Product Spotlight: Biometric Screenings

By Rich Prall, Vice President, Product Specialist

Many chronic diseases are preventable. They are also more treatable and less costly when detected early. It’s necessary to uncover potential health risks in order to improve health and reduce costs.

Health Advocate’s Biometric Screening Program is an important first step toward improving the health of your employees and reducing healthcare costs for your organization. Our biometric screenings provide employees with a snapshot of their risk for chronic diseases so they can avoid health problems in the future.

Through first-class biometric screenings, administered by our trained staff of registered nurses, EMTs, paramedics and health educators, you can empower your employees to take control of their health. We serve organizations of any size, nationwide, offering a broad selection of completely turnkey, customizable screenings that can be seamlessly integrated with our other solutions. We have positively impacted thousands of lives, helping employees and members gain valuable insight into their health and motivating them to take action.

We offer a variety of features customized to your needs:

  • Standard fingerstick health screenings including blood pressure, blood glucose, and cholesterol
  • Body composition measurements such as body fat percentage, BMI, height/weight, and waist circumference
  • Immediate results and face-to-face consultation to highlight teachable moments
  • Convenient online scheduler
  • Project management and onsite coordination
  • Comprehensive aggregate reporting
  • Seamless integration of results into existing wellness and incentive programs
  • Communications to promote the events
  • Tip sheets and educational materials
  • Upload of data directly into the Health Advocate Health Risk Assessment and member website, or third-party vendors for an additional fee

Our Biometric Screening Program helps employees “know their numbers” and understand their risk for chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and hypertension. Armed with this knowledge your employees can take action to improve their health, and ultimately reduce your healthcare costs.

Biometric screenings are the first step toward a healthier employee population. We’re proud to have facilitated thousands of screening events in 2017, which have a real impact upon the lives of your employees—and your bottom line.

We’ve been busy! In 2017:

  • Total number of flu shots: 73,574
  • Total number of individual screenings: 130,702
  • Total number of screening events: 4,953

What our clients are saying:

“The Health Advocate screening team has been fabulous, full of energy, and made this a positive experience for the employees. We even had employees that went both days of the screening event to ask additional health questions or have their blood sugar levels checked again. We look forward to having them back next year!”

To learn more about Biometric Screenings, contact us using the form below.

By Jocelyn Sivalingam, MD, FACP, Medical Director

Immunizations are a topic that many think are limited to the preventive care of children; however, adults also benefit from this mainstay of high-value care. We know that on the whole, adults have much lower rates of receipt of vaccines 1, 2 as compared to children, so opportunities for prevention of common but costly illnesses are too often missed.

It’s estimated that only 20-62% of the adult population is up to date on one or more of their needed vaccinations. In fact, only 41.7% of adults on average get a yearly flu shot. 2 In contrast, the estimated costs related to influenza alone are estimated at 2 to 5 billion dollars.3 Multiple studies have shown that in most cases, adult vaccination is cost-effective. 4, 5

Adult vaccination is a continuing challenge due to barriers such as: 6, 7, 8, 9

Patient-specific barriers:

  • Lack of knowledge; perception that they do not need vaccination
  • Lack of a physician recommendation
  • Un- or under-insured status
  • Irregular, fragmented, or infrequent healthcare contact

Healthcare system barriers:

  • Incomplete, uncoordinated records
  • Absence of effective reminder systems
  • Expense—vaccines are expensive and may add cost to the visit/system

Provider-related barriers:

  • Lack of training
  • Poor reimbursement
  • Very high up-front vaccine cost; long stock period and wastage due to expiration or temperature control issues
  • Implementation barriers: Special refrigerator, thermometer, temp logs, storage requirements and monitoring are required; training for staff is needed.
  • Clinical reasons for a visit may take time/precedence
  • Lack of incentive or practice standard to promote vaccination (common among specialists)

How are these barriers being overcome?

Informational and motivational campaigns in healthcare systems, employers, and the public sector promote vaccine knowledge and awareness. Accurate information is more widely available and promoted; the CDC and medical organizations have more public information campaigns around adult vaccination.  Medical specialties are addressing vaccination, encouraging vaccination and disseminating specific information to providers.

Across the healthcare landscape, system changes are evolving to better track adult vaccination and proactively communicate vaccine care gaps. Improvements in records and interoperability between electronic health record systems are also improving as providers, healthcare systems and employers realize that vaccination is not only a quality of care issue, but a healthcare outcomes/ cost-saving issue as well.

Recommended vaccines are covered at 100% under ACA-compliant plans and Medicare. Electronic health records remind providers and may send patient-facing vaccine messaging via multiple channels.8 ACOs, practices, and other health organizations track and show vaccination rates (e.g. flu, pneumonia) for quality reporting. 10, 11

Easy-to-access vaccinations are becoming more available and in new venues: employee health fairs and clinics, pharmacies and walk-in clinics.

While the challenges remain, the future for better adult vaccination rates and improved disease prevention is promising.

 

Read next story: Product Spotlight: Biometric Screenings

 

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/ss/ss6501a1.htmSurveillance of Vaccination Coverage Among Adult Populations — United States, 2014 Surveillance Summaries / February 5, 2016 / 65(1);1–36
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/fluvaxview/coverage-1516estimates.htm flu vaccine coverage
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28700268 costs of influenza in the US
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24609063 cost effectiveness of influenza vaccination
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24718851 cost effectiveness of pneumococcal vaccination
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18589065
  7. https://www.izsummitpartners.org/content/uploads/2012/NAIS/NAIS-4_hurley_barriers.pdf
  8. http://www.adultvaccinesnow.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/avac_financial_barriers_FINAL_.pdf
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3235599/
  10. http://www.ncqa.org/hedis-quality-measurement/hedis-measures
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5812620/ Increasing influenza vaccination rates via low cost messaging interventions

The Value of Workplace Screenings

By Rich Prall, Vice President, Product Specialist

Workplace health screenings are a critical component of corporate wellness initiatives. By measuring key aspects of health, including blood pressure, weight, cholesterol and glucose, among others, these screenings provide valuable insights into the health of employees and help identify potential risk factors early on, enabling employers to implement more targeted health and wellness initiatives and track progress and improvement over time. Screening programs continue to evolve and adapt to meet the needs of employers and employees and offer valuable benefits, including driving engagement, improving health outcomes and reducing costs.

Drive Engagement in Health

Like overall wellness and well-being initiatives, a one-size-fits-all approach to screenings does not work. Customizing screening programs to meet the needs of each unique organization and their workforce can help improve participation. Tailored programs that account for the health needs of employees, provide convenient locations and times, and offer resources to take the next step, are more effective at engaging employees, which can help increase workplace productivity, improve outcomes and reduce overall costs.

When coupled with on-site health education and coaching, biometric screenings can help influence positive behavior change, improving the health of employees while helping to control rising healthcare costs. A Health Advocate study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine in 2015 found that employees identified as having hypertension during a workplace screening were twice as likely to be diagnosed with hypertension, or fill a prescription for a hypertension medication, in the month following the event. For many employees, screenings are a first step toward better engagement in their health.

Know Your Numbers

Workplace screenings offer insights into the health of the workforce, as well as the leading drivers of health-related costs, providing both organizations and their employees with a starting point toward their goals.

For employers, aggregate data from screenings helps to create a baseline from which to tailor wellness strategies moving forward. By using this information as a foundation, it is possible to measure year-over-year results and improvements. This is an opportunity to see the progress and value of wellness initiatives as well as adjust programming as needed to meet the needs of an evolving workforce. By understanding what is working and what is not, organizations can avoid wasting money on ineffective programs and invest where it will have an impact for their employees and bottom line.

For employees, having an understanding of their health and potential risks enables and motivates them to take action to improve their health. The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine study referenced previously also found that 68 percent of employees whose hypertension was discovered during a workplace biometric screening had no previous record of diagnosis or treatment. These workplace screenings have the potential to identify undiagnosed conditions like hypertension in employees and lead those employees to seek treatment.

By learning more about the current state of their health through workplace screenings and knowing their numbers, employees can be motivated to set goals based on the results and take necessary next steps toward improving their health. These screening programs can have a big impact in helping employees understand their risk and take action, improving outcomes and reducing healthcare costs for both individual employees and organizations.

Workplace screening programs provide convenient, professional health assessments on-site to help identify employees’ risk for some of the most common chronic conditions, but they provide great value well beyond the initial screenings. By identifying issues sooner, employees can take steps to improve their health, leading to reduced costs for themselves and their organization. Screenings are an integral cornerstone for workplace wellness programs and offer value and benefits to both employers and employees.

 

Read next story: Clinical Corner: Challenges of adult immunizations

Episode 13: Chronic Condition Management

Chronic diseases are among the costliest and most prevalent health issues organizations face when it comes to employee health. In this episode of Health Advocate’s Ask the Expert series, we’re joined by Dr. Raffi Terzian, Health Advocate’s Senior Medical Director, to discuss strategies to manage chronic conditions in the workplace.

By Marcia Otto | USA Today Employee Well-being & Engagement Insert

Even if companies provide their employees with good benefit programs, making them difficult to access and fragmented means employees still won’t be engaged.

Organizations continue to focus on helping employees improve their overall well-being, which in turn can positively impact productivity and costs. The key to realizing the value of this focus is an engaged population, yet despite best intentions and large investments, many employers still face low benefits utilization.

Navigating benefit programs

According to a recent Health Advocate survey of HR professionals, the biggest hurdle to engagement is that a multitude of benefit programs is often disjointed, confusing or difficult to access and navigate.In fact, 40 percent indicated that working with multiple benefits vendors led to a lack of utilization, with another 35 percent noting technology issues. To mitigate this issue, a quarter of respondents report moving toward a single integrated platform, making it easier for employees to utilize their benefits.

Creating a balance

Survey participants also signaled the importance of balancing technology with the human touch when it comes to driving engagement. Seventy-eight percent currently offer employees access to live support to help with their health and benefits, with more than 80 percent confirming that having some level of high-touch support increases engagement. Technology plays a role, but employees often prefer speaking with a real person when it comes to navigating complex healthcare issues.Based on the results of the survey, it is recommended that organizations look for benefits partners that can seamlessly integrate programs and offer personal, high-touch support in order to effectively engage employees in their health and well-being.

By Valerie Bolden-Barrett | HRDive

“Maybe you should get a second opinion.” That’s what people often hear after receiving a medical diagnosis for a potentially life-threatening condition. But how many people actually take that advice? A 2010 Gallup Poll found that 70% of Americans had faith in their physician’s diagnosis and didn’t see the need for a second opinion. That percentage is up from 64% in a 2002 Gallup Poll.

Patients’ confidence in their doctors is always a good thing, but the Gallup results raises concern. More than a third of medical diagnoses are misdiagnoses, according to Michael Hough, executive vice president at Advance Medical, a firm specializing in expert medical opinions.

If the high number of misdiagnoses isn’t reason enough for a second opinion, maybe the number of second opinions that change the original diagnoses is. A recent Mayo Clinic study found that 88% of the patients who came to the clinic for a second opinion learned that their diagnosis had been changed or moderately altered. Only 12% of the patients in the study left the clinic with the same diagnosis.

Ellen Kelsey, chief strategy officer for the National Business Group on Health (NBGH) says employers’ top three healthcare concerns are waste in the system, the wrong treatment and inappropriate care, which results in higher costs. Misdiagnoses must be avoided, she says, so employees can get well as quickly as possible.

“Cost savings is certainly a goal, but so is employee engagement,” says Kelsey. She believes employees are empowered and their medical outcomes are more positive when they’re involved in their healthcare.

Hough agrees: “When you control quality, you control costs.” Second opinion services might add cost to the front end of treatment, he says, but the goal is quality care, which saves healthcare costs in the long run.

When is a second opinion necessary?

People normally associate second opinions with catastrophic medical conditions. The Mayo Clinic recommends that patients get a second opinion when they’re:

  • not comfortable with their local medical team, its expertise or the treatment options it offers;
  • diagnosed with an unusual or rare cancer;
  • running out of treatment options;
  • interested in taking part in clinical trials; or
  • taking their local doctor’s advice to see another provider.

When the diagnosis is a rare, dire or life-threatening condition, patients need another set of eyes on the situation, says Arthur Leibowitz, M.D., chief medical officer, founder and president of Health Advocate. However, he says that second opinions aren’t just for the most serious diagnoses.

“Out of 80,000 second opinions we studied, only 346 were for extreme medical conditions,” says Leibowitz, adding that getting a second opinion depends on the patient’s comfort level. In short, patients can seek a second opinion for any kind of health problem.

For catastrophic health conditions, second opinions can catch a problem in its earliest stages before more invasive, costlier treatment becomes necessary. In general, another expert opinion can bring patients peace of mind and some assurance that they received the best and latest course of treatment available for their condition, says Hough.

Who are the second-opinion providers?

The providers are specialists, many of whom are nationally or world renowned for their expertise, says Kelsey.

Some experts are so specialized that they’re recommend to patients for narrowly focused medical conditions. Leibowitz described the work of a provider who specializes in treating ballet dancers and others who treat either right or left leg problems, but not both.

“You want to be where the cutting-edge work is being done,” says Leibowitz, referring to the constant breakthroughs in medical treatment. “[Specialization] is a new way of fixing an old problem. Second opinions are about getting the best possible diagnosis and the latest treatment for it.”

Are people often reluctant to get a second opinion because they don’t want to offend their trusted physician? Yes, says Hough, but he adds that physicians learn from each other and consult one another all the time, so they’re receptive to other opinions.

What second opinion services mean for employers

Second opinion services are becoming mainstream, says Kelsey. NBGH statistics show that 66% of employers now offer them, an increase of 47% over last year. Services can either be part of a health plan or a stand-alone benefit; employers pay a fee for second opinion services, which are offered to all employees and usually cover others on the plan, says Kelsey.

Second opinion services might differ by agency and structure, but, generally, the physicians involved with the patient’s care do a clinical review and refer the patient to a specialist, often via a telephone consultation with the patient. The specialist then requests the patient’s medical history, including blood work, laboratory results, primary care physician records and all other health-related documentation. The consultation and information become the basis for a second diagnosis.

“Healthcare is complicated,” said Kelsey. “The average person can’t navigate the system alone,” she said, adding that employees can have peace of mind knowing they have support from their employer and the benefit of second opinion services. Employers benefit, she says, when a diagnosis is accurate and workers get the quality treatment they need and are back on the job.