About two years ago, Honda Canada had self-serve health-screening machines installed at its Alliston, Ont., plants. The machines provide readings for blood pressure and heart rate, along with measuring weight and body mass index (BMI).

The Healthbots link well to Honda’s wellness program, according to Brad Robinson, corporate health and wellness administrator at Honda Canada.

“The program’s mandate is to create a culture of wellness whereby employees are motivated to attain and sustain maximum potential in areas of physical and mental health, resulting in a wellness-infused workplace.”

As part of the effort, regular emails are sent to employees encouraging them to make use of the Healthbots, he said.

“For employees who participate in the program through our Living Well rewards program, the more an employee participates, the greater the prize or reward.”

So far, the Healthbots at Honda have been received very well, said Robinson.

“We have branded them with our Living Well logo and located them in relatively high-traffic areas,” he said. “The general feedback is that employees are appreciative to be able to get their biometric info quickly, and also track historically, making it easy to see results at different times of the day.”

Boosting wellness

Similar to on-site screening clinics, the kiosks are yet another tool being offered by employers as a way for people to keep track of their health.

“What we’re doing is providing that education to employees that allows them to take their health into their own hands,” said Jim Evans, vice-president of business development at eVie Health Technologies in Vancouver, which installs the Healthbot kiosk (manufactured by U.S.-based Healthchek Network).

“Knowledge is power and it really incentivizes them to make healthy changes, either to diet or lifestyle changes, to ultimately better their health.”

The user can create an account and then save that data on a centralized server, which can be recalled at any time, he said.

“It gives them the ability to track and trend the biometrics.”

The units are typically placed in high-traffic areas, according to Evans, which encourages workers to make use them often.

“We can put these just about anywhere: all we need really is a power outlet, and an internet connection,” he said.

Bottom-line effects

In promoting health, companies that purchase the units see a bottom-line effect, according to Evans.

“You are really lowering the amount of sick days; ultimately, leading to lower health costs per employee.”

Corporate culture can also be vastly improved, according to Bill Shapiro, president and CEO of Workplace Medical Corp. (an onsite biometric screening company) in Hamilton.

“From the employer’s perspective, putting out the message that ‘We are interested in your health and we’re supporting you, that’s important to us,’ is well-received by the employees,” said Shapiro.

“(Employees are) very appreciative that the services are being offered. An awful lot of people don’t know their numbers and this is an eye-opener for them and this is actually a very important step in helping them manage their health. And, every once in a while, we do find people with significant problems who are very thankful that those problems were caught.”

Privacy concerns?

At Honda Canada, the kiosks were made more private by erecting partitions around them, said Robinson, with units placed in cafeterias and lobbies.

But if employees have privacy concerns about their personal data, eVie Health has a strict privacy and security statement, said Evans.

“We store all the data on Canadian soil, we have a Canadian cloud provider that provides all the security that you’d see for any sort of health-care information,” he said. “We use state-of-the-art encryption on all data transfers. It does get heavily scrutinized, but once we were able to create that comfort level, showing that we have taken the steps to ensure the security of this data, for the most part, that concern will go away.”

And if employees are still concerned the health information will be sent to their employer, there’s an extra step, said Evans.

“The kiosk can always be used in a completely anonymous fashion. The user does not have to sign into an account, they can just go up and pick their blood pressure and their weight and still receive the same information, the same data.”

But once people’s concerns are alleviated, usage rates grow, said Shapiro.

“We have number of clients whose participation rates have increased dramatically from 40 or 50 per cent to 70 or 80 per cent as they get more comfortable with it, as they appreciate .”

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