Google “What is a biometric screening?” and you’ll get any number of articles that describe biometric screenings as “a measurement of physical attributes such as height, weight, blood pressure and more – that can be taken at a worksite and used as part of a workforce wellness program.” You’ll see test menus and descriptions on how screenings help the individual and the company. We believe these descriptions sell biometric screenings short.

In the big picture, biometric screenings are a means to an end. If you think that “end” is “healthier employees” and / or “lower healthcare claims,” it’s more complicated than that.

Rearrange “What are biometric screenings?” into “Biometric Screenings are what?” and play fill in the blank. When you do, we think you’ll arrive at least 4 answer categories. We believe biometric screenings are:

1) A convenient access point to healthcare
2) A gateway experience to wellness engagement
3) A potentially FREE data source
4) A means to a complicated end

Convenient Access Point to Healthcare

In a time when getting an appointment with a doctor is a hassle, when getting immediate access to an MD through urgent care centers is expensive, biometric screenings at the workplace are an important way employers create convenient access to healthcare for their employees. Granted, biometric screenings stop short of diagnosis. They are meant to highlight real and potential issues, not cure them. But we all know that understanding your health status is the first step and can be very effective at creating the sense of urgency needed to get people to go through the hassle of scheduling an appointment with their doctor.

Gateway Experience to Wellness Engagement

For most of the population, biometric screenings are not going lead to an emergency referral. Instead, the screening is going to highlight a concern that is becoming more serious over time. What these employees need is to be educated and led toward a preventative solution – insert wellness programs or lifestyle management. The million-dollar question is “How do we get employees to engage?” Let’s face it, you wouldn’t spend money to take a pill that is going to prevent minor headaches from occurring. But you will spend money on ibuprofen as soon as you feel a headache coming on.

Biometric screenings are to the wellness program, what the offensive line is in football. Rarely is the offensive line going to be the star of the show; but if the offensive line makes a mistake, they become famous for the wrong reasons. For employees who are looking for an excuse not to engage, a poor biometric screening experience is all they need to give up on your wellness offering. At a minimum, the screening process must not make them wait unnecessarily, it must be friendly, and it must give them useful information.

Biometric screenings must also lead the employees to the next step in the wellness program. People think that “teachable moment counseling” is important because we might reach a person with an important point about their health while health is top of mind. But, the benefit of exit counseling for the broader population is presenting the options available and encouraging and leading employees to engage. Biometric screenings can close the “gateway to wellness” or they can hold the door open and lead people through by the hand.

Potentially FREE Data Source

What? Did the CEO of a biometric screening company say that biometric screenings should be free?

Yep. That’ what I said. Why are you surprised? You’re not surprised when a health insurance plan tells you your screenings are “free.” But you know they are making money off their entire offering, and you know the screenings cost them something to provide; you know in the end, the biometric screenings are not free.

In our case, it’s not about us making money somewhere else – this is basically all we do. My point here is that structured properly, with outcomes based incentive management, biometric screenings more than pay for themselves in the short-term. Mind you, this is not the pay for screenings and hope claims go lower over time strategy. Structured properly, outcomes based incentive management will save the company more in insurance premiums in YEAR 1, than the biometric screenings cost in total for that year. That is short term, bottom line impact. Because biometric screenings are the driver of outcomes based incentives, you could argue that the screenings are better than free. We have helped numerous clients realize this benefit; sure, the clients need to build their wellness culture toward outcomes based incentive management first, but the payoff is more immediate and more definite than waiting for claims to catch up. Approached this way, biometric screenings offer the best ROI in corporate wellness.

Means to an End
Biometric screenings are a means to an end, but the “end” is more complicated than “healthier employees” or “lower healthcare claims.” Combining all of the points above, biometric screenings are a means to:

• Lower short-term healthcare claims costs due to employees seeking immediate care for conditions identified at the screening
• Lower short-term, benefits spend when combined with outcomes based incentive management
• Increased wellness engagement resulting in healthier employees
• Lower, long-term healthcare claims as the employee population becomes healthier

Adjust your sights from just the long-term benefits you hear about. It’s the combination of short and long-term benefits that make biometric screenings a beautiful “means to an end.”

“Biometric Screenings are ____What____?

We’ve provided our answers. How would you answer this question? Be nice.