Health Assessments: Engaging in Your Health
Individuals that sit at their desk day after day for long periods of time have a higher risk for a variety of health issues. And as most teachers and employers frown on mind-body movement exercises at your desk, push-ups during class or jumping jacks during meetings, it can be difficult to balance fitness and your schedule.
Health risk assessments (HRA) are becoming a popular way to make the general population more aware of their habits and empower them to make positive choices about their health.
Some of you may be familiar with health risk assessments. Many employers are offering this tool to assist individuals with their overall health goals. However, your insurance carrier may also offer the tool as an additional benefit.
What is an HRA?
This doesn’t mean no more birthday cake at work or a no more dessert line at the cafeteria. HRAs are simply an instrument used to collect health information. Alone, an HRA can do little to improve someone’s health. But, as part of a broader program to engage individuals in their health, lifestyle choices, and preventive health care needs, HRAs can be tremendously effective. Most commonly, HRAs are combined with biometric testing to assess an individual’s health status, risks and habits. Biometric testing commonly includes height, weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar assessments.
The HRA is really an essential first step in getting your health needs under control. It gives you information about the kinds of services or support you may need, so you can avoid bigger problems down the road. Half the battle is diagnosing a potential disease and matching someone with programs that can help them. For example, diabetes management programs don’t do you any good if you aren’t enrolled in it.
Motivation to Take Action
There is increasing evidence that shows to be most effective HRAs should include health coaching (face-to-face, telephonic, and/or online) to reinforce healthful behavior change. One of the reasons HRA programs don’t work is because so many people aren’t being appropriately screened for various conditions. For instance, diseases like diabetes and cancer are often diagnosed later, which tends to cause more problems both emotionally and physically in addition to raising the cost of care.
The primary goals of the HRA are to:
- Raise your awareness about the association between health practices, the work or home environment, and future health problems.
- Assess health issues (e.g., job, home, social, physical or financial stress).
- Motivate you to seek appropriate interventions and reinforce progress through follow-up assessments.
- Serve as a benchmarking, planning, and evaluation tool.
The best way to improve health is to engage in knowing your current strengths and weakness. Completing a HRA and getting your biometric data is a wonderful first start on that journey.
Good luck and good health!