Screening Smackdown! Which is Best for Your Program: Venipuncture or Fingerstick?


Guest blog featuring Patricia Dixon, AVP of Screening Services, Viverae

Knowing your health metrics is the key to understanding your current health situation and identifying what changes you can make to enjoy a healthier lifestyle. That’s why most wellness programs require some sort of biometric screening in order to complete the program. These screenings provide a quick and convenient way to gather these numbers and give program members the guidance they need to reach their health goals.

The cornerstone of these screenings is the blood test, which is used to measure specific metrics like cholesterol, glucose, and triglycerides, among others. This involves drawing blood using either the fingerstick method—which relies on a few drops taken from the fingertip—or the venipuncture method—which requires a vial of blood taken from the arm. But, which method emerges as the undisputed heavyweight champion?

Unfortunately, determining a clear winner is not as simple as that. Both methods are viable options. Which one is best for your organization depends on preference and company objectives, among other variables. Here are a few key differences to keep in mind as you make your decision. 

Accuracy: Both methods provide accurate results; however, there is a perception that the fingerstick method is somehow less reliable than venipuncture. That isn’t entirely true. While the venipuncture method may technically produce more accurate results, the fingerstick method produces results that fall within national guidelines. For the purposes of a quick biometric screening, either option will produce solid and accurate numbers.

Testing Panels: Both methods will provide insight into the key metrics. But even more tests can be conducted when using the venipuncture method. That’s because blood samples are sent to a lab for study, whereas the fingerstick method produces numbers on the spot. For many, the basics of cholesterol, glucose, and triglycerides, in addition to blood pressure, height, and weight, are perfectly fine; however, if you wish to test for things like A1C, then venipuncture is the way to go. 

Participation: While some employees may be indifferent to the method, there are those who find the venipuncture method a bit intimidating or painful. The fingerstick method, on the other hand, is very simple and relatively painless. If you choose to utilize the venipuncture method, be aware that participation numbers may take a hit unless you have a solid incentive in place and set expectations to dispel any anxiety. 

Delivery of Results: One of the key advantages of the fingerstick method is that results are available instantly, whereas the venipuncture method takes some time since the blood sample must be sent to a lab. This presents a teachable moment during the screening, giving the screening team an opportunity to discuss health risks with the program member immediately, instead of waiting for results and trying to connect them to a health coach later. 

With so many variables to consider when implementing a wellness program, it’s easy to overlook the importance of selecting an appropriate screening method. Both methods play an important role in workplace wellness programs; however, understanding the differences can help you make the right choice for your organization.

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