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Frequency of Biometric Testing in Wellness Program?

Written by Administrator Friday, 02 February 2018 16:19
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Frequency of Biometric Testing in Wellness Programs?

The purpose of employer-based screening for wellness programs is to identify risk factors for disease rather than diagnosing the presence of a disease. (JOEM,10/2013) Wellness programs frequently conduct biometric screening and blood tests following the US Preventive Task Force recommendations of one time/year for the diagnosis and treatment of related diseases. However, employer-provided health screenings are not appropriate for diagnosing disease. Neither is the purpose of wellness programs diagnosing and treating diseases.

Effective wellness programs = prevention!

The outcomes of a wellness program are prevention: (1) promote healthy behaviors (primary prevention), (2) detect and prevent rising risks for chronic diseases associated with unhealthy behaviors (secondary prevention) and (3) prevent worsening of symptomatic disease arising from unhealthy behaviors (tertiary prevention). (NIH.gov) The target of wellness programs is prevention through behavioral change. Therefore, the frequency of biometric testing needs to be related to the goals of behavioral change for prevention.

One of the prevailing beliefs is if the employee ‘knows his/her numbers’ one time per year, the employee will change behaviors throughout the year. However, the research is clear that sustainable behavioral change does not occur because of what one knows. If knowledge were strongly related to behaviors, there would be no smokers, and the prevalence of type 2 diabetes and prediabetes would be declining rather than increasing.

An additional belief is that if an employee’s numbers are not within the recommended ranges during the one-time testing, coaching over time can be framed based upon single test values; that the test values remain at least relatively stable over time. What we know from our data is that frequent testing is important for (1) feedback to the employee, rewards the employee if risks decline and motivates the employee to sustain changes, and (2) provides real time data for coaching.

We believe that these two premises behind annual or biannual biometric testing for wellness programs are ineffective to help employees engage in new sustainable health related behaviors. Wellness programs can achieve its goals through multiple testing over time.

Because Point of Testing devices have become highly reliable and relatively inexpensive, the RNs of Wise Health Decisions conduct biometric testing each time an employee has an appointment throughout the year. The reasons for frequent biometric testing are: (1) provide the employee and the RN coach real time information about rising risks for chronic diseases, (2) provide real time data for the employee to understand the relationship between the effects of employee changing or not changing health-related behaviors and their rising or declining risks, and (3) provide the RN coach real-time data to frame coaching to help an employee change or sustain health-related behaviors.

Frequent biometric measures can act as early warning signals that prevention interventions are appropriate, and that medical evaluation may be indicated. Biometric testing more than one time per year is a foundational aspect of a successful wellness program to prevent rising risks and risks of worsening of existing chronic diseases associated with employees’ health-related behaviors.

Author: Nancy Dayhoff,, EdD, RN, Managing Partner, Clinical Solutions, LLC

01/31/2018

Last Updated on Friday, 02 February 2018 17:06
 

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