A Few Basics On Health Risk Assessments

Like many of you, I’ve heard a lot about HRAs (Health Risk Assessments) for years.  A few times I’ve even taken them.  And, depending on your employer, you may even get paid to complete one.  But, what are the basics about HRAs that you should know?

  1. What is a HRA?  An HRA is a series of questions that can be administered over the Internet or by the phone or by a nurse to help collect patient reported data to help screen patients for chronic conditions or risk of developing a chronic condition based on their behaviors or other data.  Additionally, they often lead to either immediate feedback on behaviors to address or lead to the patient being engaged into a program with a wellness, disease management, or case management. 
  2. Should employees be incented to take an HRA?  Incentives are basically used to increase response rates to the HRA.  Not surprisingly, several studies show that incentives work, but education about the need to take the HRA is also important.  In some cases, employers are even linking participation to premiums.  Additionally, here’s a list of the top incentives used based on a 2010 study. 
  3. How should an HRA be used?  An HRA is a key component of an overall care management strategy.  Like claims analysis, the objective of the HRA is a screening mechanism to identify patients who should be included in wellness, disease management, or care management program. 
  4. Are HRAs valuable?  There have been studies over the years that have shown a 2:1 or 3:1 ROI for wellness programs and a ROI for case management.  HRAs are valuable in identifying more patients who should be enrolled in these programs. 
  5. Should you combine biometrics with HRAs?  Here’s a good study that shows that blending lab work with HRA data significantly increases the likelihood of identifying patients with diseases especially kidney disease. 

Of course, no HRA is valuable if:

  • You can’t get enough members to actually take the HRA.
  • You don’t have an engagement strategy to get the members to participate in the program.
  • You don’t continue to follow-up and help the member manage their condition.
  • The member doesn’t get engaged in their healthcare. 
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