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One compelling reason to participate in a wellness plan

Originally posted by Dan Cook on July 16, 2015 on benefitspro.com.

In the midst of questions about the effectiveness of wellness programs, one advocate for such programs says the results of a recent survey show that wellness initiatives greatly reduce the risk that a person’s chronic condition will go undiagnosed.

The group, HealthMine, a consumer health engagement company, polled 750 people enrolled in wellness programs and found that 28 percent of participants had been diagnosed with a chronic condition in the past two years. Almost half of those (46 percent) had received their diagnosis through the wellness program, suggesting that they may have gone much longer without treatment had the program not been available.

HealthMine described the findings as particularly salient with regards to some of the most pressing American health concerns, noting that a third of those who suffer from diabetes are unaware of it. The solution, suggests HealthMine, is to expand the availability of wellness programs as well as to increase the number of health tests that allow people to better understand their health vulnerabilities.

A separate poll that HealthMine conducted of 1,200 consumers found 74 percent support the use of genetic tests in wellness programs to help consumers identify health risks.

Moreover, most of the survey respondents signaled they would take part in various health screenings if they were offered by their employer.

The survey nevertheless showed far greater resistance to certain health screenings than to others. Nearly three-quarters said they would be up to do a screening for vision or blood pressure, and 69 percent said they would do a cholesterol screening. But only 58 percent said they would do a cancer screening, 54 percent said they would do a BMI screening and only 41 percent said they were up for a skin analyzer.

HealthMine CEO Bryce Williams said these surveys suggest that only when consumers are aware of their own health conditions will wellness programs meet their full potential.

“To succeed, wellness programs must enable people to learn their key health facts, and connect individuals to their personal clinical data anytime, anywhere,” he said. “When consumers and plans are empowered with knowledge, wellness programs can make recommendations meaningful to individuals, and help to prevent and manage chronic disease.”

A past study suggested that while companies do typically hope that wellness programs can help them keep down health care costs, their top motivation for doing the programs is to improve the health of their employees.