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The Ultimate Corporate Wellness Glossary: 25 Terms to Know

Posted Mar 14 2013 9:50am

Wellness DictionaryAs a newbie to the world of corporate wellness, you may be scratching your head. Like any industry, it is filled with jargon and acronyms. But don’t let terminology prevent you from achieving success. Review all the definitions below that you'll need to be a health promotion rock star.

Absenteeism – The average number of sick days or disability days per employee in a given time period.

Aggregate data – The averaging and categorizing of a particular data element for the population of participating employees.

Biometric screening – A biometric screening is a general health check that can identify significant health risks. This health check provides several biometric measures including: cholesterol levels; blood pressure; blood glucose levels and also includes a measurement of height, weight, waist circumference and body mass index (BMI).

BMI – A number calculated from a person’s weight and height, which is an indicator of body fat for most people. Equation: weight (lbs)/[height (in)] 2 x 703

Cholesterol  is a waxy, fat-like substance made in the liver and other cells and found in certain foods, such as food from animals, like dairy products, eggs, and meat. There are four differ types of cholesterol:

  • Low density lipoproteins (LDL) – LDL, also called "bad" cholesterol, can cause buildup of plaque on the walls of arteries. The more LDL there is in the blood, the greater the risk of heart disease.
  • High density lipoproteins (HDL) – HDL, also called "good" cholesterol, helps the body get rid of bad cholesterol in the blood. The higher the level of HDL cholesterol, the better. If levels of HDL are low, the risk of heart disease increases.
  • Very low density lipoproteins (VLDL) – VLDL is similar to LDL cholesterol in that it contains mostly fat and not much protein.
  • Triglycerides – Triglycerides are another type of fat that is carried in the blood by very low density lipoproteins. Excess calories, alcohol, or sugar in the body are converted into triglycerides and stored in fat cells throughout the body.

GINA – Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act that protects Americans against discrimination based on their genetic information. It prohibits the use of incentives to acquire genetic information, including family medical history.

Glucose – Glucose, a type of sugar, comes from carbohydrate foods. It is the main source of energy used by the body.

Health care utilization costs – The total amount of money paid by health insurance companies for the employees’ health-related services.

Health coaching – Individual discussion and counseling services provided to help people achieve their personal health goals.

Health Risk Assessment (HRA) – A questionnaire completed by each individual employee that is designed to help assess current health status and build motivation to make changes to improve their health. 

Health risk factors – Characteristics that can be modified, nearly always with much less cost compared to waiting for sickness and then attempting to treat the disease.

HIPAA – Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. The law has several parts but includes requirements to protect the privacy of individuals' protected health information. Health plans, providers, and wellness vendors with access to protected health information are covered by the requirements of HIPAA. There are also nondiscrimination wellness provisions that relate to wellness incentives. 

Incentive  A form of direct compensation where employers pay for performance beyond
normal expectations to motivate employees to perform at higher levels.

Metabolic syndrome  a name for a group of risk factors that occur together and increase the risk for coronary artery disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. It is present if the individual has three or more signs: high blood pressure, high fasting blood sugar (glucose), large waist circumference, low HDL cholesterol and high triglycerides.

National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) – A not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving health-care quality. Although it is not required, some wellness program components are NCQA certified.

Online portal – A secure, Internet-based interface for employees to complete health risk assessments and receive confidential, individualized resources for health improvement.

Outcomes-Based Wellness Programs – These programs are growing in popularity. They require participants to achieve a specific health goal before they can receive an incentive, instead of just merely for participation. It could be for having healthy levels of blood pressure or cholesterol. Many companies move to this approach after their wellness program has been up and running for a few years.

Population Health Management
The integration and outcome measurement of any program affecting the health and productivity of your organization, i.e. corporate wellness, disease management, catastrophic case management, EAP, disability, and/or worker’s compensation programs. The goal of population health management is to keep an employee population as healthy as possible, minimizing the need for expensive interventions such as visits to the emergency room, hospitalizations, and procedures.

Presenteeism – The loss of employee productivity due to health problems usually expressed as number of hours per employee or cost per employee in a given time period.

Waist circumference – A measurement of the waist. Fat around the waist increases the risk of obesity-related health problems.

Wellness team/committee – A group of individuals responsible for helping the organization develop and maintain an effective wellness program.

What terms did I miss? What would you like to see added to this list?

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