not have hereditary abnormalities or inflammatory bowel disease, the removal of polypus by early detection can prevent the colorectal cancer. The examinations recommended for men and women aged over 60, are not different from those recommended in 50s, but the necessity of early diagnosis and early treatment through long-term and intensive examination is emphasized because the incidence of cancer, cerebral infarction, brain hemorrhage, and cardiac infarction is high.

Are there any examinations you would recommend for Korean CEOs for health?
I’ve seen many CEOs delaying their health examination due to busy schedule or negligent in their health care because of difficulty in arranging time although consistent management is needed after health examination. For such CEOs, we are operating a premium membership program. This program contains customized health examination program design considering details of each and every customer, sufficient health care consultation with the best prestigious professors in each treatment area of expertise, 1:1protocol with attending nurse and follow-up health care system sustained for one year after health examination, family health care considering the health of family members, and global health care that can be provided overseas.