PORTLAND, Ore., Sept. 24, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Each year, more employers are offering health risk assessments (HRAs) as part of their workplace wellness programs. Often, it is provided through an individual's health plan. Dr. Brittany U. Carter, Director of Health and Research for Wellsource, will explain why HRAs are important in creating effective population health programs during an educational hands-on workshop at the 2019 National Wellness Conference. Attendees will learn how to use self-reported HRA data to better understand how to effectively engage populations into healthier activities.
Health risk assessment data is typically self-reported data that is collected from an individual about their health and lifestyle behaviors via a survey or questionnaire. The HRA may ask questions such as how many hours of sleep an individual gets each night and how many fruits and vegetables they eat each day. The data collected can also include information about their demographics, health status, personal health history, symptoms, lifestyle behaviors, feelings, attitudes and beliefs, biometrics, social determinants of health, and more.
"Understanding individuals' health risks is essential to preventing chronic disease and improving population health. The health and lifestyle data collected in a health risk assessment is the only data set that provides us a window into seeing the many behaviors or feelings that simply go unnoticed—such as stress or depression. And it is these behaviors where we can intervene," says Dr. Carter.
In 2018, the Kaiser Family Foundation reported 62 percent of large companies provided workers with the opportunity to complete a health risk assessment. And these companies are finding HRAs indeed make a difference in employee population health. A systematic review conducted for the Community Preventive Services Task Force found strong evidence of the effectiveness of health risk assessments with feedback on reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes.
Health risk assessments help an organization develop a very targeted wellness program, specific to population needs. The data collected in HRAs give health and wellness professionals a better understanding of their population's demographics, including social determinants of health, habits, and readiness to change. It also allows health and wellness professionals to concentrate their efforts on the most prevalent disease risks in their population, allowing them to intervene where appropriate.
As example, after reviewing the HRA data, Nebraska Medicine, with more than 8,000 employees, implemented an outcome-based incentive program to encourage participating in the worksite wellness program to improve their overall health score (they also eliminated the fee required to access the on-site fitness center). They saw a 400 percent increase in fitness center usage in the first year alone, and participation continues to grow. Employees are exhibiting healthier behaviors and improving their overall health.
"Evaluation is critical to the success of any wellness program. It's important to compare your HRA data from before the implementation to collected HRA data after the implementation. As with any program evaluation and quality improvement, you are going to want to monitor your success in order to make modifications to achieve the highest possible outcomes and to keep on top of current, changing issues employees may have," says Dr. Carter.
Dr. Carter's educational session will be conducted Tuesday, October 1, 2:45-4:00 PM. Wellsource will also be exhibiting during the conference at booth number 28.
Wellsource Inc. has been a premier provider of evidence-based health risk assessments (HRAs) and self-management tools for four decades. With a strong reputation for scientific research and validity, the company offers an innovative family of products that empower wellness companies, health plans, ACOs and healthcare providers to inspire healthy lifestyles, prevent disease and reduce unnecessary healthcare costs. Wellsource's assessments connect lifestyle choices with healthy outcomes, measure readiness to change for maximum results and drive informed decisions with actionable data. For more information about Wellsource products, please visit www.wellsource.com or connect with Wellsource at [email protected].