There’s a key to identifying the health risks of your population, creating impactful health and wellness programs, and increasing engagement: data collection. Sounds simple, right? But as we’ve learned, collecting data is the easy part. Analyzing it, understanding it, and using it to hit goals is a little harder—and a lot more important.
Recently our Brand Manager, Erin Pratuch, had the privilege of hosting a webinar with Brad Awalt from Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) about the importance of using HRA data to develop more impactful wellness programs —and how benchmark data helps VUMC know how they stack up against their peers. They discussed how data—when used correctly—can prove an organization’s ROI, measure program success, and help create data-driven approaches to wellness programs.
The Importance of Benchmark Data
But first, a little background: what is benchmark data, and how is it useful?
Simply, benchmark data gives a baseline so organizations can see how they compare to similar groups in their industry.
According to James Bennett, Wellsource Director of Client Services, “our clients wanted a better sense of where they stacked up compared to their peers. There are national and even regional standards that are always a good starting point but are often too broad.”
This led us to create our own report using data from Wellcomplete® HRAs about health awareness and health intervention programs. Our partners and clients use this report as a resource for measuring the success of their programs, identifying any shortfalls, and advocating for funds.
Here are a few of the most noteworthy takeaways from our webinar.
Key Takeaway #1: Data-driven programs are more successful because they pinpoint areas that need development and provide an organization with actionable steps.
We know as well as anyone that social determinants of health can vary wildly across demographics, which means there is no perfect system for the health of an entire population. But that doesn’t mean figuring out where to focus your attention and resources isn’t vital to your program’s success—because it is.
Looking at industry breakouts within our benchmark report makes it easy to see clear differences so organizations can create programs that will be most impactful for their specific population.
Brad Awalt (MS-ACSM), Manager of Health Plus at VUMC, used this data to develop a diabetes prevention program.
“We compare these health conditions to those national standards, allowing us to set goals for where we want to be in our numbers. In looking at that data, we decided we really needed a weight loss program. We have ways that we can identify people’s risk of developing diabetes, and then we can target them with our program and try to get them enrolled…and it’s worked really well.”
Key Takeaway #2: Benchmark data helps organizations focus their attention according to the population’s self-professed needs.
We also know data can indicate an area of concern for a population that may not be ready to change potentially harmful behavior—and that’s okay!
Program participation and compliance is stronger when the target audience is open to change. If not, the organization then knows to use its resources in other areas and potentially create a domino effect of healthy habits.
“Factoring in the population’s readiness in those areas is something else you might want to do. They may not actually be ready to make a change in their nutrition, so that might not be where you want to focus,” Bennett suggested. “There might be somewhere else where you’re comparing your data—like physical activity—and that might be an area where the population is ready to make a change.”
And who better to tell you where to focus your attention and resources than the people themselves? Wellcomplete® HRAs include simple follow-up questions asking if the respondent feels ready to change. Depending on the data, organizations can tailor their programs to be the most effective for their particular population.
Takeaway #3: Benchmark data shows clear trends over time, giving decision-makers the ability to make more informed decisions.
Things all health organizations agree are pivotal to lifelong health—like quitting tobacco usage and developing healthier eating habits—don’t happen overnight. That’s why health improvement programs are generally long-term investments, making it challenging to track program success and ROI.
Benchmark data provides you with data comparisons and administrative reports that show how your population is doing over time. Then, despite how program success might look on a micro level, you’ll have access to your population’s full health trends for a broader view. This information can help make a compelling argument for additional resources and budgets.
“We use these reports to evaluate our program and our population [to help us] in developing or tweaking those programs. [Then] we include information from our administrative report and the benchmark report to our leadership to show value,” said Awalt. “So, we definitely use it to evaluate our programs and development, but we also use it to show how we’re doing in the success of some of these areas.”
Download the 2022 Benchmark Report: The State of Population Health and Wellness to begin strengthening your wellness programs today.