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Why directing your employees to visit a physician isn't enough

In this landscape of rising healthcare costs, benefits leaders may be tempted to cut spending by eliminating employer-sponsored screenings from their benefits offerings. Benefits leaders recognize that employees need to prioritize their health, and often the proposed solution for addressing their population’s health needs is to encourage employees to visit their primary care physician.

Yet this strategy, while it seems simple, may not effectively meet the needs of your population, and what’s more, it could actually be costing your employees—and you—more.

Maximize in-office physician visits

Directing employees to visit their primary care doctor for annual health evaluations often requires multiple in-office visits. It often takes several weeks (or longer) to get an appointment, and after that the physician may order bloodwork, which requires an additional appointment, and more time away from work.

If the bloodwork shows any health risks or elevated results, the employee may need to return to their physician’s office for an additional appointment, resulting in even more time away from work, as well as additional copays or doctor’s fees. Employees and employers alike are often discouraged by this lengthy, time-consuming process, and as a result too many individuals avoid annual doctor visits entirely. 

Yet by offering a lab-based biometric screening program to your employees, you can help them make the most of their time at their physician’s office away from work. Employees can complete their screening at an on-site event, a Quest Diagnostics Patient Service Center, or even at home with self-collection materials. After they receive their results, they can schedule an appointment with their primary care physician to discuss their results, risk factors, and health needs.

The path of an employer-sponsored screening means 1 in-office visit, 1 copay or fee, and much less time away from work. In this process the employee is still encouraged to engage with a physician, but they’re doing it in a way that makes the most of their time and money.

Do your employees have access to a physician?

A recent study shows that nearly 25% of US adults do not have a primary care physician.1 Additionally, where employees live can make a significant difference in whether there are adequate healthcare options nearby. Some areas may have a shortage of healthcare professionals, or in some rural areas the nearest healthcare provider may be several miles away.

The SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic also challenged the existing healthcare delivery system. Fewer people visited the doctor during the pandemic for routine care and getting back into a provider’s office may still pose a challenge.1 By offering lab-based biometric screenings, you can help address gaps in care for employees who don’t have a physician or who can’t easily access healthcare locally.

Employer-sponsored screenings can lower healthcare spend

Employees who participate in employer-sponsored screenings often cost an organization less in healthcare spend. Those who do not participate in health screenings are 33% more likely to go to the emergency room and 50% more likely to have an inpatient claim.3 Additionally, these individuals typically spend at least 30% more on healthcare costs.3

Offering a lab-based screening program can also provide more opportunities for employees to identify their health risks. For example, for a population with 10,000 employees, an annual population health screening program will identify approximately 2,000 unrecognized cases of chronic disease.4 What’s more, additional participants will realize benefits that may be less dramatic, but still concrete, such as investigating smoking cessation, increasing physical activity, or improving their nutrition. The actions taken by these employees may impact their long-term health and may help them prevent chronic disease.

While these risks may also be identified through regular physician visits, too often it is those at higher risk who avoid or delay appointments. An employer-sponsored biometric screening may engage those individuals into healthcare and fill in the gaps where they aren’t able or willing to connect with a physician.

In an ideal world, all employees would connect regularly with a primary care physician to keep their health top of mind, yet unfortunately we know that the reality looks a lot different. Many employees are discouraged by the number of appointments physician-based health assessments require, and therefore delay or avoid engaging with a doctor. Additionally, others may not have access to a physician due to healthcare shortages or regional challenges. Offering a lab-based screening program to employees can help bridge the healthcare gap in these instances, and help lower healthcare spend for all individuals. 

Connect with us to learn more about how we can help you implement a lab-based screening program at your organization. 

1.        Reuters. Declining numbers of Americans have a primary care provider. December 16, 2019. Accessed December 2022.

2.        Shifts in Healthcare demand, delivery and care during the COVID-19 era. IQVIA Institute. April 2020. Accessed August 6, 2020.

3.        Statistics based on 2016 case study of claims for Quest Diagnostics Health & Wellness screening participants vs non-participants.

4.        Estimated number of unrecognized at-risk individuals identified annually based on Quest data and extrapolated to an employer population of 10,000 employees. For new programs, number identified in first year will be higher than current estimate.

Learn more about biometric screening and other population health solutions from Quest Diagnostics

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