Biometric screenings have quickly become the cornerstone of many wellness programs; however, it is important to know what they are and what they are not. If you have excellent participation at your biometric screening, you may get a good look at the current overall health of your population. This is done by measuring important health indicators through blood work, blood pressure, body composition, and other body measurements. The results of these tests may offer insight to areas of concern. Maybe a large percent of your population has high blood pressure or is pre-diabetic- two conditions that will raise health care costs. Additionally, a biometric screening may catch a catastrophic event before it happens in your population who doesn't regularly see a doctor. Biometric screenings have value, but let's be sure you are not confused about what they are not.
1. Biometric screenings are not a wellness program. I commonly ask people I meet if they have a workplace wellness program and so often the answer is, "Yes, every year we have a health screening". A health screening (or biometric screening) is a tool to determine your employee's health, it does not change the health of your population; therefore, it is not a wellness program. Sure, you might have a few employees who make changes due to his or her scary results- after all, fear often motivates people. But overall, biometric screenings simply provide an aggregate baseline of your employees health. Well, of those employees who show up.
2. Knowing the results of your biometric screening will not change the health of your employees. So, you get your screening report and review the results. Great. Maybe you are surprised at your population's health. You shouldn't be. Likely, if you are paying attention, you can visually see the health of your population. Walk the halls, peek into your offices. Are they over weight? Stressed? What are they eating? How many hours per day/week are they working? Are they taking time out to move? A wellness program actively works to improve these indicators, not just point them out.
3. They do not always accurately reflect the health of your population. There are many reasons why a biometric screening may not reflect the true health of your overall population. First of all, not everyone participates (and if they do, please let me know how you make this happen!). Secondly, most commonly, those who do not participate are those who know they are unhealthy and don't want you to find out (again, see #2). So, you may not be capturing the data from your most unhealthy population. If you plan to host a biometric screening focus on participation. Determine what is going to motivate your population to show up. However, unless you get 100% participation, understand that your aggregate results are skewed.
Now, I am not saying that biometric screenings are not important and valuable because they are. I simply want to be clear about what they are not. Now that you understand, implement a wellness program that will improve your biometric screening results!