How to Use Health Risk Assessments Successfully

Health risk assessments are often tied to wellness programs as a result of their many benefits, both to employees and employers. The information companies gain, allows them to build a wellness program targeting specific health risks and employee preferences. HR professionals are encouraged to gain a strong understanding of their purpose and their highly confidential nature before implementing them into their wellness program.

What is a health risk assessment?
A health risk assessment is a scientific assessment tool or questionnaire used to identify health risks. The results outline helpful information, useful in improving an individual’s health. A successful health risk assessment will include four elements:

• Individual lifestyle questionnaire completed by participant
• Data evaluated by a computer program
• Individual report remains confidential
• Resulting data is aggregated

Common assessment questions focus on lifestyle and health predisposition, including:
• Nutrition and physical activity
• Height and weight
• Family health history
• Personal stress perceptions
• Smoking history
• Work satisfaction

How is the data reported?
The resulting data is reported as an aggregate to employers. It highlights possible health concerns for your specific workforce, without revealing confidential individual health information. Due to the confidential nature of the data, it is best to use an outside provider, like Triscope, to collect and analyze the data.

How is a health risk assessment used?
Employers use health risk assessments to tailor their wellness programs. The data helps employers focus on health topics that are specific to their group of employees. Many times the assessments are modified to also include activity preference – although this may be done separately in the form of an employee survey.

A health risk assessment’s purpose often goes beyond the foundation of a wellness program. With its implementation, employees learn more about their health and are given tools to manage it better. This provides both the company and the employee savings in the long run and better productivity. Employees will stay healthier, visit doctors and hospitals less frequently and miss less days of work. Employers will reap the benefits of lower absenteeism and see greater productivity – which yield greater profits. It is recommended that companies administer health risk assessments on an annual basis in order to gain an ongoing assessment of program success and of new health topics or concerns requiring attention.

Research also credits greater wellness program engagement to health risk assessments. When employees learn about their health predispositions, they will seek ways to improve their current health and utilise what your program has to offer.

Encouraging health risk assessments
HR professionals should encourage employee participation in health risk assessments with the use of incentives. Use incentives such as gift cards, prizes or even paid time off to encourage participation. Like in any other incentive program, be sure the incentive is appropriate in value to the activity you’re encouraging.

The bottom line
Health risk assessments are great tools to include in a wellness program. They provide benefits to both employers and employees in reduced costs and improved productivity. When used correctly, they can provide companies a great foundation and measurement of program success.

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