Health Risk Assessments: Identifying Risk Before it Becomes Reality

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Armed with disease management and wellness promotion programs, e-health initiatives and incentives for healthier lifestyles, healthcare organizations are taking proactive approaches with their populations. But first they need to know what their populations need. The health risk assessment (HRA) is a valuable tool that helps identify risk factors, stratify employee populations, and engage members in initiatives to support lifestyle change. More organizations are getting on board with HRAs, according to a November 2005 survey of more than 200 participants conducted by the Healthcare Intelligence Network (HIN). HRAs: How the Healthcare Industry Identifies Risk Before it Becomes Reality, an in-depth eight-page analysis, highlights HRA initiatives within healthcare organizations ranging from employers and health plans to disease management companies and benefits consultants. This extended executive summary evaluates the emerging trend toward HRAs and discusses how survey respondents implement HRA programs to attain positive returns on investment.

In learning how to navigate today’s healthcare climate of chronic conditions and consumer-driven care, employers and health plans increasingly abide by one fundamental principle: prevention pays off.

Armed with disease management and wellness promotion programs, e-health initiatives and incentives for healthier lifestyles, healthcare organizations are taking proactive approaches with their populations. But first they need to know what their populations need. The health risk assessment (HRA) is a valuable tool that helps identify risk factors, stratify employee populations, and engage members in initiatives to support lifestyle change.

More organizations are getting on board with HRAs, according to a November 2005 survey of more than 200 participants conducted by the Healthcare Intelligence Network (HIN). HRAs: How the Healthcare Industry Identifies Risk Before it Becomes Reality, an in-depth eight-page analysis, highlights HRA initiatives within healthcare organizations ranging from employers and health plans to disease management companies and benefits consultants.

This extended executive summary evaluates the emerging trend toward HRAs and discusses how survey respondents implement HRA programs to attain positive returns on investment.    To learn more about how HRAs can drive preserve the bottom line, please visit http://www.hin.com/cgi-local/link/news/pl.cgi?hralong.

By promoting self-awareness and health consciousness, the HRA motivates employees to lead healthier lifestyles. Data from these assessments help employers design optimal programming to suit the needs of their unique populations. Of the 215 respondents to this survey, 60 percent already have HRAs in place. More than half of those without current HRA programs intend to implement them in 2006.

“Employer groups want and need healthy individuals,” said a hospital/health system that participated in the survey. “But an HRA must be completed in order for the programming to be beneficial.”

Frustrated by the interruption to their workdays, many employees see the HRA as little more than a nuisance and resent the inconvenience. As a result, assessments are either incomplete, inaccurate or ignored altogether. Now, employers offer incentives to take the HRA, ranging from reduced premiums to cash prizes and company contests. And according to survey respondents, it works.

This industry-wide movement toward HRA adoption was the subject of a May 2005 audio conference sponsored by HIN. In “Mining Health Risk Assessments for Richer ROI and Results,” expert panelists discuss evolution within the HRA market, practical applications and strategies for success.

“It’s important to keep tabs on people, especially populations with no known risk factors,” said Gregg Lehman, president and CEO Gordian Health Solutions, who spoke at the audio conference and features in this executive summary. “They’ll need some type of intervention as they age. Prevention ROIs average about $3.48 for every dollar invested in these programs.”

Survey participants describe wide-ranging effects of their programs and share their frustrations and goals for the future. By sharing their experiences with HRAs, respondents provide guidelines and suggestions for HRA initiatives. To learn other tips and strategies for optimizing HRAs, the myriad ways to use data and how else to facilitate participation, please visit http://www.hin.com/cgi-local/link/news/pl.cgi?hralong.

“The HRA is more than just an instrument,” said an outsourcing firm for human resource, healthcare and technology solutions that responded to the survey. “Feedback provides immediate and engaging responses to members to drive program participation, increase personal awareness and, ultimately, promote changes in personal health habits.” For further results of this survey, in-depth analysis and more information on HRAs, please visit the HIN bookstore.

About the Healthcare Intelligence Network---HIN is the premier advisory service for executives seeking high-quality strategic information on the business of healthcare. For more information, contact the Healthcare Intelligence Network, PO Box 1442, Wall Township, NJ 07719-1442, (888) 446-3530, fax (732) 292-3073, e-mail info@hin.com, or visit http://www.hin.com.

Jennifer Millman

(732) 528-4468

(732) 292-3073

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Patricia Donovan
HIN
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