Healthy People

Employers are Creating a Culture of Health through Workplace Health Screenings

Employers are using workplace health screenings as a tool to create a culture of “wellness” – and to potentially rein in costs.

“The American Heart Association has created a universal blueprint for employers to run worksite health screenings,” said Dr. Ross Arena, chair of the AHA committee who produced the guideline.

The paper, published in online journal Circulation, includes an array of key points form businesses, such as: which health variables should be used to gauge cardiovascular risk; what type of health professionals should be recruited to run the screenings; how to protect patient information; and the role of financial incentives.

“We recommend, based on best practices, the measures that should be included in the screenings are the ones everyone is familiar with – body weight, smoking, physical activity, blood sugar or glucose, cholesterol, blood pressure and diet,” said Arena, who is a professor and head of the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Those “Simple 7” are established, traditional biometric measures the AHA recommends as tried and true ways to measure cardiovascular risk. And health screenings at workplaces, where adults spend a lot of their time, are critical to help educate employees and improve their health.

But health screenings shouldn’t be a stand-alone offering, especially for at-risk employees, Arena said. They should be part of a comprehensive workplace wellness program. “If you just screen and leave it at that, it’s not beneficial in the long run.”

“It’s so important to reach people early,” said Laurie Whitsel, director of policy research for the AHA. “We know a healthier workforce is more productive. There’s greater retention, less absenteeism. It’s more beneficial for employers’ bottom line. I think employers are concerned about their employees’ well-being, and this is one way to ensure they have the best possible health care, and that they understand their risk factors.”

Companies who hold employees accountable for their health results are required by the federal health insurance law to hold at least an annual screening. Increasingly, businesses across the country are using financial incentives in hopes they save on health benefit costs.

Companies typically either start with lower premiums and charge more for employees not participating in health programs – or, they begin with higher premiums and give discounts to those who take part in wellness activities and checks.

But Incentives Are Only The Beginning

The AHA, along with several other organizations, published a guidance paper to employers in 2012 about outcomes-based incentives. Published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, it said that long term lifestyle changes or management of risk factors need more than financial motivation.

“The key to a successful worksite wellness program capable of sustaining behavioral change is the creation of a culture and environment that supports health and wellness,” according to the report. “Within this context, the role of an extrinsic motivator- like an incentive – is to activate employees to learn about health and wellness, engage in wellness program components, and begin selected behavior changes.”

The AHA and other organizations have a trove of online tools and programs, such as the Healthy Workplace Food and Beverage Toolkit, to help businesses go beyond screenings and create a culture of wellness.

Dr. Arena said there are lots of new programs and novel ideas companies can use to inspire employees to lead healthy lifestyles. Most of it is centered on the “Simple 7”, including such items as gyms, healthy food choices, walking trails, weight-loss programs and smoke-free workplaces.

“It’s not a one-size-fits-all,” he said. “Different types of companies and worksites need to be flexible. We have embodied this flexibility in the new policy statement, creating a worksite health screening template that can be integrated into a broad array of settings.”

Screening Numbers

Why is Knowing Your Numbers So Important?

Knowledge is Power! When you own your health, you are taking control of your life and your future. You could gain peace of mind knowing that the way you are feeling is actually what is happening inside your body. You could also find a health issue that you did not know about and have no symptoms of. Detecting any health issues before they become severe can add years to your life and save you thousands of dollars.

How Does A Health Screening Work?

A health screening is designed to be an easy and convenient scheduled assessment of your health. When you arrive you will be greeted by a clerk who will sign you in. They will ask you to fill out a consent form and Heart Screening Results questionnaire. This fingerstick screening takes approximately 10-15 minutes for each participant. The goal is to provide you with information on…

  • Height/Weight/Waist
  • Body Mass Index and Body Fat %
  • Blood pressure
  • Total Cholesterol
  • HDL
  • LDL
  • Triglycerides
  • Glucose

The results are instant and your nurse will provide you with some helpful information to
take home.

Keep In Mind

  • ALL RESULTS ARE CONFIDENTIAL. No individual data is shared with your employer.
  • Atlanta Health Systems takes great care to ensure your privacy
  • Please do not eat or drink (water and black coffee are ok) anything 8 hours prior
    to a screening!
Healthy Tips

5 Tips to Help You Have Your Best Biometric Screening Yet

Yearly screenings are one of the most important aspects of a successful workplace wellness program. Results of these screenings can offer a lot of valuable insight to your overall health and provide you with your key health numbers, including body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, glucose, cholesterol and HDL.

It’s normal for you to be a bit nervous about what your screening results will say. No one wants to see their numbers fall into unhealthy ranges! It’s important that you understand that a biometric screening is just a snapshot of your health at any given moment. It shows you what your numbers are on the specific day and time of your screening.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to make sure your screening results are as accurate and as healthy as possible. By paying close attention to your habits leading up to your screening, you’ll be able to display the healthiest and most natural numbers that are closest to your baseline health level.

Here are 5 tips to help you have your healthiest (and most accurate!) biometric screening yet:

1. Pay attention to sugar.

Be sure to keep an eye out for extra sugary foods the night before or day of your screening. Consuming too many sugary foods – like candy, fast food, or soda – the night before or the morning of your screening can impact your results. Metrics like blood sugar and cholesterol can be affected directly by the foods you eat. While it’s important to keep up with your regular diet to receive the most accurate results, it’s not a good idea to binge on candy or treats the night before.

2. Limit the drinks.

Drinking too much alcohol the night before your screening can also mess with your results. As your body tries to recover and purge the alcohol from your system, it’ll be working in ways that aren’t necessarily normal for you. Your blood sugar and blood pressure can start to skyrocket. If you want to indulge in a drink the night before, try to stick with just one for best results!

3. Try not to stress.

Stress impacts your blood pressure. So, try not to schedule your screening appointment after a stressful event. If you’re stressing over a big project while at your screening, or if you walk straight in from a big meeting, you’re likely to have a higher-than-normal blood pressure reading.

4. Know your meds.

There’s no need to stop taking any prescribed medications before your screening. But it is important to know which medications you’re on and what the potential side effects might be.

5. Understand your results.

One of the most important parts of your biometric screening experience is to be sure that you understand your results. You will get to chat with your screener and go over what your results mean. It’s important not to skip this step because without understanding what your numbers mean, you won’t know how to improve certain areas of your health.

To get the most accurate, healthy screening results possible, you should understand how your health behaviors might impact your results. Be sure to share the above tips with your fellow employees before your upcoming biometric screening event!