Lately, I've had many discussions regarding a main component of wellness programs, and that's biometric screenings and their trends in the industry, common practices, differences in service and pricing. As a past Regional Lead Biometric Examiner for many large national vendors, I thought I'd take the opportunity to share some "insider information" that every employer should know as we approach the busy “screening season” of August - October.
Health screenings are offered by many vendors, large and small, and they all offer mostly the same services with some slight variations to set themselves apart. Some vendors offer venipuncture (needle in the vein) vs. capillary puncture (finger-poke), manual vs. automatic blood pressures, privacy barriers, branded collateral, and even custom Health Risk Assessments. There are also some things that do not set these vendors apart, which I'll share over this three part series.
Part 1. Screeners Are Shared Contractors (not employees) Among Most Vendors
What you may not know is that most all of these biometric vendors use the same Independent Contractors in any given region, some of these contractors are hired sight unseen for these events without a formal interview or even an evaluation of their skills. As a former Area Lead Examiner, I’ve witnessed many of these contract examiners show up to a screening event with little to no knowledge of how to draw blood, take a blood pressure, or even accurately explain the difference between a participants LDL and HDL cholesterol results.
I actually have some fairly funny, yet alarming stories, such as examiners showing up to my events without shoes, without dentures and another instance where an examiner brought their boyfriend to wait in the client’s lobby. Let's not forget the multiple times examiners have arrived smelling of booze, cigarettes and in need of sleep.
Needless to say, in each case I had to send these people home and continue the events short staffed. Embarrassingly, these issues are common, which can be very damaging to the perception of employees towards the wellness program and can also drive down future engagement.
It’s very important to know that your screening vendor takes pride in making sure the people they hire or contract to perform medical testing on your employees are competent, reliable, and engaging. If you're an employer or insurance consultant/broker currently looking for biometric screening vendors, I would encourage you to a bit of research on the vendors you're considering. You do not want to risk the future of your biometric screening event participation and data collection because of a mishap or negative experience of some kind. (If you're switching vendors, you'll also need to know about "lab variance," so check out our post on that.)
Here are a few questions to ask your biometric screening vendor:
Do you use contractors or W-2 employees?
What are your minimum requirements of a screener?
How do you vet the skills of your examiners? (ie: telephone vs. in-person interview)
How do you gauge or monitor the performance of your examiners?
What types of certifications or academic degrees do they hold?
Lastly, even if your screening vendor is pre-selected through your health plan, you should still evaluate the quality of their service before they come on-site, especially if your screenings are free or largely discounted via a “wellness credit," because at the end of the day, you really do get what you pay for.
If you have any questions or need recommendations on your upcoming screening event, please feel free to reach out to me directly or check out our screening services online and watch for Part 2 of this series on "The Hidden Costs of Biometric Screenings."