Biometric screenings have always been an important component to an overall wellness program and they are even more crucial in the midst of a pandemic. Screenings help identify preventive measures, which is one of the best ways to control costs and potential risks to a plan. With employees being aware of their health conditions at an earlier stage, it gives them the opportunity to make lifestyle changes. It also lends the employer an opportunity to plan for future expenses.
For programs that were disrupted during the early parts of the pandemic, you were likely scrambling to maintain any level of programming already set for 2020 and hope to continue into 2021. As we continue to learn more about COVID-19 and its effects on those with various co-morbidities, we find that those with multiple risk factors seem to have more severe cases and after-effects from COVID-19. But establishing a combination of regular biometric screenings and effective wellness programming will lower your risk.
Here’s what biometric screenings can identify
Early identification of lifestyle-related conditions has always been one of the driving reasons behind screenings. This connection extends further as research has shown a correlation with COVID-19. If screenings can help to identify co-morbidities earlier, individuals have the opportunity to not only minimize the initial risk, (i.e. the condition), but also the potential to be more at risk for other, more severe health conditions. This theory has been applied for heart disease and diabetes alike. By controlling the initial risk factors of high blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose levels, we can mitigate risk for more complex, system-wide conditions.
Per the CDC Coronavirus resources page, adults of any age with certain underlying medical conditions are at an increased risk for severe illness. This is defined as hospitalization, ICU admission, ventilation or death.
These include, but not limited to:
- Chronic kidney disease
- Heart conditions
- Hypertension or high blood pressure
- Liver disease
- Type I or II diabetes
The more frequently an employee is screened for these conditions, the more likely they can make healthy lifestyle changes to decrease their risk of COVID-19. However, these regular screenings can be daunting, which is why it’s important to establish strong wellness programs to encourage them to participate.
What makes wellness programs effective?
There are two types of programs you can implement:
- Participation-based programs are tied to a single event in which by participating an incentive is earned. An example of this would be to offer differential or monetary rewards for completing biometric screenings.
- Outcomes-based programs look at meeting a certain metric as defined by the program. This could be having in-range biometrics or earning certain points throughout the year by completing various wellness activities. Outcomes-based programs are often time’s year-long and employees “work” the program to earn an incentive.
Safety is an important consideration this year, which is why screening vendors have adapted and enforced a COVID-19 protocol for any onsite screening event. They are taking extra caution and sanitary measures to ensure a safe and clean screening environment for any visitors.
In addition, this flu shot season will be busier than ever as a way to avoid decreasing immunity and keeping oneself healthy. While the flu vaccine will not protect someone from COVID-19, having a healthier immune system will. Make sure to share a list of your in-network pharmacies to your employees and remind them that for some insurance plans, flu shots are fully covered.
Don’t wait to establish a wellness program!
If we learned anything from COVID-19, it’s that we never know what’s around the corner and new health conditions can affect your plan at any time. That’s why being aware of pre-emerging risk factors, monitoring existing conditions, and being aware of trending lab values can help control risks and minimize the likelihood for high-cost claims.
For programs that have been disrupted during the ongoing pandemic, Horton’s Wellness Consulting team can assist in building out programming in setting your program back on track. If you’d like to start offering biometric screening or a formal wellness program please reach out to Laura Czekanski at Laura.CzekanskI@thehortongroup.com.
Material posted on this website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a legal opinion or medical advice. Contact your legal representative or medical professional for information specific to your legal or medical needs.