Health Risk Assessments: Vital For Every Company

By on November 1, 2013

For every company, the management and assessment of employee health is an ever-growing and vital concern. Some naysayers quip that health risk assessments (HRAs) are unnecessary – the obese person already knows they need to lose weight, the smoker knows they need to quit. However, in addition to the more palpable health risks, there are a myriad of other conditions that an employee can have beneath the surface – high blood pressure, high cholesterol, poor eating habits, even symptoms of depression.

Without conducting an HRA to find these underlying health risks, no company can have a truly successful wellness program.  Even more importantly, you can’t measure the impact of your wellness program without establishing a baseline.

Here are several reasons why health risk assessments are beneficial for every company:

Identifying a Health Baseline and Improving Upon It

In order to have a successful wellness plan, it is imperative for not only your employees to be aware of their health risks, but also there to be a written record of them.  Once these baseline health statistics are recorded, an HRA can be used as a benchmarking tool – measuring how much a person (or an employee group)improves their health compared to where they started. Without the health risk assessment in place, there is no effective way to measure outcomes and document the improvements and benefits of a wellness program.

Discerning Groups with Specific Needs for Intervention

Improving your employees’ health is not something that is easily achieved if you enter into the task blindly – knowing nothing about their underlying health risks or lifestyle practices. An HRA enables wellness coaches and other health professionals to discuss the health risks of employees on a personal level. Those with a specific need can be invited to an intervention class. For example, an HRA allows a wellness program manager to query their database and invite those who have  signs of depression to attend a class on overcoming depression and anxiety.

Educating Employees About Their Health Risks

A good HRA will include biometric data (height, weight, body composition, blood tests, and fitness tests) in addition to information an employee self-reports about their health history and lifestyle choices, such as their eating habits and exercise practices. Gathering both kinds of data  increases your wellness program’s accuracy as well as its success.

Having this information also allows your company to provide a personalized disease prevention plan for each individual employee.  A good HRA will provide this information in a comprehensive personal report that includes specific guidelines for lowering the person’s risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, obesity, poor nutrition, depression, and osteoporosis, for example.

Finding What Health Insurance Claims Might Miss

Sure, it’s possible to glean information about employees’ health needs by reviewing your health claims data, but a health insurance claim hardly paints a full picture of an employee’s health. These claims can tell you if someone has a health condition because they are already taking a medication to treat it. For example, a person taking a beta blocker possibly indicates a blood pressure problem.

Yet it is unproductive to wait until a person is already taking a blood pressure medication to discover they have a health condition. The ideal wellness program will be able to discover if an employee is at risk of developing high blood pressure while there is still time to address it through lifestyle interventions, as opposed to waiting until they have already been put on a beta blocker for the rest of their life.

This is possible through the use of a health risk assessment and biometric screening. In short, a good HRA allows your company and wellness program to take a “proactive” rather than “reactive” approach to employee health.

Regardless of whether you own or manage a small or large business, health risk assessments are vital to the success of any wellness program and should never be overlooked.  In addition to helping you develop a better wellness program, they also tend to result in healthier and happier employees.

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Written by a staff writer at Wellsource, Inc. Headquartered in Portland, Oregon. Wellsource has been a leader in Health Risk Assessment technology and corporate wellness for over 30 years.

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