Health Risk Assessments (HRAs) have been used by employers for three decades as a key component of corporate wellness programs. An HRA allows an employer to collect meaningful data on the health status of their employees, and by stratifying the employee population into risk groups, provide targeted wellness programming. Together with onsite biometric screenings, the data from an employee health assessment serves as a baseline that allows an employer to know whether their investments in wellness are making any difference.

"We made critical observations about what works – and does not work – with traditional HRAs"

At beBetter Health, we've used HRAs with over 1,000 worksites. In the process, we made some critical observations about what works – and does not work – with these assessment tools. We took the lessons we learned, and the feedback from our clients, and used it to create what we believe is the best next-generation integrated HRA in the industry.

The Problem with Traditional HRAs

There are a lot of health assessment tools out there. In the past, we've used many of them ourselves as part of beBetter's services. But we found that most of them suffer from a number of significant flaws. First, most HRAs ask questions across a broad range of topics, asking questions about everything from sun protection to commuter miles. Most companies are not able to do anything with much of this data, and a lengthy HRA only frustrates the employee completing it. Bombarding the employee with a slew of unrelated health messages after they complete their HRA is no help either.

There's a bigger problem. Traditional HRAs are very shallow in the most important topic areas: the core areas of physical activity, nutrition, weight, and smoking. These are the areas where a company can make the biggest impact on the health of their employees. A typical HRA does not drill down deep enough into those core areas to uncover meaningful information that can be used in wellness programs and services throughout the year. From the employee's perspective, nothing "connects the dots" between their HRA and the rest of the wellness programs they receive later. The HRA is almost completely disconnected.

Further, traditional HRAs generate risk scores based on a long-term horizon and have limited ability to differentiate between small behavioral changes from one year to the next. This can be demoralizing for employees who are making important progress but do not receive positive feedback. No wonder that some companies feel they don't get enough value from their HRA, and may even consider dropping it altogether.

All of this is the exact opposite of what an HRA should do.

Why Our HRA is Different

Taking these observations into account, we developed our HRA – which we think of as an action survey – by drawing on our extensive health assessment and coaching experience. In short, our new HRA asks the same types of questions that a coach would ask when identifying ways to help an employee set goals and overcome barriers. As that employee connects with our programs and services, we already have tremendously useful background information that will jumpstart the conversation and give a far more meaningful interaction. This deeply integrated approach to wellness is what sets us apart.

Take smoking as an example. Most HRAs ask just a few questions, such as “Do you smoke?”, “What do you smoke?”, and “How often do you smoke?”. That’s not enough information to drive behavior change, to help a person quit smoking. In contrast, beBetter’s HRA asks questions that uncover the smoker's environment, supports, addiction level, readiness to change, and a host of other factors.

Armed with such information, the beBetter coaches can now engage in a deeply meaningful dialog with the employee from the very first call. As the employee makes important progress in the core areas, their score goes up – an important driver of motivation and engagement.

For us, the HRA is an entry point into an annual wellness program that seeks to push a person forward, a little at a time, in the most important areas. Our HRA is the beginning of the program itself.

Simple and Bilingual

The beBetter HRA, participant report, and action steps are all written at or below a 6th-grade level. Our HRA is also available in Spanish, which is accessed from the same web address, so you can give all of your employees the same set of instructions. For Spanish speakers, everything about the process and content is the same.

What did it take to build all this? We used experts in the areas of health promotion, behavioral science, medicine, education, technology, and user interface design. Collectively, the team brought over one hundred years’ experience in all aspects of HRA development, utilization, evaluation, and reporting to the task of creating a next-generation solution.

We call it “A New Way to HRA.”

Contact us for a demo or to find out more.