Who has access to my personal health information (PHI)?
Your employer will never see your PHI from a MyBodyScore screening or your overall MyBodyScore. Your employer or health plan may offer employees certain health management or wellness programs. In these cases, your employer or health plan may instruct us to provide those programs with certain PHI and contact information so the programs can contact employees to assist them in effectively managing their health. In these cases, we are only sharing your PHI with the appropriate program and not with your employer.
Can I share MyBodyScore or biomarker results with my doctor?
We encourage you to share your biomarker information with your doctor if you choose. While your doctor will be very familiar with the biomarkers we test, your doctor may not yet be familiar with MyBodyScore.
Why do you need my age and gender?
The impact of the biomarkers on your overall health and life expectancy vary based on your age and gender. For example, healthy cholesterol levels are different for men versus women. Healthy creatinine levels (kidney function) vary as you age. Your Score and resultant percentile rank are based on age and gender so you are not being compared to someone much older or younger, but only people who share your age and gender.
Where did MyBodyScore come from?
MyBodyScore was created by researchers who work at the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) who have spent a life’s work in research dedicated to assessing biomarkers’ impact on health and mortality. The founders desired to create a product that enables anyone to easily obtain a clinical reading on their health and self-direct their healthcare. MBS is used as a lifelong roadmap to understand where you stand, make behavior changes and see your score improve. With Healthcare Reform, your health status can’t be used against you to deny or raise coverage, but shouldn’t you be rewarded if you are healthy? With MBS, you’ll know how to get healthy to live longer with a better quality of life by changing the things you can control.
What is MyBodyScore based on?
MyBodyScore is based on your current risk of dying prematurely relative to others of your same age and gender based on your biomarker results. Research of peer reviewed medical journal articles, along with extensive analysis of biomarkers in a national health database, allowed us to determine the most impactful biomarkers to test, and develop a formula to determine those biomarkers’ impact on your life expectancy.
What is the range of the score? What makes a good score or bad?
The Score ranges from 300-850 and behaves like a credit score. The median Score is 710. The median is the Score at which half the scores would be above that level and half would be below. A median Score of 710 means that you have an average life expectancy for your age and gender. We generally think of Scores below 663 as being of concern and requiring people to modify their behaviors to improve their health and MyBodyScore. We consider Scores from 664 to 746 to be OK, and scores above 746 to be very good.
Why were these biomarkers chosen?
They represent a set of biomarkers that are good indicators of health and are largely affected by lifestyle. Most people can change their diet and exercise habits, avoid tobacco products, and adhere to medications to improve their score and health over time. We also chose biomarkers that do not require fasting to make the testing process as user friendly as possible.
How often should I get MyBodyScore?
We recommend you get tested once or twice a year. Testing more frequently is valuable if you are undertaking lifestyle changes that will impact your Score.
Can MyBodyScore ever be used to deny health insurance coverage or raise my health insurance rates?
No. Healthcare reform currently makes this practice illegal (except for tobacco use in some circumstances).
How does MyBodyScore reflect my risk of getting cancer?
At this point there is no single biomarker that accurately predicts the risk of cancer. However, MyBodyScore represents your life expectancy relative to others of your age and sex. Cancer is a key determinant of life expectancy, and therefore, your score reflects your risk of getting certain cancers. One component of the score, tobacco use (Cotinine), is the single most important risk factor for cancer, particularly cancer involving the lungs, mouth and throat, and bladder. Obesity (BMI) also increases the risk for certain cancers.
MyBodyScore is measuring my biomarkers at a point in time. How does it take into account the cumulative effect of prior health issues or bad habits (e.g. smoked for 20 years and had quit for 6 months when you tested me)?
There is no simple answer to this question. The relationship of MyBodyScore with life expectancy is based on biomarkers measured at one point in time from a large sample of people in the US. Much of the risk associated with an abnormal biomarker value reflects the fact that the biomarker has likely been abnormal for some time. In other words, previous behaviors are inherently present in the individual biomarker values.
One of the biomarkers, creatinine (kidney function), represents the effect of accumulated damage to the kidneys, which is often due to other MyBodyScore components such as high blood sugar (blood glucose) or systolic blood pressure. Therefore, the Score includes information about the effect of elevated risk factors over time.
Tobacco use is an exception, however. The score only knows if you are currently smoking. Therefore, if you get your Score shortly after quitting, the Score will overestimate your life expectancy. The good news is that your risk of lung cancer, for example, returns to baseline after about 10 years. At that point your risk of lung cancer is about the same as someone who had never smoked.
The end result is that MyBodyScore is biased toward rewarding healthy habits. For example, the Score for a person who smokes, has poorly controlled diabetes and high blood pressure will be low. However, after quitting smoking, controlling their blood sugar and blood pressure, the Score will improve significantly and no longer reflect their previously abnormal values (unless they had already experienced some kidney damage).
Does MyBodyScore consider family history or ethnicity since those are known to have a big impact on health risks?
Several non-modifiable factors are associated with life expectancy including ethnicity and family history. We have chosen to emphasize modifiable factors.The aim of MyBodyScore is to summarize biomarkers that you can change with your own behaviors and lifestyle choices.
What are some things MyBodyScore cannot tell me about my health (e.g. low back pain, COPD, certain cancers)?
Some conditions such as low back pain do not impact life expectancy. Therefore, the score may not reflect your risk of developing these conditions. In addition, some conditions that do impact life expectancy do not have reliable or proven biomarkers. These conditions include many cancers and lung problems among others.As biomarker science develops, biomarkers associated with these conditions will be added to the Score.
Am I more or less healthy if I’m obtaining good biomarker results through the use of medicine versus through lifestyle habits?
As this question suggests, MyBodyScore is influenced by biomarker values and not by how those values were achieved. Whether a good value due to medication is as healthy as a good value due to lifestyle is not fully known, but likely favors lifestyle.For example, good health habits such as exercise may have beneficial effects that go beyond the habit’s effect on a given biomarker. If you have a health condition such as diabetes, hypertension or high cholesterol, it is wise to take the prescribed medication AND adopt good health habits.
Why doesn’t MyBodyScore take into account LDL?
Scientific studies show that total cholesterol and HDL (“good” cholesterol) are as predictive of health risk as LDL (“bad” cholesterol). LDL is seldom measured directly but rather calculated based on an algorithm that uses total cholesterol, HDL and triglycerides. A recent meal will influence triglyceride levels, and therefore, LDL. We use total cholesterol because it is less influenced by fasting.
Why doesn’t MyBodyScore take into account diastolic blood pressure? My doctor is usually more concerned about my diastolic reading.
Blood pressure is usually reported using two numbers. The higher number is the systolic blood pressure and the lower number is the diastolic blood pressure.Most studies have shown that systolic blood pressure is more strongly associated with health outcomes than diastolic blood pressure. This is because systolic blood pressure tends to increase with age, and its association with life expectancy is linear. While diastolic blood pressure tends to increase with age, until midlife, when it starts to decrease. This decrease in diastolic blood pressure is due to increasing arterial stiffness. Therefore, diastolic blood pressure has a much more complicated relationship with life expectancy than systolic blood pressure.
Is MyBodyScore predictive of my future health care costs?
At this point we have not yet undertaken the research to correlate MyBodyScore to future health care costs. There are only a few studies that have examined the relationship between biomarker values, health utilization and costs. However, those studies have shown that there is greater short-term health care utilization and costs among those with more abnormal biomarker values.
How long does it take for positive behavior changes to have a material impact on improving the score?
The time needed to achieve a change in MyBodyScore depends on the behavior. For example, the biomarker for smoking goes down to non-smoking levels over a couple weeks to one month. Therefore, the Score will reflect your decision to quit smoking relatively quickly. This is also true for starting medications for high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes.
The impact of lifestyle changes on the Score will likely take longer and correspond to the change in your weight and fitness. Studies of weight loss demonstrate significant results and health benefits over the course of six months.
Who do I call if I have a question about my score or results?
If you have concerns about your individual biomarker results, please speak with your health care provider. If you have general questions about the Score, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
. Please DO NOT
include any Personal Health Information (PHI), which includes your Score and biomarker values, in your e-mail.
What future changes or enhancements do you plan to make to MyBodyScore?
Over time, we expect to increase the number of biomarkers that we test and to do extensive analysis to correlate MyBodyScore to future health care utilization costs. We plan to roll out a direct to consumer testing option. We are very excited about a lot of the changes and advancements occurring in the lab testing industry, and expect to leverage those advancements to create the best user experience possible. We would like to provide connectivity to your healthcare provider so you can grant access to your health record. We would like to build a community to share success stories when people successfully change their Score. We would like for you to use your Score for discounts on your premiums, incentives and free screenings from any Sponsor interested in your health, well-being and longevity (e.g. your gym, life insurer or 401K provider).
What is the screening process like?
Our goal is to make the testing process as easy on you as possible. First off, the biomarkers we test for do not require you to fast.
If you are being screened at your employer, we provide a scheduling tool for you to sign up for your screening. The screening itself takes about 10 minutes. You fill out some simple paperwork consenting to the screening and your blood test. A professional screener will measure your weight and blood pressure, and perform a simple finger stick to withdraw a few drops of blood. At that point, you are done. Your results and MyBodyScore will be available in roughly 7 to 10 days. You will receive an e-mail from MyBodyScore when the results are available. You then log into your account to see your overall Score and individual biomarker results.
If you use one of our test-at-home kits, the kit will contain everything you need to collect a few drops of blood, including comprehensive instructions and a prepaid return envelope to send the collected blood sample to the lab. The at home process takes about 10 minutes. Your results and overall MyBodyScore will be available in roughly 7 to 10 days. You will receive an e-mail from us when the results are available. You then log in to your account to see your Score and individual biomarker results. You will need to enter your height, weight and blood pressure when you log in in order for your Score to calculate.
Why this number of biomarkers? Would score be just as accurate with top three biomarkers?
There is no mathematical “magic number” of biomarkers, but there were some pragmatic constraints regarding the number to choose. Within these constraints, we chose the biomarkers that had the strongest evidence in scientific literature for being associated with long-term outcomes.
A smaller set of biomarkers would be nearly as accurate for most people. However, one of the additional biomarkers may be particularly important for many people. Creatinine (kidney function) is a good example. Most people have normal kidney function. However, among those who have abnormal kidney function, about 20% of the US population, creatinine has a very strong relationship with life expectancy.
Why do you not test for CRP? My doctor looks at that number.
CRP, or C-reactive protein, correlates with inflammation and can be elevated in the short term due to infections or in the long term due to increased body fat, decreased fitness and other reasons. CRP levels are associated with the risk of future heart events and may be a useful additional biomarker for some people. Although potentially useful for those intermediate risks of a heart attack, CRP does not add significant information to the existing MyBodyScore biomarkers in most people. While CRP is not currently included in the Score, its level can be helpful as you and your doctor consider approaches to lower your risk for heart disease.
Why no fasting? How does not fasting affect my score?
The Score’s biomarkers are minimally affected by fasting. Recent meals impact triglycerides levels, which are used to calculate LDL (“bad” cholesterol). In order to minimize the impact of a recent meal on the score, we use total cholesterol rather than LDL. Several large, population-based studies have shown that fasting does not greatly impact total cholesterol and HDL (“good” cholesterol).
Does MyBodyScore test for blood glucose levels the same way my doctor tests for diabetes?
MyBodyScore is a screening tool and cannot be used to make a diagnosis. One of the score’s biomarkers, Blood Glucose (HbA1c), can be used by medical providers to make a diagnosis of diabetes. For a diagnosis of diabetes to be made, the HbA1c must be greater than 6.5% on more than one occasion.
Why don’t you include vitamin D in the biomarkers you test?
Vitamin D is important to bone health, and potentially the health of other biological systems. The prevalence of vitamin D deficiency is also very high in the US and around the world. It’s not yet clear, however, whether supplementing vitamin D in most people decreases risk of future health events. There are large on-going studies designed to answer this question. We will add vitamin D, and other biomarkers, once the evidence for their importance is sufficient.
How much can I change my score by engaging in healthier lifestyle choices?
Healthy habits such as weight loss, exercise, smoking cessation and medication adherence can have big impacts on the score. The size of the impact will depend on the change in the individual biomarker levels.
What does creatinine measure? What do my kidneys do?
The kidneys are responsible for excreting by-products of metabolism and for controlling blood pressure among other important duties. Creatinine is a molecule made by muscle and filtered by the kidneys. Its blood level is primarily determined by the rate of kidney filtration. As kidney filtration deceases due to kidney disease, creatinine increases.