Workplace Wellness – Biometric Screenings

To Screen or Not to Screen, that is the Question

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One sure fire way to manage the cost of health care is to simply BE HEALTHY. However, as many people tell me all the time, this is much easier said than done. A reason this is difficult is because people are unaware of their own health risks. This can be attributed to the fact that many people do not utilize the only FREE part of their health care coverage, which is PREVENTION care. Often times, people do not take advantage of free physicals, screenings, and other annual freebies they are granted from being enrolled in a health care program. What many people actually do is use their health care in a reactive way at the emergency room or urgent care, as opposed to using the proactive way of regular visits and annual check-ups. The result of this is higher health care cost for the employer as well as poorer health, lower production, higher absenteeism and higher health care costs for the employee. So what is an employer to do, you can’t readily FORCE the employees to go to the doctor…or can you?

 The short answer is no. An employer cannot force an employee to go to their doctor as a preventive measure. However, you can bring the annual screenings to your place of business and incentivize your employees to participate in the screening.  Conducting biometric screenings in the workplace can be one of the best investments and employee can make towards the long term lowering of their second most costly expense, health care. Investing in a full-fledged health management program which includes biometric screenings will not only engage your employee population to participate in their own health care, it will also bring the much needed awareness to each employee’s health. If people know better, a good majority of them will do better. What this means to the employer is that it can shift costs from reactive care (which is extremely expensive), to proactive/preventive care (which is far less expensive and in some cases free). Biometric screenings will enable your employees proactively uncover if they are on the brink of a catastrophic event, such as heart disease, hypertension, or diabetes. It will show you in aggregate numbers where you should focus your health management resources; ensuring that your dollars are spent in the right place and you will see a return on your investment. Implementing a health management program that includes biometric screenings will create a culture of wellness that will pay dividends for years to come.

There is a down side to implementing this kind of program. There will be push back, from unions especially, there are privacy concerns for many employees, and of course, there is an upfront financial investment. However, with the proper education for your employees (including unions) around privacy and HIPAA laws this down side will be minimized considerably. The financial investment has shown to have an average of a 3:1 return on investment over a 2-3 year period, and an even higher one in many cases. Any CFO or CEO who has long vision will see the benefit to this type of investment without question.

To screen is to get you employees proactively involved with their own health care with a goal of lower costs for you and them.  It will save the employer and employee money on health care cost for the long term. Screening will provide the valuable data necessary to substantiate the need for a health management program and provide aggregate data which can be used to direct those health management resources. A 3:1 ROI will make every dollar spent well worth while in the long run. It will also create a culture of wellness within the company. It seems the answer to the question is clearly to screen.

-Stephanie Gray, MS, CPT, CCWS