It’s really no surprise that worksite health programs have grown exponentially in recent years as employers have a vested interest in making a positive impact on employees’ health. Approximately half of U.S. employers offer wellness promotion initiatives.

Used to assess and evaluate changes in employee health, biometric health screenings are a crucial component of a comprehensive worksite health program. As a result, biometric health screenings are increasing in popularity and are being implemented by more and more employers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention define a biometric screening as the measurement of physical characteristics — such as height, weight, body mass index, blood pressure, cholesterol levels and blood glucose — that is utilized as part of a workplace health assessment to benchmark and evaluate employee health status.

Biometric health screenings benefit both employers and their respective workers. Research shows that biometric health screenings can reduce overall healthcare costs by identifying risk factors and at-risk employees that need added health coaching services. In addition, these assessments provide employers with key information to help shape the direction of their corporate wellness initiatives. For employees, biometric health screenings can provide valuable insight on current and potential medical issues, their risk for chronic preventable diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and hypertension, and can identify strategies for improved health and well-being.

In my co-authored article recently published in the October 2013 issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, I collaborated with leading health organizations ACOEM, Care Continuum Alliance and the Health Enhancement Research Organization on the use of biometric health screenings as an effective tool for early detection and intervention of preventable diseases, as well as an opportunity for greater health awareness and health education.

The article, a joint consensus statement entitled “Biometric Health Screening for Employers,” focuses on four key areas: goals and key success factors; methods and oversight; operations and delivery; and engagement and evaluation. When integrated into a well-designed health management program, biometric health screenings can play a key role within the context of primordial, primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention efforts.

In conclusion, biometric screenings provide useful insight and information to help employers develop and implement successful employee health and wellness initiatives. By implementing biometric screenings as part of an employee health management program, employers can reduce health risks, improve health status, reduce healthcare costs, and improve the productivity and performance of their workforce.

Marissa Hudson, the executive vice president of Public/Private Partnerships for Viridian Health Management, also serves as a consultant to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity on toolkit and program development and is a committee chair for the Health Enhancement Research Organization Think Tank.

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