Bupa’s DNA map service likely to concern employees

The popularity of consumer DNA testing has soared due to technological advancements, making this service cheap enough to be affordable to the public. Businesses that are covered by Bupa can now provide their employees with one of these tests, however some employees believe this could be overstepping the boundary between their personal and professional life, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Bupa has begun offering its SmartDNA test to businesses it covers as an enhancement to a Bupa health assessment. The DNA test can reveal any food sensitivities an individual may have, how their body responds to exercise, any injury predispositions, and how an individual deals with stress. Employees covered by Bupa also receive a call from a health and wellbeing coach to go through their results and highlight any beneficial lifestyle changes they should make.

Yasha Kuruvilla, General Insurance, Associate Analyst at GlobalData, comments, “The DNA testing market is expected to grow, largely dominated by players such as ‘Ancestry.com’ and ‘23andMe’. These tests are predominantly used to reveal information about an individual’s ethnicity and background, and to identify potential relatives. However, they can also be used to gain insight into an individual’s potential health risks and predispositions to certain behaviors.”

The introduction of this service comes at a time when companies are recognizing the need to promote wellbeing among their employees. 71% of SMEs believe they should play an active role in supporting their employees’ physical health and wellbeing, while 76% believe the same regarding their employees’ mental health and wellbeing.

Kuruvilla adds, “Despite this, there is still concern among the public about the use of their private data. Sharing too much information and privacy concerns are the top reasons that are deterring consumers from sharing data with their private insurance provider. If sharing fitness data is a concern for consumers, then allowing a provider to examine their genetic composition will surely also be an issue.”

Although it is true that employee health and wellbeing should be a priority for employers, there is always going to be a fine line between providing tailored individual support and becoming too involved in someone’s personal life.

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