Health risk assessments (HRAs) are an integral part of providing quality care to a patient population. They give healthcare providers information about a patient’s self-perceived health and living situation while also providing individuals in the population an assessment of their risks for chronic diseases. In addition to asking questions about Body Mass Index (BMI), blood pressure, and lifestyle habits such as smoking and exercise, HRAs for the Medicare population must also factor in additional requirements. These requirements exist to ensure that not only does the population understand the questions that they’re answering, but that additional key factors of their overall health and wellbeing are being considered.
Let’s dive into some of these key requirements:
This requirement varies from state to state, but many states require that HRAs be written in language that does not exceed a fourth-grade reading level. By providing content in a manner that’s easy to read and avoids complicated medical terms, the population is able to provide accurate answers to their assessments.
Activities of Daily Living
The Medicare population is unique in that many members of the population may be living alone at a time where it may actually benefit them to have assistance. HRAs aimed at this segment of the population are therefore required to ask questions that help to assess the Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) – such as one’s ability to feed, bathe, and clothe themselves. ADLs are essential and routine functions of everyday life. If an individual has difficulty completing these tasks, then it’s very likely that interventions will need to be recommended.
Instrumental Activities of Daily Living
Similar to the ADLs, the Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs) assess how well an individual is able to function on their own and thrive while completing tasks that affect quality of life. These tasks include things such as doing laundry, cooking, or going grocery shopping. For individuals living on their own, or who have limited day to day assistance, these tasks are key indicators of their ability to do things such as procure food and take medications as directed. Again, if it’s found that there are difficulties completing these tasks, and the appropriate level of assistance is not readily available, interventions will likely be recommended.
Social Determinants of Health
HRAs for Medicare populations should also assess Social Determinants of Health. Social Determinants of Health are conditions that are found in an individual’s environment – the places where they live, work, learn, play, or worship. Additionally, social determinants take into consideration the resources available to an individual. For example, do they have access to affordable, clean, well-kept housing? Is their residence located within a reasonable distance of healthcare facilities or groceries stores? Do they have access to public transportation if needed? Are they able to access resources to support their mental health? All of these factors play a role in the overall health and wellbeing of an individual as they navigate their day to day life.
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