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The Top 20 Easiest Ways to Change Employee Health Behavior (Part 1)

Updated: Mar 29

This is the first in a three-part series

Quizzify changes behavior through knowledge, not willpower. The actual changes below are quite easy and often pleasant, once you know what to do. Study after study after study shows willpower-driven behavior change rarely sticks, so why not try knowledge-based behavior change, starting with the items below?


1. Replace nonfat yogurt with full-fat yogurt

Dairy fat may or may not be a good thing. More recent evidence suggests it is, for most people. But here’s what’s definitely a bad thing: nonfat yogurt. Not all brands, but if you recognize the brand name from your childhood, and/or it is fruit-flavored, it contains sugar, usually in mind-blowing quantities. For example, this 6-ounce container has much more than half your total daily recommendation. Yoplait's got company. Here is our list of the 8 Most Overrated Foods.


And make sure that your vendor’s health risk assessment no longer gives advice like the one below, so employees don’t get confused by misinformation.

Especially yogurt, but "low-fat or fat-free" anything is questionable these days, as fats are enjoying a renaissance among nutrition experts. This is not to say that these experts are right or wrong and that all fats are equivalent, but rather that all nutrition and other information provided by wellness vendors must be beyond reproach, rather than controversial at best.

 

2. Treat cavities with SDF instead of “drill-and-fill”


We get more than 120,000,000 cavities annually...and >90,000,000 of them are still addressed with the obsolete but very profitable Novocain-and-drill technique. For almost a decade, most dentists have balked at using the painless, fast-acting, FDA-approved Silver Diamine Fluoride instead, because they can only charge $40 or so. All dentists have it in the back room, but very few are like these dentists, who advertise it. That's why you must teach employees to ask for it. They won’t need much convincing, as our testimonials show.


Speaking of savings, Quizzify has a plan where you can pay for our entire program just on reduced drill-and-fill and root canals. Ask us about it.

 

3. Stop demanding antibiotics



Teaching employees that antibiotics don’t work on viruses and are no longer recommended for their kids’ earaches (unless they don't clear up on their own, which most do) will save them risk and money by not insisting on them.

 

4. Get checkups at clinically appropriate intervals


You should have a relationship with a primary care physician (PCP)!


This does not conflict with what you are about to read. Quite the opposite, a good relationship facilitiates scheduling of checkups at clinically appropriate intervals, intervals which will vary according to the age and health of the patient.


Not too long ago, questions recommending clinically appropriate checkup intervals were among our least popular. Often employer administrators would use the "remove/replace" function to make sure they didn't appear in the official quiz. And the correct answer (getting checkups at age- and health status-appropriate intervals instead of annually) was so unpopular that the "Learn More" explanation included this visual, with the caption: "Don't shoot the messenger."


Oh, how times have changed! Now, having read the conclusive research, many employers are finally relaxing the “one size fits all” annual checkup requirement. The EEOC also now frowns upon putting money at stake for employees to get clinical exams, as we've been cautioning since January 2021.


You know who else is against the annual physical? Most large medical practices. They call it the "periodic physical" now. For some people, the period is annual. For others, it could be five years, with most of us in between. Mary markets are also suffering a shortage of PCPs, so they should be focused on patients who need their services.


Besides exacerbating the PCP shortage, what's wrong with too many checkups, according to the research? The downside of too many checkups isn't the wasted expense or time away from work. Those aren't even measured by the research. The downside of checkups is, as the Journal of the American Medical Association put it, they:



For those employers that still “require” the annual checkups, we propose that the form used to document the checkup include the year proposed for the next checkup. After all, who knows better when a patient should get their next checkup than the patient’s doctor?


For some employees it will indeed be 2025. But for many, it will be a year(s) later. The latter group should get their incentives or points next year without having to get another superfluous checkup.


They will, of course, need to disclose the personal information that they shouldn't get a checkup in order to collect those incentives. "HIPAA" and "fun" are rarely found in the same sentence, but bragging about good health would be a fun HIPAA right to waive.


And, as with the cavities, scheduling checkups at clinically appropriate intervals can be guaranteed to pay for all of Quizzify.

 

5. Incline your bed


Got nighttime heartburn? Statistically, likely >25% of your workforce does too, at least occasionally. Yet heartburn is the single most easily preventable medical condition. A shocking percentage of it will go away if you incline your bed, as shown in this illustration.

Also, if you go back to the yogurt question, many full-fat yogurts (and kefirs) have active cultures. A couple of weeks of daily active-culture yogurt should also address frequent heartburn.


A set of largely underappreciated heartburn tips can be found here and here. Along with two blog postings for you, we have two full question sets for employees on the topic as well.

 

6. Swap out your heartburn meds


Formerly available only by prescription, Prilosec, Prevacid and Nexium may be the most hazardous drugs available over the counter. While considered safe if taken as directed, shockingly few people take them as directed.


“As directed” means following the directions on labels that no one ever reads. The labels say to discontinue use after two to eight weeks. The problem is that people get relief within a day or two, and don’t feel any side effects, and they assume the drug is safe because it's over-the-counter. So they keep renewing. And who can even read these labels? Nexium has seriously "buried the lead" here.

Way towards the bottom, it says: "You may repeat a 14-day course every four months." But why "repeat" or even use these powerful meds in the first place? As our article on this topic observes, there are many, many lower-risk, lower-cost solutions for heartburn.


 

7. Stuff that colonoscopy

As a recent blog post described, colonoscopy screening is soooo 2019. An annual painless, non-invasive fecal immunochemical test is both less expensive and more effective at identifying early disease, with no chance of complications. Plus, no prep fluid needed! (In the immortal words of the great philosopher Dave Barry: “I don’t know what’s in that stuff, but it should never be allowed to fall into the hands of America’s enemies.”)


Misunderstood economics is one reason employees jump into a colonoscopy without trying the non-invasive alternatives first. Your employees may not know that you cover follow-up colonoscopies at 100%. Or do you? If not, you should...and then use Quizzify to spread the word. See our popular series on colon screening.


For the most in-depth look at the clinical and economic issues in colon screening, watch our YouTube recording of our "What's the Bottom Line on Colon Screening?" webinar.


Stay tuned for more installments...or why wait? Hit the blue button now.




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