Many organizations choose to measure health and wellness by gathering metrics and data via a health risk assessment (HRA). The benefits of these surveys are two-fold: employers use the information to ensure wellness programs meet the needs of their population, and employees may use the information to understand where they should focus their health improvement efforts.
Compare against national standards
To be most effective, an HRA should use standards-based health risk questions that cover the highest priority health conditions and health behaviors. For example:
Participant responses are then scored against publicly available patient-reported outcome measures so that risks or areas of focus are easy to identify.
It’s important to note that an HRA survey must be administered in a way that ensures employee privacy and does not violate the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA), privacy laws, or state regulations. As an employee benefits attorney told Time, Inc., employers are “prohibited from using health risk assessments for any reason other than for wellness programs.”
Identify areas of concern
Based on the employee’s responses to the HRA questions, they should receive a personalized report or recommendations for how to address high-priority health issues. For example, if an employee's responses indicate limited physical activity or consistent use of tobacco, the HRA report can be used to indicate high risks areas which, if addressed, could improve the participant’s overall health. It’s also helpful for employees to have something to print out and bring to their next doctor’s appointment.
Focus on optimal behaviors
Rather than using HRA data to punish employees (e.g., requiring employees who have high cholesterol to pay an additional health care fee every month), a summary of the trends found in an employee population can help employers identify what programs would be of most use.
For example, if many workers aren’t getting enough physical activity in their day, or are struggling to quit smoking, an employer can look at offering a program such as Walkadoo or QuitNet to meet those needs.
MeYou Health’s NCQA-certified HRA is an example of a health and wellness survey and assessment tool that not only gathers data but also provides healthy solutions for employees based on their survey responses. In Q1 of 2018, MeYou Health will be releasing the OpenHRA tool under a Creative Commons license for use by other organizations without licensing fees.
Using MeYou Health’s survey, participants answer questions about their physical activity, diet, use of alcohol and drugs, and emotional and mental health. Based on those responses,which are scored based on national public health data, the tool suggests three personalized behavior changes (e.g., "Manage stress," "Eat more fruit and vegetables," or “Walk more”). The participant then has the option to answer three additional questions which will direct them to an online program tailored to their needs.
Although an HRA survey is an integral part of a successful wellness program, don't let your efforts stop after employees complete the assessment. The HRA should be used as a source of information to confirm and promote the wellness offerings that will best serve your employee population. HRA data can be used to empower employees to make positive choices for their health, making it possible for an organization—and its employees—to enjoy life-changing results.