The Role of Wellness in the Workplace
Many employers are not immune to or unaware of the high costs of chronic disease. But do they know the majority of chronic diseases could be prevented, delayed, or controlled by lifestyle factors?
The workplace is an ideal place to initiate a shift towards prevention, but we have our work cut out for us.
In 2015, only 8% of U.S. adults age 35 and older received all of their high-priority, appropriate clinical preventive services. Nearly 5% of adults did not receive any such services.
Employers (who front the majority of employees' health care costs) may benefit from improved risk identification and management by altering future healthcare projections of worsening health coupled with higher costs.
Employees who have an established relationship with a primary care physician also benefit by having better health outcomes and lower costs.
How to Initiate Risk Prevention and Management
Including screenings and health risk assessments in your employee wellness program are a great way to kickstart your employees' wellness journey by providing awareness and highlighting the value of prevention and proactive care.
While having a primary care physician can equate to improved health and well-being, getting employees to regularly see their doctor is encourageable but not enforceable.
Incentives can play a crucial role in increasing participation in screening and health risk assessments (HRAs). Here are several important factors to consider when building out your employee wellness program and engagement strategy.
5 Reasons to Offer Health Screenings and HRAs in your Wellness Program
1. Health screenings play an essential role in employee well-being.
Individuals can be alerted to risk factors that may detect disease early, regardless of how healthy they may look or feel at the time. At Bravo, every year we have hundreds of people who discover they are prediabetic, diabetic or hypertensive. Many who had zero indication that they had these conditions.
Annual screenings also help keep health top of mind! As we age, it becomes harder and harder to stay healthy. They provide everyone with a structured way to monitor their health and identify risks early on.
2. Screenings help drive the primary care relationship.
A significant portion of the population does not have a primary care physician. On-site screenings can be a powerful tool to help individuals with AND without a primary care relationship to understand their numbers.
A health screening is not the same as an annual physical, but helps measure health and detect abnormalities that an individual should bring to a primary care provider. This way, they can review results with a physician who understands their family history and set an appropriate course of action. In that context, screenings can be a compelling starting point for a conversation with their doctor.
For those employers who prefer screenings with a physician, the increased frequency of visits with a primary care physician may result in fewer visits to the emergency room and more effective use of the benefit plan overall for preventative care, driving lower costs for employers and employees overall.
3. Screenings and HRAs are continually improving, helping build awareness and guide steps towards improvement.
Some of the best HRA products are much smarter than they used to be. Bravo’s standard product allows participants to immediately understand their health age after completing the HRA and educates them about the dangers of too much sugar intake, not enough physical activity, and the importance of sleep and caring for your social, emotional and mental health, for example.
4. Screenings and HRAs help build smarter employee benefit plans.
On-site screenings allow high-risk individuals to monitor their progress and track improvement, all without causing a claim (a doctor’s visit) to hit the benefit plan. If the screening indicates a need to meet with a doctor, then the claims are more likely to be from those who truly needed the visit.
Collecting aggregated biometric and health risk assessment data also gives your HR and benefits team an understanding of the most prominent health and well-being needs of the population. This information can guide the organization to make better decisions about additional interventions, or alert them to better promote their existing resources. The aggregated data also helps aim targeted interventions by subgroup, job class or location.
5. Screenings help overcome the biggest objections to seeking preventative and reactive medical care.
Research shows that some of the biggest obstacles to seeking medical care are related to:
- A low perceived need of medical care (12%),
- Barriers to seeking or obtaining medical care (58.4%, e.g. financial and time constraints)
- Unfavorable evaluations of seeking medical care (33%, e.g. does not like or trust the doctor, has low confidence in their expertise, fearful of bad news, pain, or embarrassment)
Using Incentives to Drive Participation in Screenings and HRA Completion
When it comes to engaging employees in your wellness program, and more specifically in health screenings, we must consider their perspective, time, and money.
If your participants don’t understand the intent or benefit of seeing a primary care provider or completing a health screening or HRA, they’re less likely to participate. Make sure that these activities are worth their time, and are not burdensome. After all, completing a screening and identifying any risks before they become claims will lead to more efficient use of the healthcare system. Thank them for taking accountability and doing their part to share in the reduction of health risks and the long-term cost trend.
On a recent webinar, we revealed a few plan designs that show you how to implement a voluntary outcomes-based wellness program so that you can measure outcomes for the benefit of your organization, and inspire employees to achieve health improvements, one step at a time.