Why implement an employee-centered health risk assessment? Chronic illnesses account for 83% of all health spending, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most of these chronic diseases are caused by modifiable habits. And yet, the rates of chronic illness continue to rise. Even though we spend trillions of dollars on health care each year in the United States, many people don’t receive preventive care and follow-up treatments.
Some people don’t even know they are at risk for or already have these illnesses. For instance, more than a fifth of adults with hypertension did not know they had the condition. This information is very troubling and is likely costing your company a lot of money.
One of the ways to mitigate this epidemic is for employers to implement health risk assessments as part of their employee wellness programs.
But this is always great in theory but difficult to implement and even have employees follow up. So what can you do as an employer to ensure that that your company implements effective employee-centered health risk assessments?
In this post, we will share research-backed methods for implementing an employee-centered health risk assessment that helps employees, can reduce the rate of chronic illness and ultimately reduce how much we spend on healthcare.
What the research shows about Employee-Centered Health Risk Assessment
It’s important to understand that an effective health risk assessment can help employees at three levels.
- Primary prevention – These are interventions that will avert disease
- Secondary prevention – These are interventions to detect the disease early and intervene
- Tertiary prevention – These interventions will help people manage the condition properly.
Here are five research-backed recommendations that your company can use to administer effective health risk assessments that promote health for your employees.
Keep it short and focused
If you want people to participate in a health risk assessment, the assessment itself should be kept short. It can go for a little bit longer if there are problem areas detected but generally, keeping the assessment to 10-20 minutes will encourage more participation.
In the same vein, it’s important to keep the assessment focused and prioritized with the most relevant questions.
This will make things less confusing for healthcare providers so they can tackle the biggest health concerns for your employee when they follow up on the results.
Make the health risk assessment person-centered and culturally appropriate
Chances are you have a culturally diverse population of employees. It’s important to take those cultural differences into consideration when creating an effective health risk assessment. This may seem difficult especially if you have a lot of employees but it can be executed in a number of ways.
For instance, questions that ask employees about cultural practices and foods might be helpful in helping healthcare providers determine how those may play a role in a chronic illness. Or even how an individual can use those cultural practices to their advantage in managing the disease.
An effective health risk assessment should also take disabilities into consideration
If you administer your company’s health risk assessment on a computer, have you considered if the assessment is accessible to people with varied disabilities? Based on research, people are more likely to participate in a health risk assessment and follow up if the assessment is fully accessible to them.
Thus for people with low vision or who are blind, using Braille or an audio-administered health risk assessment might could increase participation. For people with cognitive disorders, they may require extra help to complete a health risk assessment and if this is the case, then they should receive that help too.
Health Risk Assessments online
Needless to say one of the biggest innovations of our time is the internet. For certain age demographics, companies will see a dramatic increase in employee participation if they use online health risk assessments.
Employees who fill out your company’s questionnaire online can be directed immediately to health resources on the internet that could have implementing solutions to potential problems before they might even schedule a follow-up visit with the doctor.
An added advantage here is that these online health risk assessments can be shared with the doctor’s office immediately for them to review before the patient even schedules an appointment.
Health risk assessments online can therefore increase employee participation and the efficiency of follow up efforts by doctors.
Involve employees in the decision-making process for health risk assessments
Health is an important aspect of your employees’ lives. It also affects how productive your company is in any given year. Involving your employees in how the health risk assessment is designed and administered will help you achieve both goals.
Find out from employees how they want the health risk assessment delivered. If most of your employees are millennials, it is likely they might be less motivated to fill out a paper-based health risk assessment versus if it was an online app.
Certain questions on the questionnaire itself may not be relevant to most of the people in your company. In this case, you would need their input to tailor the questions and make them more relevant. Your employees might even have an opinion on how their health data is shared with a company doctor for follow up.
Involving your employees in the decision-making process surrounding health risk assessments will increase its’ effectiveness for your company.