Department of Science and Technology II
Best Practice Focus Area/s
This is a GBPR entry
The World Health Organization underscored that a healthy workforce plays a vital role in social and economic development at the global, national, and local levels. Employees are considered important assets of any organization, contributing to delivering quality services. Hence, organizations should consider employees’ health a top priority.
Considering the employees’ exposure to various health hazards such as pollution and diseases, as well as having a sedentary lifestyle and stressful environment, the Department of Science and Technology Regional Office 02 (DOST 02) decided to launch the DOST Care. This is spearheaded by its Human Resource and Health and Wellness Team to monitor and promote the overall health of the DOST 02 employees. The DOST Care was implemented in January 2019, starting with the patient profiling of employees and the provision of basic healthcare consultation and counseling by the DOST Care Team.
The monitoring of employees’ health serves as the basis for the constant provision of health care tips, necessary first aid, medication counseling, and recommendation to visit a physician if recorded vital signs are continuously abnormal. With the support of its Human Resource, DOST Care also initiates health-related seminars with themes that depend on the current problems the workforce is facing. The practice is still for improvement, but it has already provided vital health information to the DOST 02’s employees, most of whom had not known about their health risks. Now with DOST Care, all employees can keep track of their current health status and can prevent different possible diseases.
Background and Problem
The DOST 02, the lead agency that promotes and supports science, technology, and innovation, implies that it has a vast responsibility. From its flagship program, the Small Enterprises Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP), and the different regional committees it handles, the agency has a huge workload for its limited number of employees, making them vulnerable to certain diseases.
The agency staff spend most of their work hours in their respective offices drafting proposals and doing clerical work and are hardly deployed for field assignments. Aggravating the lack of physical exertion is the mental stress experienced by staff who usually resort to stress-eating, which further contributes to risk factors of non-communicable diseases like diabetes mellitus type II and hypertension. Other diseases may also arise from these practices, like stroke and cancer. The combination of (1) minimal physical movements to burn excess calories and body fat and (2) relying on fast-food as a means of immediate comfort makes it almost inevitable for DOST 02 employees to be at risk of developing non-communicable diseases.
In the last quarter of 2018, the regional director and the human resource management observed that employees were gaining weight and increasing utilization of their sick leaves. The agency is aware of the hazards of exposure to situations that may affect an employee’s health and recognizes their need for protection. Additionally, the agency heads acknowledged that health challenges may still be unknown to some staff, and they anticipate the staff may ask for help in the future. These concerns led to establishing the DOST Care Team, which would provide healthcare services to the entire agency workforce.
The overall objective of DOST Care is to monitor the basic health status of the DOST 02 personnel by offering the following tests: blood pressure, oxygen saturation, heart rate, and fasting blood glucose/ random blood glucose. These tests provide important information and impose a concern for health among their staff, encouraging them to be checked by a physician and educating them on the advantages of possibly obtaining an early diagnosis should they have a disease or condition needing attention. The project also raises employees’ awareness of their health situation and enables them to seek immediate intervention. Other than that, DOST Care also provides basic health interventions to address health issues experienced by the DOST 02 employees, enabling them to be more efficient in the organization by preventing further damage to their health.
Solution and Impact
DOST Care was one of the workplace health promotion practices of the agency targeting the prevention of non-communicable diseases brought forth by unhealthy habits and sedentary lifestyles. This practice provides the necessary information on the health of the DOST 02 employees, limited to blood pressure, oxygen saturation, heart rate, and blood glucose. The DOST Care thus serves as a health promotion program that instills in its employees a mindset to prioritize their health. With continuous improvement, they will eventually consider it an effective practice in improving health-related outcomes and preventing or decreasing health issues such as obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes.
It was also observed that most of the agency’s senior leaders had already been diagnosed with non-communicable diseases, making them unable to undertake their respective duties. DOST Care addresses this problem by constantly monitoring senior leaders’ health to improve their health status, enhance productivity, reduce sick leaves, reduce turnover and absenteeism. They also hoped that the junior employees, who will soon be the senior leaders, would become more aware of their health status and start considering a healthy lifestyle, rendering them physically ready and fit for future responsibilities in the agency.
The practice started with profiling DOST employees to determine who already had underlying diseases and who were prone to acquiring such so they could be prioritized in health monitoring. The priority health check is immediately conducted upon request of the employees or those staff who are manifesting symptoms. From that point onwards, the team has been conducting the tests once a month, analyzing the results so that those whose numbers fall outside the normal range are provided with non-pharmacological interventions.
They gathered normal values for the different tests from these reliable sources: American Lung Society for Oxygen Saturation, American Heart Society for Heart Rate; Joint National Committee -7 for Blood Pressure; and WebMD for Blood Glucose.
The team records all data gathered in its database, which is kept confidential and can only be accessed by them. Thus, they can monitor the trends in each employee’s health status. The employee may request the results from check-ups for personal purposes, and if results continue to fall outside the normal range for three (3) consecutive check-ups, they would advise the employee to see a physician.
DOST Care, with the support of the agency’s Human Resources, has initiated seminars necessary to provide additional knowledge regarding one’s health. They conducted a seminar last October 2019 that addressed two health issues the agency currently faces: Tobacco Smoke and Mental Health in the workplace.
The DOST Care was recognized as one of the agency’s leadership approaches contributing to the agency’s success in achieving PQA Level II, considered the highest award given to an organization. It will also expand its tests to include Body Mass Index (BMI) monitoring, which is essential in managing and preventing non-communicable diseases.
DOST Care will also provide statistics and necessary information to HR to plan other health-related seminars that will provide additional health information to its employees. The agency initially planned a seminar focusing on non-communicable diseases, basic over-the-counter drug knowledge, and coping with workplace stress. However, these activities were postponed because of the pandemic but will resume once everything goes back to normal.
With the current situation of the country, persistent and more tedious health monitoring is needed. People with co-morbidities like hypertension, diabetes, respiratory illness, and other diseases are more prone to be infected by the coronavirus. DOST Care promotes the welfare of its staff through the early provision of the necessary information for monitoring their health, indirectly preventing the spread of COVID-19.
In coordination with its HR, DOST Care is currently crafting systems that would monitor other necessary information related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The system would include a temperature monitoring and symptoms survey, which will greatly help the DOST 02 employees prevent the spread of the virus, especially if a DOST 02 employee is found to be a COVID-19 carrier. DOST Care, through HR, also initiated its Contact Information Sheet and monitoring system for clients; it will be useful in contact tracing if one of their customers is diagnosed with COVID-19.
Agency staff is asked to maintain a healthy lifestyle and keep their immune system strong. Through DOST Care, the DOST 02 employees are constantly aware of their current health status, which helps prevent the spread of diseases and other health issues that would be detrimental to them.