Five Things to Consider When Launching Health Risk Assessments

By Jennifer Forster, MPA
Dec. 3, 2019

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Health risk assessments encourage health promotion — the process of enabling people to increase control over their health and its determinants, and thereby improve their health.

A primary goal of healthcare organizations is to keep their population as healthy as possible. They do this, in part, by asking individuals questions about their health and lifestyle in a survey called a health risk assessment , or HRA. Health plans and providers use the information gathered from health risk assessments to forecast utilization and costs and develop personalized care plans for their members and patients.

Health risk assessments can deliver insightful information to identify and manage risk during those critical initial days of enrollment. If the health risk assessment reveals that members have a chronic condition, need ongoing treatment, or face barriers to care, the plan can immediately transfer them to plan resources. This gives members greater control over their own health and mitigates risk for the plan.

Health risk assessments are valuable for all members, but they are mandatory for Medicaid and dually eligible members. Medicaid plans are required by CMS to make best efforts to complete an initial health risk assessment within 90 days of enrollment.

As you prepare to launch your health risk assessment, here are five best practices to keep in mind:

1. Design the message with the member experience in mind.
Be sure to use appropriate messaging that will resonate with members and motivate them to take action. Keep surveys short to avoid member fatigue and front-load the most important questions.

2. Use a multi-channel approach to reach out.
It’s a good idea to engage members using the communication channels that they prefer. This may be through automated calls, email, text messages, web surveys, or with a live agent. If members are unable to complete the health risk assessment on the phone, follow up using their preferred digital channel. Keep in mind that Medicaid members may move frequently, so mobile phone or text messages may be the best way to reach them.

3. Time it right and make the most out of every interaction.
We recommend reaching out to individuals within 30 days of enrollment with a welcome and onboarding outreach t incorporates the health risk assessment. In fact, HRA completion is about 3% higher, when combined with an onboarding call. It’s also not a bad idea to refresh member-reported health status once a year either. Consider a “welcome back” outreach thanking members for choosing the plan again, provide a benefit update and conduct a mini-HRA to determine if anything has changed.

4. Utilize culturally appropriate content.
If members don’t speak English, strive to reach them in their preferred language. Eliza ensures that member messages are tailored using culturally adapted language. Translations are never simply one-for-one, which can lead to confusing messages and unintended meanings.

5. Follow up with high-risk members in a timely manner.
It’s easy for Eliza to flag member-level responses to health risk assessments and identify who could benefit from immediate intervention, either via a direct transfer to care management or in the form of a care management follow-up list including the best time of day for the member to receive a call from the plan

Health risk assessments are a great way to connect with newly enrolled members. The assessment results enable plans to better serve their members and they enable members to feel more connected to health resources. Plans that leverage technology to deploy these assessments tend to have more success reaching members, analyzing the results, and prioritizing who needs access to plan and community resources immediately.

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