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Health Risk Assessments Provide Actionable Data

When an employer is considering a wellness program, the options can seem confusing and overwhelming. Wellness programs generally fall into one of three categories:

Traditional or conventional wellness programs are the most common of the three programs and involve incentives to encourage employee participation. A key component of these programs is the Health Risk Assessment (HRA). 

The HRA is a questionnaire that evaluates overall health and willingness to change behavior. It is a valuable tool for identifying the presence of disease as well as risk factors associated with specific diseases, such as diabetes. HRAs can be used to identify at-risk employees and target specific strategies to increase or maintain good health. This data is a critical first step in gathering the information you need to develop an effective wellness program.

Health risk assessments are generally well-received by employees because it can uncover health risks that the employee may be unaware of. Typically, each employee receives a confidential report and the employer receives an aggregate report with grouped statistics. The group data helps you identify risk factors that can be addressed through targeted workplace wellness initiatives.

The information the HRA yields will help you focus on the areas where your employees have the greatest need and readiness to change. You can implement behavioral change programs or rewards,such as gym memberships, educational seminars and other communication about specific diseases or at-risk lifestyle practices.

For example, if 20% of your employee population smokes and the HRA survey results indicate that these employees want to stop smoking, then offering a smoking cessation program should be a high priority. HRAs help you target your resources where you have the greatest likelihood to have a positive impact. If implemented correctly, you can chart a successful course for your wellness initiatives.

Traditional programs are an excellent way to formalize your current wellness initiatives. These programs require a budget and are best implemented as part of a multi-year strategy. The payoff will be a more health conscious and better informed employee population.

Your HUB advisor can help you identify a vendor to administer the HRA and ensure that your program is in compliance with Federal laws on privacy and discrimination. For example, it is important that HRAs be voluntary and not a requirement for enrollment in the company's health plan

If you are looking for a more structured program that incorporates clinical-based results and intervention, be sure to read our next issue where we'll explore Health & Productivity Management Programs

This is the third installment in an ongoing wellness series by Annette Dowdle, RHU, CCW, offering tips on how to build a better wellness strategy through the development of incentives and the collection of actionable data. Learn more about Annette at