Ninety percent of the estimated $3.3 trillion spent on healthcare in the United States each year is spent on chronic health problems and mental illness. Most of these chronic health problems can be prevented and managed through lifestyle changes. Health risk assessments are the number one tool that helps to uncover these health problems and subsequently offer solutions on the next steps an employee can take to keep these conditions at bay. Thus, it is important to invest in quality health risk assessment (HRA) tools if you want to avoid this expensive problem. Are free health risk assessments worth it for your company and employees?
Based on what it takes to manage chronic health problems, the answer is no.
In this post, we will go into detail about why your company should avoid free health risk assessments if you want your employees to get the best out of the experience; and if you want to reduce healthcare costs.
Why Free Health Risk Assessments Are Not Better
Incomplete assessments – Several free health risk assessment tools are incomplete. We have even seen a number of them that are simple quizzes which don’t ask the relevant questions. In order for a health risk assessment to be effective, the questions need to uncover pertinent pieces of information; and a lot of the free health risk assessments on the market miss this. Incomplete and inaccurate data is useless in helping employees discover their risk for health issues so they can get the needed care.
Free health risk assessments are not customizable – Another reason to avoid free health risk assessment tools, is because they are not customized. Beyond asking the right questions to ascertain health risks, it is important that the assessment suggests a course of action that is customized to your employee. An individualized plan for employee wellness is of great value if you’re in fact passionate about having healthy employees.
A free assessment may not take into account medical history – Because most free health risk assessment tools are quick, medical history is never taken into account. Again, this ties into the customization point we raised above. Facts about family medical history and individual medical history plays a vital role when it comes to designing a plan of action for the person taking the assessment. Without this data, the suggestions following the free assessment will most likely be incorrect and at worst, useless.
Employer customizations are not possible with free risk assessments – One of the features of our own health risk assessment tool is that as an employer, you can add an unlimited number of questions to your to questionnaire. A free health risk assessment tool has preset questions and will not give you that luxury.
Free assessments may not be HIPAA-compliant – Recent data breaches in the news highlight the important of protecting the data of consumers – this includes your employees. Free HRAs may not always give you that added comfort of being secure and HIPAA-complaint.
You get a sample but not the real deal – And then last but not least, free health risk assessments are a sample and are never the real deal you’re looking for to benefit your employees. Because it takes time and money to develop these tools, a free version of the tool is always a truncated form of what you would get if you got the full software.
With that being said, here’s what you should look for when you are making a decision on a good health risk assessment tool.
A thorough health risk assessment tool will gather information on:
- Personal medical history.
- Family medical history.
- Demographic information. This is especially important because there are specific groups of people who are prone to one health condition over the other.
- Habits and lifestyle choices. A good health risk assessment should be able to gather information on smoking, alcohol use, exercise, sexual behavior, etc., in order to make the right suggestions.
- Environmental risk factors. Examples of these would include whether an employee lives with a smoker or in a building that used harmful building materials that did not use to be regulated.
- Employee readiness and confidence to change lifestyle behaviors that have negative outcomes on their health.
- Last but not least, a good HRA will provide feedback on preventative changes that employees need to implement in order to reverse the risk of illnesses later on.
A free HRA is likely not include all this information. This is why your company will want to reconsider using a free health risk assessment tool.