Keeping track of your health in the long-term can be difficult if you don’t have a way to measure your risks. Habits and behaviors such as poor diet, smoking, and lack of exercise are factors that increase an individual’s risks of premature death or getting sick, however, the knowledge that these risks exist does not always make people change their behavior. You need to be able to know which risks need your urgent attention, and an easy way to do that is by undergoing regular Health Risk Assessments (HRAs).
Some of the things an HRA might look at include an individual’s health habits about physical activity, UV exposure, chronic conditions, alcohol consumption, biometric measures, their total cholesterol level, HDL (High Density Lipoprotein), LDL cholesterol, Blood Pressure, last checkup, date of last vaccinations, and date of latest cancer screenings. They have three basic sections:
- Questionnaire: You are presented with questions comprising the Health Risk Assessment.
- Risk Computation: The answers in the questionnaire will then be compared with the data collected from the greater population. Disease precursors are then matched with individual risk factors and are given numerical “relative risk” to indicate the amount of the precursor’s contribution to the disease.
- Customized Risk Reports and Educational Messages: Risk reports are based on the individual’s statistics matched with the data of the similar population group. After which a summary of the individual’s health risk is presented with recommended lifestyle behaviors and suggestions of ways to reduce the risk.
HRAs are a great way to manage employee health and improve productivity in life and in the workplace. Some more of the many benefits of HRAs are that they:
- Provide employees with a snapshot of their current health status
- Have the potential to monitor individual health status over time
- Provide employees with concrete information that will prepare them them for lifestyle changes
- Help individuals get involved with health coaching
- Provide information concerning employees’ readiness to change
- Help employers measure and monitor population health status
- Help build results-oriented health promotion programs
- Provide employers with important information on productivity
- Allow employers to evaluate changes in health behavior and health risks over time
- Engage both employers and employees in the health management process
Being able to see what health risks are common would help employers incorporate necessary interventions, which would hopefully decrease those risks over time and make them easier to monitor. In the end, HRAs play a critical role in bridging the gap between employer, employee, and the healthcare system as they make sure that health information moves beyond the employer and the employee toward positive action.