Employee health

Prevention is better than cure: the business case for workplace health screenings

Routine medical screens are an essential part of maintaining optimal health year after year rather than, as many people do, only heading to the local GP after a problem arises.

Whilst the NHS can offer a basic health MOT which should be offered to those aged 40-74 every five years, many people are not receiving invites from often overworked and understaffed GP practices. For those fortunate enough to receive an invitation many do not take up the opportunity, either due to being time poor, unaware of the benefits, unable to easily contact their GP to make the appointment or simply worried about what the results might be.

This lack of regular screening is impacting the nation’s health and increasing the strain on the NHS, as conditions like high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer need to be detected and treated as early as possible for the best outcomes.

Into this gap, we are increasingly seeing employers play a vital role in encouraging workers to proactively care for their health and well-being.

Onsite health checks are a valuable tool to ensure workers can access preventive health care and identify chronic and acute conditions at an early stage, so they remain in the best health to perform their job.

We are seeing three main drivers of demand from employers for offering routine employee health screenings.

Firstly, routine screenings help keep employees at their healthiest.

This is because providing health screenings for employees shifts healthcare from being reactive to proactive, improving health outcomes and reducing long term costs on employer funded health services.

There are a variety of screenings employers can offer to employees in the workplace, including but not limited to key indicators of cardiovascular risk such as body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol checks. There are even measures to screen for some cancers in the workplace.

The employee’s results for most tests are provided within minutes with appropriate signposting on next steps for further testing or treatment from primary physicians.

Secondly, businesses can demonstrate they care for their employees and are stepping up to support their health and wealth in uncertain times.

This is important because employees in this post-pandemic era expect employers to care about their health, and some are even leaving their jobs if they feel like employers aren’t prioritising their health and wellness.

Providing health and wellness screenings at the workplace makes employees feel valued and cared for and ultimately leads to higher retention rates. For some employees, it could be the push they need to get tested for a condition that runs in their family like heart disease or cancer.

Enabling employees to be screened at work means they do not need to take time off and employers can effectively promote any other workplace health initiatives. This convenience of completing preventive screenings without leaving the office is a great motivator for employees to take the time to address health concerns.

Moreover, by catching chronic conditions early on, employees can make lifestyle adjustments like exercising more frequently or changing their diet to improve their health. When employees are at their healthiest, they are more productive at work and spend less time away from the job while, ultimately, by catching these health issues, preventive screenings are proven to save lives.

Thirdly and finally, there is a business case for employers to ramp up health screenings as it can help reduce costs which will benefit a company’s bottom line because we are now seeing the detrimental impacts of late diagnosed conditions.

This principally stems from insurance premiums for healthcare and group risk benefits rising as a result of the increase in the frequency and cost of claims for treatment and, worse still, the increase in morbidity rates among the working population.

The frequency or severity of such claims can be reduced if employees are regularly screened and risk factors for severe illnesses like heart disease and cancer are detected early enough for effective action to be taken, and the uptake of screening is generally high when provided in the workplace, as its convenient for employees to attend without taking time off work.

There is an additional benefit for employers in that health screening programmes can also allow provide data that allows employers to identify and address health issues across the company.

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