Friday, June 13, 2014

Sobering Facts about Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes

The CDC just released its 2014 National Diabetes Statistics Report (PDF), and the results are alarming: 29.1 million Americans have diabetes, and 8.1 million of those are undiagnosed. It really reinforces the need for biometric screenings at the workplace. For many people, it's the only screening they have all year -- and the cost of untreated diabetes can be staggering.

The CDC created two excellent infographics (on diabetes and pre-diabetes) that you should definitely check out. You can view full-size versions them here and here.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Cutting-Edge Data Management Technology

As a biometric screening vendor, WCS is responsible for managing a staggering amount of highly-sensitive data. Our clients and partners rightfully expect the highest degree of accuracy and data security, all within short turnaround times.

Here are just a few of the ways we deliver:
  • Our screeners use tablet devices to transmit data to the WCS database in real time, over a secure connection. That means faster, more accurate data feeds and aggregate reporting. It's also free!
  • Paper forms are processed using Intelligent Character Recognition technology (ICR), then reviewed for accuracy by a data manager. The technology is so accurate, it's scary.
  • Physician forms and off-site vouchers can now be downloaded in electronic format with eligibility information pre-populated. Forms also contain a unique bar code. When participants return these forms to WCS, you can be sure that the data will be matched to the correct participant.
The Health Informatics team has many other new developments in the pipeline, so stay tuned for more updates over the coming months!

A Health Coaching Success Story

In a recent blog post, we listed six fundamental principles that guide our health coaching program. We're especially proud of our health coaches because they are exclusively registered dietitians -- something that sets WCS apart in the world of wellness. Our RDs possess a perfect blend of clinical knowledge and coaching experience, and they are making a difference in people's lives every day.

Let me share a brief example:

A few weeks ago, an employee (I'll call her Melissa) wrote to tell us how profoundly her health coach had helped her. When Melissa began working with her coach almost a year ago, she discovered that her body did not tolerate gluten well. Eliminating gluten from her diet was a challenge, but her coach offered suggestions and additional resources to help. Now that Melissa is officially gluten-free, she reports feeling dramatically better.

In addition to thanking Melissa's health coach, I would also like to thank her employer. Like so many organizations today, they understand that helping someone like Melissa feel better is not just a good deed; it is an investment in their most valuable asset: their employees.

Bringing Wellness to a Diverse Population: Case Study

Last fall, WCS was delighted to begin working with a multinational hospitality company with a workforce of more than 130,000 in 90 countries. They came to WCS with a common dilemma: how to bring wellness to a diverse population.

Fortunately, our program management team has worked with employee groups of all shapes and sizes, from traditional corporate settings to manufacturing and everything in between. We knew we could engage employees with customized programming and a flexible, hands-on approach.

We started by launching a pilot wellness program for 11 hotel locations. More than 7,000 employees were eligible to participate. The pilot program focused on three goals: 
  • Evaluate each location's commitment to wellness
  • Re-energize the existing network of wellness champions
  • Develop exciting wellness initiatives that would engage the population 
First, the WCS program management team developed a custom Wellness Enrichment Survey to be completed by each location. Questions covered a wide range of topics, from the physical environment and opportunities for employees to move at work to the company's tobacco policy. The results of this survey were critical because they allowed us to evaluate each location's current capacity for wellness.

Although the company had an existing network of wellness champions (employees who are committed to the company's wellness program), they needed support. WCS visited site locations and helped champions select "wellness squads": 3-10 employees to recommend programming options and spearhead new wellness initiatives.

The wellness squads felt that competitive wellness challenges would be a hit, so WCS went to work. Given the diverse population, communications were made available in a variety of formats (email blasts, printed posters and flyers on-site, etc.). We developed a unique communication strategy that introduced the wellness program, explained program components, and advertised the challenge far in advance.

Because WCS is its own biometric screening vendor, we enhanced the challenge kick-off event by offering confidential body composition screenings. This was a perfect way to start the challenge because it gave employees much-needed motivation and helped them understand their current health status.

Although the wellness challenge is still ongoing, participation rates have been high. We're extremely hopeful that this pilot program will soon expand to other locations, so stay tuned!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Employees Who Smoke Cost $278 Billion a Year

Everyone knows that smoking is outrageously bad for your health. But it's also bad for employers, according to a recent survey by Gallup:

  • Smokers miss 2.5 more workdays than their non-smoking counterparts, at a cost of approximately $341 per workday missed.
  • Smoke breaks cost the equivalent of nine missed workdays annually.
  • Healthcare for smokers costs approximately $2,056 more than for non-smokers.

Gallup controlled for a number of factors that can correlate with poor health -- age, gender, income, region of the country, and more. So we can be reasonably certain that smoking is the culprit.

The Affordable Care Act allows employers to adjust health insurance premiums by as much as 50% for smokers. Some employers are even refusing to hire smokers altogether. I think the best approach is somewhere in between.

Kicking the habit isn't easy, but as an employer, you can help. We recommend offering a variety of smoking cessation options, a robust incentive -- and an attitude of support.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

3 Ways to Simplify Biometric Screenings

Since today's theme is simplification, I'll get straight to the point: three ways to simplify biometric screenings:

Stick with fingerstick screenings. This is your best option for two reasons. First, it's less invasive than a full blood draw, requiring only a few drops of blood. (Your needle-phobic employees will thank you.) Second, participants receive their results within minutes, allowing for crucial on-site health education.

Advertise off-site screening options. Your screening vendor should help you plan for employees who can't attend the on-site screening. It's important for everyone to know their numbers, even if they work remotely.

Use the latest technology. Ask your screening vendor how data is collected at screening events. Our screeners use tablet devices to transmit data in real time -- it's faster, more accurate, and more secure. If your vendor is still using pencil and paper, ask a few tough questions. How do they ensure accuracy? How quickly can they upload data to a third party?

If you have questions or need more information, just let us know!