I recently took part in a health screening at work. This is the first time I think I’ve had the option of something like this in the office. My company changed health insurance provider at the beginning of the year and a health screening for each employee was provided as part of the new package offered by Aviva Health.
My first surprise was how few of my colleagues actually took up the option of completing the screening. Ok, so it meant travelling to a different office location however we were notified well in advance so I made sure to plan my day around the screening.
The screening itself took less than ten minutes. The checks were completed by a nurse from Precision Healthcare and supervised by an Aviva representative. The following tests were completed as part of the screening:
High blood pressure (more than 140/90) is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. It usually does not have one specific cause, but can be made worse by excess weight, stress, excess salt and lack of exercise. Fortunately, addressing these risk factors can reduce your blood pressure back to normal.
A glucose test indicates whether you may have diabetes or not. If you have diabetes, you are at much higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease, visual problems and kidney disease. Reducing excess weight may help reverse the onset of diabetes.
- Body Mass Index
BMI is a measure of how proportionate your height is to your weight. In most cases, having a high BMI means that you are carrying excess fat. This predisposes you to cardiovascular disease, diabetes and osteoarthritis.
The results of the screening were then emailed to me in a PDF document a few weeks later. I can now provide this document to my GP to keep on my record if I wish.
The good news for me is no issues were called out with any of the tests so there’s no need for me to run to the doctor just yet. However, a screening like this may act as a wakeup call to those that didn’t fare as well in the tests and hopefully it will make them do something about it.
Room for Improvement?
I really like the idea of a companywide health screening and it is great progress from last year when we had nothing of the kind. I do however see huge room for improvement in the corporate wellness area. Here’s a few of my ideas:
Health screenings like this should be mandatory for all employees, just like some training courses or meeting attendance. For employers, discovering the unrecognised illnesses in employees can lead to reduced absenteeism, increased productivity and a happier workforce. For employees of course the main benefit is early diagnosis and access to advice on how to change your lifestyle in order to get your health back on track.
The tests above are a good start but I recommend a more thorough health check be completed every year for each employee. The following tests could be added to provide a more detailed overall wellness health picture:
- Resting electrocardiogram (ECG)
- Lung function test
- Kidney/liver function tests
- Lipids/cardiac risk tests
- Full blood count
- Bone health profile
What other tests could or should be added to ensure this is a full health screening?
A mandatory health screening is a great first step in promoting health and wellbeing at the workplace. Corporate wellness however has evolved to become a lot more than just these annual screenings. An entire corporate wellness package of initiatives is where I see the future of workplace health promotion, as more and more companies discover the benefits of reducing their long term healthcare expenses as they support a healthier and happier workforce.
Initiatives such as on site exercise equipment and classes, talks on different health topics, heart healthy choices in the restaurant as well as trained and available mental health advisers on top of annual health screenings could form the backbone of an entire corporate wellness strategy. There’s plenty of scope for further activities based on employee feedback within each organisation. Forward thinking businesses are embracing this type of strategy in order to promote a healthy workforce as well as making the work space itself a more inviting and relaxing environment for everyone to be.
Do you agree? Are basic health screenings sufficient or do we need more? What is your company doing?
I’d love to hear your thoughts!