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What is a Health Risk Assessment?
A health risk assessment (HRA), also known as a health risk appraisal, is a questionnaire that evaluates lifestyle factors and health risks of an individual. Questions in an HRA cover topics such as nutrition, fitness, stress, sleep, mental health, and biometric information such as blood pressure and cholesterol. An HRA will help population health professionals identify risk of chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity. Health risk assessments are widely distributed among workforce and health plan populations.
Typically, an HRA includes:
Question section
Risk score
Report with feedback on areas of improvement

Health Risk Assessment Background
WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF HEALTH RISK ASSESSMENTS?
The origin of the health risk assessment can be traced all the way back to the late 1940s, when Dr. Lewis C. Robbins (link opens as PDF) began to document patients' health hazards in an effort to not only treat disease but also prevent it. For the next 20 years the idea of a health hazard chart for physicians' use progressed to a complete health risk assessment including a patient questionnaire, health risk computation, and feedback strategies.

This concept was featured in Robbins' (along with Dr. Jack Hall) 1970 guide for physicians, How to Practice Prospective Medicine.

In 1979 our very own Dr. Don Hall (no relation to Jack Hall) created the first computerized health risk appraisal in the U.S. The following year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released publicly available HRA software that included a self-administered survey to calculate adult health risk. This led to widespread use of health assessments in the workplace.

DO HRAS INCREASE ENGAGEMENT?
Successful wellness interventions are not, and should not be, an out-of-the box solution. Each population is unique and has its own specific needs. But a health risk assessment is a key element to engagement.

When wellness and population health managers understand their participants, they are better able to design personalized wellness solutions and interventions that will resonate with their participants. Some of the areas a health risk assessment exposes to help population health managers understand their populations include:

Health habits
Risks for chronic disease
Influencers affecting well-being
Motivations to make changes for better health
Readiness to change

Here's an example: A Medicare member takes a health risk assessment. The HRA data shows that the individual has poor nutrition, gets most of their food from convenience stores, and indicates that distance to a store is a key factor for food choices. The member also has mobility issues. Zip code data shows that the member lives in a food desert.

A case worker could help the individual identify healthy foods, arrange for meal delivery, and connect with the local adult community center's bus service for lunches. As a result, the individual begins eating better. Concurrently, a population health manager could work on an action plan with community leaders, exploring strategies such as a community garden. The convenience store owner could be encouraged to stock healthy food options.

In addition, the reporting that may be generated upon HRA completion tells the member where they are doing well, and where improvement is needed. It points out specific habits and practices connected to best health - and why it matters. The member sees the value in eating more vegetables and choosing healthier meat options.

WHY INCORPORATE AN HRA INTO A WELLNESS PROGRAM?
Employee wellness

The gateway to every successful wellness program is completion of a health risk assessment. Unfocused wellness programs have little or no long-term impact. The health risk assessment helps wellness professionals collect critical data that will inform and drive wellness initiatives, such as:

The biggest health risks among their population
Areas that participants are most willing to change
The impact of wellness program efforts over time
Administrative reports enable wellness program managers to identify priority health issues, set internal benchmarks, create wellness programming goals, select appropriate interventions, and evaluate the wellness program's impact on their population's health. Program administrators should be able to access aggregate reports or raw data 24/7 to create their own reports and evaluate improvement trends over time. Participants also get useful information from taking an HRA. They become more aware of their health risks, and learn to become proactive about their health to prevent long-term health problems or improve current conditions.


Population health management

The health risk assessment is a critical tool for population health management. Robust HRAs identify lifestyle risk factors and an individual's readiness to change. Combining HRA data into an electronic health record (EHR) with home care notes, social determinants of health, behavioral health information, prescription drug monitoring programs, genomics, and outcome studies can help population health managers implement relevant preventive actions that can intercept future health problems and that helps health plans save money.

Population health managers and key players in their organization choose the delivery methods for the health risk assessment, as well as the level of integration into their organization's IT infrastructure. Assessment data can be viewed in aggregate, or filtered for a variety of factors such as change readiness. The raw data can also be analyzed in detail, accessed via the customer-specific administrative center or by incorporating the data into their organization's internal system.
Integration and Delivery
WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO DELIVER AN HRA?
Health risk assessments can be delivered online, distributed as a paper assessment, or administered telephonically. Telephonic assessments are useful for individuals with severe vision or language challenges, while paper assessments benefit individuals who don't have access to computers or smartphones. Online delivery is the most convenient and flexible option for most organizations and participants. HRAs that are delivered online give wellness and population health managers immediate access to as much of the HRA data as they choose, whether in detail or in aggregate. Individuals can take the HRA anywhere, at any time. An online health risk assessment should be optimized for use on any screen - smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop – and have a built-in timeout to protect privacy.

WHAT INTEGRATION OPTIONS ARE AVAILABLE FOR HRAS?
Although some health risk assessments can be used as a stand-alone tool with a vendor-provided login page, many customers choose to integrate the HRA into their portal, platform, or internal website.

Assessment data can be accessed via a stand-alone administrative center unique to their organization, pulled into an electronic health record (EHR) system, or integrated into the organization's internal IT infrastructure.

Health risk assessments can be integrated in several ways using application program interface (API) protocols and procedures. APIs are a "computer language" that allows different software applications to talk with each other. These include web services, single sign on (SSO), and client notifications and alerts.


Looser integration
A health risk assessment can be integrated loosely, such as using SSO to direct individuals from an organization's intranet or patient portal to the online portal that delivers the HRA. A specific API eliminates the requirement for a participant login, since the individual is already vetted through their organization's own login method. Once the individual moves to the HRA provider's portal, the user experience (UX) is determined by the HRA provider's design.

The HRA portal often includes an administrative portal for participant management. In this scenario, the wellness or population health manager would access HRA data, either in aggregate or personally identifiable detail, through the HRA provider's system.


Tighter integration
Organizations can also choose to integrate the health risk assessment into their own portal. In this case, the user experience is largely determined by the organization. The only outsourced user experience (UX) is the HRA itself. The tighter the integration, the more control an organization has over the process. For example, a wellness or population health manager who chooses the tightest integration will manage all aspects of participant communication, reporting, and data analysis.

The type of API available for use is based on the kind of integration selected at the time the health risk assessment is deployed. Any HRA integration should include a comprehensive, fully documented web service integration guide for customers who choose these options.


Here are 10 reasons to outsource an HRA.


WHY DO WELLNESS AND POPULATION HEALTH MANAGERS CHOOSE TO INTEGRATE HRA DATA INTO AN INTERNAL SYSTEM OR ELECTRONIC HEALTH RECORD (EHR)?
Looking at an individual's current health habits alongside social determinants of health, readiness to change, and current health screenings can help wellness and population health managers more closely match individuals to interventions that will have the best results. Combining health risk assessment data with other distinct bits of data—such as claims data and genetics - paves the way for more efficient data analysis and can improve outcomes.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO INTEGRATE AN HRA INTO A PORTAL, PLATFORM, OR INTERNAL WEBSITE?
The level of integration and the availability of an organization's information technology (IT) team will determine how quickly a health risk assessment can be deployed. Some HRAs are delivered as stand-alone applications that can be launched within days. Wellness program coordinators and population health managers should allow extra time for integration features. This will require consultation with development and IT personnel at their organizations.

DO INTEGRATED HRAS RESULT IN HIGHER PARTICIPATION?
Integration reduces roadblocks to health risk assessment completion. A health risk assessment that fits seamlessly within an organization's intranet or wellness portal provides an undisrupted user experience. Make someone login twice, for example, and you've decreased your chances the individual will start the HRA, no matter how well designed the health risk assessment might be.

Additionally, it is important to know your population and the level of integration that will give them the greatest confidence that their personal information is confidential and secure.

All health risk assessments are bound by privacy and security regulations. However, integration is especially helpful when dealing with individuals who might have reservations taking an HRA that appears to be from a third party they don't know and trust. Some members could have greater confidence answering personal or sensitive questions when an HRA fits seamlessly with a health plan’s website or portal, for example. On the other hand, an employee could be more inclined to take an HRA that is obviously offered by a third party.

The health risk assessment delivery method is only one component of participation. connect

One study found that incentive value, company wellness culture, and a strong communication strategy also had significant impact on participation rates. Of these, incentive value had the strongest influence. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) recommends increasing participation by using incentives, making the health risk assessment available on intranet pages, and having it grab their attention and be easy to use.
Connect To Caregiver
Many patients require some level of assistance from family members. Our connect-to-caregiver program keeps the caregiver in constant contact with the patient and health care providers to ensure patient quality of care with minimal interruptions. Now the trusted caregiver is always in sync with patient and provider.

What is (EOB) Eligibility of benefits?
Verdure's EOB is an efficient, and comprehensive way for health care providers to verify patient insurance giving the patient an opportunity to schedule appointments most fit their schedules and budgets.
Fear of mailbox syndrome

Other EDI offerings below
Claims submissions
Direct Data Entry(DDE)
Claims scrubbing
Prior Authorizations

You might think that eligibility of benefits and verification of patient insurance coverage is one in the same, but there are some key differences. When you go through verification of patient insurance coverage, what you essentially want is the status of the patient or dependent in regards to the policy in question. If they are active with the policy, then that means that the insurance will cover the patient for as long as he or she is paying premiums. In order for a patient's medical claims to be covered by the insurance company, the patient not only must be active, but the service also must be a benefit that is covered. When you check the eligibility of benefits, you are seeing that the patient is covered for certain services, in addition to how much that the insurance companies will pay for these services. The eligibility of benefits is considered to be more crucial than the verification of patient insurance coverage, solely because the insurance provider may not pay for the cost of specific services, even if the patient is of active status. Insurance verifications services are responsible for determining how much money is owed for each type of service used, as well as who is responsible for paying what.

If a doctor utilizes a service that is not covered, the insurance provider will not pay for it; they will leave it to the patient to instead. It does not matter whether or not a patient is active, being a part of an insurance plan does not guarantee that all medical expenses will be covered. This is important for the insurance verifications service, because they need to explain to the patient how they have to foot their own medical bill and why, in addition to how much they owe, of course. Most patients are do not understand why their insurance will not cover their medical costs, and thus often refuse to pay. It is crucial that when a patient verifies coverage, that they also verify their benefits, to ensure that what they owe the hospital is going to be covered by the insurance provider. Thankfully, a patient has the chance to verify his or her benefits when he or she verifies his or her insurance coverage. On the day of the visit, the patients and the physician both need to know on the day of the appointment or visit, which services are covered. If a patient is going to a doctor because he or she is sick, they need verification on benefits involving illness.

Many medical facilities have forms to verify a patient's benefits, in which a patient can list his or her known services that will be paid for by his or her insurance provider. This will be handy for patients and physicians to know what expenses will be paid for on a patient's next visit in the foreseeable future, and will be more convenient than asking an insurance provider representative over the phone about what they can cover on the day of the next hospital visit. Depending on the services performed, the responsibility of the patient's own expenses may change. For instance, hospitals require a copayment for visits involving illness related inquiries, while copayments are not required for visits involving physical examinations. Not every insurance policy is the same, and coverage, expenses, and services may vary from patient to patient, so this is why the verification of benefits, in addition to the verification of patient insurance coverage is so crucial before checking in to a medical facility.
Annual Wellness Visits
WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF HEALTH RISK ASSESSMENTS?