What is a Health Risk Assessment?

health risk assessment

A health risk assessment (HRA) is a survey or questionnaire used to collect relevant information about the health status and health risk factors of an individual or population.  HRAs typically evaluate the following information: 

  • – Demographics
  • – Biometrics
  • – Personal and family medical history
  • – Lifestyle
  • – Nutrition
  • – Diet and exercise
  • – Self-perceived health status
  • – Willingness to change

Though the health risk assessment earned its rightful place as the cornerstone of corporate wellness many years ago, like many established tools and technologies, it is often overlooked in favor of its newer, flashier, and more exciting counterparts like social feeds and gamified challenges.  Administrators often adopt a “set it and forget it” mentality with health risk assessments, and neglect to consider the way that health risk assessment data should be used to shape their entire wellness program. 

Why Should I Implement a Health Risk Assessment? 

A health/wellness administrator should implement a health risk assessment in order gain a clear understanding of their population’s evolving health status and health risks—so that those risks can be addressed in a meaningful, targeted, and impactful way.

Would you start taking medication without first considering your symptoms?  Would you start building a house without first considering a blueprint?  If not, then you shouldn’t begin to roll out your corporate wellness program without first considering your aggregated health risk assessment data.  

A health risk assessment is a powerful screening tool, and perhaps the most widely utilized tool in the world of health and wellness promotion.  It is often the first component of a wellness program to be introduced, and for good reason: a health risk assessment can highlight the areas of concern that the rest of a wellness program should be structured to address. Health risk assessments use proprietary algorithms to analyze and interpret questionnaire data so that decisions can be made to address any potential health risk factors and deliver targeted interventions.  Some health risk assessments will even go so far as to suggest diseases or conditions for population health managers to target, or to highlight the best ROI opportunities in a given population.

On the participant’s side, the output of a health risk assessment generally consists of a health management rating or score, and a breakdown of the risk factors and lifestyle variables that contribute to an individual’s risk for disease.  More advanced health risk assessments also present a user with a plan for wellness and often include tips and goals to help them improve their health status, and decrease their risk for disease.

For administrators, a health risk assessment will provide HIPAA-compliant aggregate reporting about the health status and collective health risks of the entire population.  Such reporting is generally stratified along a number of variables and is available 24/7/365.

Be sure that any Health Risk Assessment you choose to license is HIPAA and GINA compliant—and remember that the best-in-class health risk assessments will always be HITRUST and NCQA certified.  If you wish to improve population health, decrease absenteeism, and reduce medical expenses, there is no better place to start than a health risk assessment.

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