Business of Well-being

The Missing Ingredient in Corporate Wellness

Justin Bellante explains how home-based health tests can form the foundation of a corporate wellness program that engages both employees and dependents. Many employees are asking themselves a simple question: If information is pervasive and we are always "plugged in," how come we can't access the most vital information of all - information about our health?

Home health testing companies and healthcare IT firms are striving to address this demand by making it easy for people to obtain, track and monitor vital biometric information-without having to visit a lab. Employees can order test kits to screen for diabetes, heart disease, colon cancer, and other chronic conditions.

In conjunction with an online health assessment that identifies risk factors, these programs serve as an early warning sign for potentially devastating health problems. In a typical home testing program, participants sign up through a secure website, order test kits online, mail a tiny blood sample to a certified lab, and then view their test results through secure, password-protected accounts.

In addition to individual lab reports, some home testing companies provide physician discussion forms that can be shared with a doctor. They can also seamlessly connect users with a health coach via a toll-free number, making results more actionable.

Employees obtain advanced screening tools, easy-to-read laboratory results as well as comprehensive health assessments - all at the click of a button. Employers benefit too. Home testing programs have proven their ability to increase overall screening participation, provide employers with valuable aggregate health data, and make knowledgeable decisions about the health care needs of their employee populations.

Counting the Costs

While it's great to give employees control - not to mention offer screening services to people in small offices and remote locations - another motivation for these programs is a desire to reduce spiraling health care costs. For the price of a lab visit or an on-site screening, employers can screen for chronic diseases in a pervasive way-reaching not just home-office employees, but individuals at remote offices, plus their dependents.

With home screening, HR professionals can avoid costly facility set-up time and workplace interruptions. In addition, home screening avoids lost productivity and saves employers an average of $8.50 to $33.50 per screened employee versus other corporate screening methods. If a health-screening program uncovers even one undiagnosed case of diabetes or heart disease, it has probably paid for itself. Given the high incidence of undiagnosed conditions in the general population, that's a likely scenario.

According to a recent study conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 25 percent of America's workforce has cardiovascular disease, 26 percent tested positive for high blood pressure, 30 percent suffer from high cholesterol, 38 percent are overweight and 6 percent are diabetic. Some home testing companies offer a turnkey system to help employers launch the program and sign up participants.

Employers can select the type of test kits they want to offer, whether they want live support from health coaches, and if they plan to offer an incentive to encourage users to participate. Some employers offer cash incentives. Others offer premium reductions. Once the program website is online it's driven by users, with minimal involvement from HR or occupational health personnel.

Participants sign up, order tests, receive reminders, and obtain lab results via personal health dashboards. They can also complete an online health risk assessment to identify risk factors and put their test results into a personalized context. Throughout the program, HR managers can receive updates on program participation rates.

At the end of the program, HR managers receive aggregate reports that sum up the overall health of the population. These reports reveal which risk factors are most prevalent within the member population so they can make corresponding adjustments to their health care plans.

The Essential Corporate Wellness Ingredient

Over two thirds of all U.S. companies offer wellness programs that include smoking cessation programs, nutrition advice and gym memberships, and there is no sign that this trend is slowing down. What's lacking in many of these programs is hard biometric data that employees and employers can use as a yardstick to measure improvement.

Home testing programs can gather this important data to complement and extend other wellness initiatives. These programs not only make sense for individuals wanting to stay healthy. They make good business sense for employers as well.

About the Author

Justin Bellante is CEO of BioIQ, a healthcare IT company that offers home test kits and web-based health-screening solutions. BioIQ helps people monitor and screen for diabetes, cancer, heart disease and other chronic health conditions through comprehensive home testing programs.

Described by ABC News as "the Netflix of healthcare," BioIQ's charter is to deliver biometric tests for diabetes, cancer and heart disease to employees and dependents, right in the comfort of their homes. BioIQ makes it easy for anybody to order a test kit, take an online health assessment, and obtain a self-explanatory lab report to share with their doctor-all with a few mouse clicks.

BioIQ is working with dozens of employers and several of the largest U.S. health plans to roll out turn-key screening programs that include at-home or on-site testing, online health assessments, personal health records, toll-free access to health coaches, and aggregate reports that identify prevailing risk factors within a population.

BioIQ manages the physical supply chain, the communications necessary to drive engagement and compliance, and all pertinent data analysis, sorting, and integration with health plans. As doctors and politicians grapple with the immense task of health care reform, everybody seems to agree on the importance of prevention and early-detection in the fight against chronic disease, and the need to leverage IT-based systems to manage, integrate and exchange information to make healthcare more effective.

With its popular home test kits and unique Health Integration Platform, BioIQ is at the crest of this rising wave in corporate wellness and consumer-directed health care. Its practical, preventive, IT-driven health solutions motivate people to get smart about their health.

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