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Wellness & Benefits News Roundup: Are Employees Getting Too Many Screens?

Normally we wait until we have three articles to “round up” but this one is compelling enough to round up on its own.

Are Employees Getting Too Many Screens?

In a very balanced article, Consumer Reports summarized the debate about which screens to do and which to avoid. The bottom line is that Americans are both over-screened and under-screened. For instance, the US Preventive Services Task Force publishes guidelines that call for blood pressure to be checked frequently. At the other extreme, certain screens shouldn’t be done at all due to the risk of false positives. For example, ovarian cancer has a strong genetic component, so women with a family history should be checked frequently, whereas others shouldn’t be checked at all. Testing positive for ovarian cancer – or prostate cancer, to use another example – can trigger a whole series of hazardous tests and procedures for no good reason. Hence only a subset of people should get these screens, in consultation with their doctor.

Further, many screens should be done in an age-appropriate manner. The example in the article is bone density testing for women. Younger women shouldn’t get it (due to the possibility of getting put on risky medication that can only be taken for 2 years and may not work anyway) while older women should. And yet many younger women have been screened while many older women haven’t, a classic case of both over-screening and under-screening.

Rarely in healthcare does “one size fit all,” and other screens should be determined either by age or by the presence of other risk factors. Examples would be the frequency of cholesterol or glucose testing. To use a “one size doesn’t fit all” example from dentistry, we’ve shown, for instance, that some people need to get their teeth professionally cleaned only once a year, while many others – the ones that pose the greatest risk to their own dental health and to your total health spending budget – should visit the dentist 3-4 times a year.

While experts recommend age-appropriate and risk factor-appropriate screening, wellness vendors will often try to convince you to screen every employee every year, in order to maximize their own revenue. Some vendors advocate screening for up to 40 blood values. One vendor in particular recommends extensive screens on younger employees. This approach is the opposite of what accepted clinical guidelines and Quizzify recommend. This overscreening leads to expensive and hazardous overtreatment.


30-second shameless plug: As the below flyer suggests, a solution is to offer employees both health literacy education and screens – and guide them towards the choice which is most appropriate for them based on their own situation. Offering this choice will also avoid EEOC liability issues starting in January.

With the exception of vendors that overscreen employees or harm them, Quizzify is always able to work with you and your wellness vendor to promote your screening.


Missed the previous roundup? Here it is.

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