26 Mar Wellness Question #67: Should health screenings occur annually?

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Medical guidelines from organizations like the CDC and the American Heart Association have age/gender-based screening protocols in place. They state that annual glucose screenings, blood pressure checks and cholesterol checks are not necessary for all adults. A blood pressure check, for example, is recommended at least every two years. However, if you have already been diagnosed with heart disease or other risk factors for heart disease, your blood pressure measurement should be more closely monitored.1 Similar guidelines apply to cholesterol and glucose as well.2

With GINA regulations prohibiting programs from even asking individuals about the presence of a significant high-risk factor, family history of disease or other conditions that can only be determined by completing a biometric screening, employers are unable to segment the population into groups that need annual screenings and those that don’t. The only logical (and compliant) option left for employers who want to address high risks in their population is to screen everyone annually, regardless of whether or not they need it. This at least gives every individual in the wellness plan an equal opportunity to review results with their provider, who can then ask the important risk-related questions and make personalized recommendations.

And from a program compliance standpoint, you have to give wellness program participants a chance to requalify at least once a year.

The benefits of annual screenings:

  • Individuals develop a relationship with a primary care provider, giving them a way to review their results and set an appropriate course of action.
  • Increased visits to this provider may result in fewer visits to the emergency room. This could drive lower cost for the plan as well as the employee.
  • Annual screenings help keep health top of mind! As we age, it becomes harder and harder to stay healthy and this screening provides everyone with a way to monitor their health and identify risks early on.
  • High-risk individuals are able to monitor their progress and track improvement. These screenings motivate them to continue working towards better health.

With the support of our medical director, Bravo recommends screening participants once a year in order to get the most out of your wellness initiatives.

Have questions related to the frequency of screenings or which screening method has the biggest impact? Share them with us and we will be happy to provide a third party perspective. questions@bravowell.com

1 http://www.cdc.gov/dhdsp/docs/Vital_Signs_QA.pdf

2 http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Heart-Health-Screenings_UCM_428687_Article.jsp#.VvPaKUIrK00

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