If I made a choice that was unfavorable to you, and you belted me over the head with a 4×4 to let me know you were not pleased, it wouldn’t take me long to connect the dots. Even C+ students can be open to suggestion.
The U.S. Government may be about to whack you over the head with a 4×4. If you plan to use HRAs (Health Risk Appraisals), biometric data to single out individuals for intervention, or incentives to influence their health choices, be warned. . .
Uncle Sam and the Trial Attorneys Are Now Watching
If you haven’t noticed, a legal gauntlet awaits you before implementing anything that captures an individual’s health data. The Government is concerned that some shady corporate managers and insurance companies may use that data to discriminate in bad ways.
And many of our main health associations, like the American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, American Cancer Association, and others are not keen on the idea that their constituents might be singled out for higher premiums, special attention, and scarlet letters.
If you’re smaller than a Fortune 1000 company, and without legal council, compliance personnel, a full-time certified wellness manager, a fully staffed HR department, and huge budgets, I suggest you look over my following recommended “Wellness No” and “Wellness Yes” tips for Wellness Programs 2013+.
Wellness No. . .
- HRAs administered via employer or employer contractor.
- Biometric screening at the workplace.
- Financial incentives for participation or outcomes.
- Target any individuals based on their personal health data.
- Expensive wellness programs. Free is the right number to start from.
- Long contracts with wellness vendors.
- Distractions or big-time commitments for management.
- The need for staff to have special certifications, credentials, training, and designations.
That collective scream you just heard was the wellness companies that make their living getting you to do these things. They don’t want to have this discussion. But many wellness companies’ business models and philosophies are dangerously out of date.
Wellness Yes. . .
- Communication-based and social media centric strategies.
- Employee volunteers managing and running the wellness program.
- Peer-to-peer oriented.
- Piggybacking local events, and using free local, state, and national resources.
- Teaming up with other local organizations to reduce duplication, share resources, and lower costs.
- Focus on healthy cultures — and healthy people will follow.
The New Wellness Era
For all but the big employers, the trend is that risk associated with medical costs is being shifted from the workplace to taxpayers and the broader community. Thus there is now little reason to collect, track, monitor, or intervene regarding an individual’s personal health data. In fact, by tapping into free community and national resources, you can probably avoid workplace wellness-related privacy regulations altogether.
These resources are made available by the same non-profit associations and government entities that are most concerned about privacy and health status discrimination.
Think of the new wellness era as a highway system. You don’t need to build the highway. Just drive on it. New workplace wellness programs will have very simple, inexpensive, and functional designs. And they’ll be supported by complex and powerful public resources. Wellness should be about the health of body, mind, spirit, and leading a productive life. Maybe we can focus on that idea next.
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Shawn is the President and Founder of Hope Health. For over 30 years, his work has focused on bringing clear, easy-to-read, and watch health messages to the public via workplaces. He bills himself as the “Best C+ Student in the Wellness Biz” because, as he says, “I like to challenge the notion that there is no such thing as a stupid question.” Shawn is on a mission to tie workplaces into their surrounding communities to share resources and ideas in an effort to improve the health of all Americans.
You may reach Shawn at sconnors@HopeHealth.com or 800-334-4094.