As corporate health screenings are a common wellbeing program element, their popularity has dipped over the past year as practitioners and employers rethink the value proposition of biometric screenings. Recent coverage suggests they should either be stopped or offered less frequently.
The basis for this change is argued from the point of view about perceived invasion of privacy, changing regulations, over-screening and an over-reliance on results tied to incentives. This kind of “check-the-box approach” could leave some participants feeling forced to jump through hoops. Research also questions how money used for screenings could be better spent elsewhere, such as teaching individuals to be better consumers of health services or investing in wellbeing through professional development, financial education, social/emotional connections and community.
Challenging this emerging viewpoint was the original case for bringing biometric screenings to the workplace. When offered in a work setting, screenings give employees convenience and affordable access to meaningful health information and follow-up. They serve to help identify unaware or at-risk individuals with important health measures—such as height, weight, BMI, waist circumference, lipids, glucose, and blood pressure.
Providing these readings offers a quick glance at risk factors, lifestyle choices and chronic and costly conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. When combined with health coaching, resources, and guidance, they provide valuable information and serve to motivate individuals to get the support they need and act to be healthier. The ease of receiving these results at work can add value to participants, too.
Recent studies by Optum [2-4] provides evidence in support of corporate biometric screenings, indicating these help employees more easily identify health risks that could lead to disease. Participants were found to have a slower progression of disease than nonparticipants and also had more engagement with primary care providers and participation in telephonic coaching. Biometric screening participants had a lower rate of high-cost services such as ER utilization and inpatient admissions when compared to programs without chronic conditions.
Worksite biometric screenings are not meant to provide a complete picture of health, but they can provide easy, helpful information that empowers people to make change. If our focus is on the wellbeing of those around us, these screenings are a useful part of creating an overall culture of wellbeing.
If your organization is interested in discussing the benefits of biometric screenings for your population, please reach out to the Gallagher Health Management team.
- How to Build a Thriving Culture at Work by Rosie Ward and Jon Robison
- Biometrics Value Story: Attitude, Preference Impact Webinar
- Zhu, LI PhD, “Biometric Screening Impact Analysis, Program Cost Savings and Medical Utilization Analyses”, Optum Healthcare Economics, 12/27/17
- Steinfeld, David. “ Comparision of Members With & Without A Biometric Screening”. UnitedHealthcare Economics, 1/10/18