Improving Patient Care with Health Risk Assessments
In recent years, health risk assessments (HRAs) have become more commonplace in healthcare and wellness programs.
Health risk assessments use various tools and tests to evaluate an individual’s overall health to determine the severity of any existing conditions and identify strategies for improving their health.
And while any health risk assessment is better than no health risk assessment, there are certain things HRA administrators can do to further improve their HRAs, such as adding additional screenings, ensuring HEDIS compliance, investing in the newest health risk assessment tools, and more.
We’ll go in-depth with each of these strategies and more in this guide to improving patient care with health risk assessments.
The Importance of HRAs
Health risk assessments (HRAs) are tools used to evaluate an individual’s overall health status and identify any potential health risks. The purpose of an HRA is to provide an individual with a comprehensive overview of their current health status and identify areas where changes or improvements could be made to promote better health and reduce the risk of developing chronic conditions.
HRAs are commonly used by employers to promote employee health and wellness, and may also be conducted by healthcare providers to assist in the development of a personalized treatment or preventive care plan. The results of an HRA can be used to develop a customized action plan to address identified health risks, including recommendations for lifestyle changes, preventive screenings, and other interventions.
Improving Health Outcomes with HRAs
Health risk assessments are performed to get a more holistic idea of a patient’s well-being and risk factors. This can lead to a variety of improvements in health outcomes, such as:
- Personalized care plans HRAs can provide healthcare providers with valuable information about a patient’s health status and risk factors, which can be used to develop personalized care plans that address specific health needs and goals, and encourage changes in behavior and environment to mitigate risk.
- Early detection: HRAs can identify potential health risks early on, allowing for intervention and treatment sooner. This can help to prevent or manage a patient’s chronic conditions and reduce the likelihood of complications or serious health events.
- Improved patient engagement: HRAs can also improve patient engagement by encouraging individuals to take an active role in their own health and wellness. By providing patients with information about their health status and potential health risks, HRAs can empower individuals to make informed decisions and take steps to improve their overall health and well-being.
- Better assessment strategy: Using data from HRAs as part of your overall assessment strategy can help you identify high-risk conditions within certain populations and thus reduce rates across the board.
Overall, HRAs play an important role in improving patient outcomes by providing healthcare providers with valuable information about a patient’s health status, identifying potential health risks, and guiding the development of personalized care plans. This can all help to improve health outcomes and reduce the risk of developing chronic conditions while reducing treatment costs associated with certain diseases or conditions. Thanks to this additional health information, HRAs can target interventions at individuals who are most susceptible to developing diseases, which can also boost HEDIS compliance.
Technologies That Support HRA Integration
While HRAs often involve surveys asking a patient about their medical history, there are a number of technologies that can bolster the efficacy of HRAs and support their integration into the broader health and well-being program. These include:
- Electronic Health Records (EHRs): EHRs provide a centralized, electronic repository for patient health information and can be used to store and access HRA data. This allows healthcare providers to easily access and use HRA results when making clinical decisions.
- Health risk assessment software: HRA software allows people to self-report their health data, including weight, blood pressure, smoking status, alcohol intake, physical activity levels, and other parameters (e.g., diet).
- Health Information Exchanges (HIEs): HIEs facilitate the exchange of health information between different healthcare providers, allowing HRA data to be shared and used by multiple providers to improve care coordination and continuity.
- Telemedicine platforms: Telemedicine platforms can be used to conduct HRAs remotely, allowing individuals to complete assessments from the comfort of their own homes and reducing the need for in-person visits.
- Mobile health (mHealth) apps: mHealth apps can be used to deliver HRAs directly to individuals via their smartphones or other mobile devices. This can help to increase patient engagement and make HRAs more accessible and convenient.
- Wearable devices: Devices such as FitBits or Apple Watches help individuals track their physical activity levels throughout the day or night.
It is important to also consider several other factors when looking to invest in a health risk assessment tool:
- Data/reporting quality: For example, the diabetic eye exam images captured using fundus photography need to be gradable. If they cannot be graded by an eye specialist, such as the IRIS reading center (IRC), it wastes both time and money, since the patient cannot receive their results or any follow-up treatment, leading to no further closure of care gaps.
- HRA equipment: Hardware sometimes needs to be convenient to transport, as payors and telemedicine companies have thousands of field specialists and technicians who are going to patients’ homes and administering exams. For example, specs for retinal imaging machines and fundus cameras need to be heavily considered before a purchase is made.
- Partnerships: Training programs, ongoing support, etc. are huge for health risk assessments, especially as there is typically a high turnover rate for those who administer exams. Things like healthcare conferences and Medicare preventive services can help boost the efficacy of health risk assessments by providing ongoing education and support.
How Adding IRIS to Health Risk Assessments Can Help Improve Patient Outcomes
IRIS is a software solution that adds value to health risk assessments by streamlining the process of diabetic retinopathy exams.
With IRIS, diabetic retinopathy exams can be performed either in a patient’s home or at a primary care provider, instead of just at an eye specialist’s office. After the fundus photo is captured, the image is enhanced and sent digitally to the IRIS Reading Center (IRC), where it is examined by one of our 125 board-certified retina specialists and/or ophthalmologists. The results are then sent back directly to the provider’s EHR.
IRIS works with its partners to build a system that can live within a payor or telemedicine company’s non-standardized software approach to make it easier to receive this data and then send it to their customers. IRIS offers training in using fundus cameras, as well as a host of resources and ongoing support.
Incorporating the IRIS (Intelligent Retinal Imaging Systems) retinal screening solution into health risk assessments can help improve patient outcomes in several ways:
- Early detection of eye diseases: IRIS retinal screening allows for early detection of eye diseases, such as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and age-related macular degeneration. Early detection of these diseases can improve the chances of successful treatment and prevent vision loss.
- Better utilization of healthcare resources: By incorporating IRIS retinal screening into HRAs, healthcare providers can more effectively target their resources and prioritize the care of individuals who are at high risk for eye diseases.
- Increased patient engagement: IRIS can help increase patient engagement by providing them with retinal screenings that can be performed either at home or by their primary care provider. This makes it more convenient for patients to get preventive testing, which means diseases such as diabetic retinopathy could be caught before it threatens the sight of a patient.
Overall, adding the IRIS solution to health risk assessments can improve patient outcomes by increasing the number of patients getting crucial preventive screenings, which can lead to better management of chronic conditions. This better utilizes healthcare resources and lowers costs in doing so.
Any healthcare institution, whether in a patient’s home or at a healthcare practice, can use the IRIS platform to capture fundus photos which are then enhanced, and diagnosed for diabetic retinopathy by a licensed professional within two business days.
How can an HRA improve population health?
HRAs can improve population health by identifying health risks, helping to promote health behaviors, improving access to care, and reducing healthcare costs.
By leveraging the results of HRAs and incorporating these findings into public health programs and initiatives, healthcare providers and public health organizations can work to improve health outcomes and promote healthier communities.
How can an HRA contribute to a culture of health?
Health risk assessments can contribute to a culture of health by promoting a proactive and preventative approach to health and wellness, encouraging healthy community initiatives, health literacy, and individual responsibility to take care of one’s health.
What are the 5 things a risk assessment should include?
To be effective, health risk assessments should include the five following key components:
- Personal and family medical history
- Lifestyle and behavioral factors
- Biometric data
- Health screenings
- Health risk factors
Why are health risk assessments important?
Health risk assessments are important for a multitude of reasons, including improving early detection of health problems, personalized health information, patient outcomes, utilization of healthcare resources, and support for public health initiatives.
Health risk assessments are an important part of a comprehensive wellness program. They help identify health risks, reduce these risks by encouraging healthy behaviors, and provide employers with valuable data on current health status. The IRIS solution, along with other healthcare technologies, adds more power to health risk assessments by making important preventive tests easier to perform.
When integrated into a broader health and well-being program that includes other interventions such as biometric screenings (retinal screenings) and medical evaluations, health risk assessments can help improve overall health outcomes. By utilizing the information in this blog and adding to your health risk assessment tools, medical practices, payors, and other healthcare organizations can close patient gaps and reduce their costs.
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