What’s the best drug that nobody wants to take?
Hint: It’s not found in a bottle at the pharmacy.
If you weren’t able to attend last week’s webinar with our Co-Founder, Danna Van Noy (Korn), and Medical Director, Scott Yoder, M.D., don’t worry – we’ve got you covered!
The 45-minute discussion offered a variety of best practices for getting the most value out of biometric screenings and employee wellbeing as a whole. We’d recommend listening to the full webinar recording, but here are 10 key takeaways to consider if you only have time for the condensed version:
- There can be an ‘ROI’ attached to biometric screenings. Reduced risk of illness and other health issues can ultimately lead to reduced spend for employers. When people get sick, it impacts company costs and productivity because employees are out of work and taking time away from their jobs. So ultimately, there is an ROI attached to a healthy lifestyle, which can be targeted and addressed through things like biometric numbers.
- Getting screened every 6-12 months is reasonable for lifestyle management. Those numbers can be based on lab results, blood pressure, weight, waist circumference, and more. There are a lot of things that doctors look at to determine positive change. Lab tests, for example, can be checked every three months to a year, depending on what they measure.
- Blood pressure is the most important to check regularly. Cholesterol and A1C tests are right behind blood pressure, since diabetes, hypertension, and heart issues all contribute to the top-10 causes of death in the U.S. In terms of basic lifestyle management, BMI, waist circumference, and weight are also important. Getting the standard metabolic panel, lipid panel, and A1C is often the more affordable way to get important tests done.
- Incentivize people for improving their results, not just for getting screened. We want our members to make a meaningful change with their numbers. That’s where the value is and where the positive effects come from.
- Results are phenomenal when you build community. It only takes a few motivated people to inspire others to practice healthy habits, especially when they see what they need to do. Smoking cessation is a great example. People who quit together often stay quit for longer periods of time. Exercise works better in groups, as well. If we’re going to use biometric screenings as a guide, making lifestyle improvements as a group can be a great way to do it.
- A healthy lifestyle is best drug that nobody wants to take. It’s cheap, it’s effective, and it keeps people out of the hospital and healthy. One study found an 85% risk reduction in stroke and heart attack if nurses simply exercised and ate right, but only 3% were actually doing that. These biometrics can essentially “trick” people into living a better lifestyle. The best medication we can recommend is regular exercise, having a well-balanced diet, getting adequate sleep, and lowering stress levels – and 60-70% of people who latch onto that (and stick with it) will see improvements in things like blood pressure, lipids, and A1C.
- Healthy people should get screened, too. A single screening in most healthy individuals over the age of 30-35 is preferred. Coronary disease, heart disease, and diabetes are some of the top killers, so screenings can catch risk early and lower it in the long-term.
- Negative reinforcement does not work. When people get that bad news, it’s a short leash and minimal amount of time to motivate behavior change – they feel discouraged already without seeing any change in numbers. It’s rare to see positive long-term change with negative reinforcement.
- Companies can provide a community, but it’s on the individual to make the changes. Employees have to buy into any incentives their company provides, but a sense of community and inclusion is what drives them to practicing healthier habits. Biometric screenings can act as a secondary focus and incentive for the individual, too. Competition is also good – if two unhealthy people are competitive, that can drive them into healthy change.
- The most hated biometric numbers are weight and BMI. Being overweight is not a disease – it’s a consequence of an unhealthy lifestyle. If you fix the unhealthy lifestyle, not only do you reduce risk, but your weight also goes down as a result. If you’re overweight because you have too much fat on your body, that’s more of a long-term change. So always checking the scale reinforces a sense of failure for many, not a sense of motivation. This is why body image has grown to be more important than the weight itself. Plus, a healthy weight doesn’t mean you’re healthy, either. People worry more about how they look in the mirror or when they get out of the shower; this has little to do with our actual weight.
If you’re curious to hear more about any of these 10 takeaways, you can request a recording of the webinar here. Danna and Dr. Yoder also discuss the HAES model (healthy at every size), keto and other fad diets, as well as expand on other biometric-related topics.
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