At a high level, population health and wellness programs generally all share the same goal: to help people live healthier lives. But how can you be sure the wellness programs you’re developing will actually move the needle when it comes to meeting people where they are in their wellness journey and guiding them along the path toward well-being?
The answer may lie in building SMART goals for your wellness programs. SMART goals are:
- Specific – Clearly state what you want to accomplish
- Measurable – Be clear on how you will track goal accomplishment
- Action-oriented – Include actions that move you closer to achieving the goal
- Reasonable/Relevant – ensure the goal is not out of reach and is aligned with your organization's goals and objectives
- Time-oriented – Set a target date for goal completion
How do you set SMART goals for your population health and wellness programs?
As a rule of thumb, if you want a wellness program that will improve the health of your population, it's helpful to know two things:
- Where your population stands today when it comes to health risks, concerns, or opportunities to improve health and lifestyle habits
- Which health habits your population is most ready to change
To collect these metrics, your program must center around administering a Health Risk Assessment (HRA) that collects deep population health data, including data on your population’s readiness to change their health and lifestyle habits. From there, you can begin building SMART goals for your health and wellness initiatives. Here are some things to keep in mind:
Specific population health and wellness program goals
Your goal should clearly state what you want to accomplish. To be specific you need the data to segment your population—by health concern, demographic, lifestyle habits, or even their readiness to make a change. Doing so will help you set goals and allocate resources to segments of your population most at risk or most receptive to your messages.
Measurable population health and wellness program goals
Wellness program goals should identify how you will measure the accomplishment, as well as meaningful benchmarks or milestones along the way. An HRA gives you both benchmark and trends so can compare self-reported health status before, midway, and after your initiatives.
Actionable population health and wellness program goals
Wellness goals should include an action that moves a person closer to the desired outcome. To find out what people are willing to act on, use an HRA that measures an individual’s readiness to change health and lifestyle habits. Then, create an action plan and discover the resources you need.
Reachable or relevant population health and wellness program goals
Generally, health and wellness goals must meet a realistic need but also take some effort to achieve. If your goals aren’t relevant to your population’s current health concerns, they will not be as engaged. If your goals are too aggressive, you risk losing the interest of your population at every missed milestone. For example, it’s easy to read an article about the benefits of exercise, but a lot harder to actually exercise for 150 minutes a week—it’s helpful to build a path with meaningful milestones along the way between these two measurements. A stretch goal is easier to accomplish if it’s one your population is interested in pursuing.
Time-oriented population health and wellness program goals
Any goal should include a target date for completion. This creates a sense of urgency and makes a healthy change a priority. By administering an HRA every quarter you can stay apprised of member progress. The example below shows how you might ground your goal-making by putting timeframes to when you will act, measure, then improve on your programs.
What's an example of a SMART goal for population health and wellness programs?
Once you understand SMART goals, how can you put them into practice and make real improvements to your population's health? Here's just one example of a common health and wellness program goal, and how it could be more specific, measurable, actionable, reachable or relevant, and timely.
Example situation: When you review your HRA data you find that more than 75% of your population is having difficulty coping with stress. Of those who were having trouble coping, 85% are interested in coping better.
What’s next? Set SMART goals of your own
Now it’s your turn. Looking at your population’s health and lifestyle habits, what SMART goals would you create for your wellness initiatives? A good place to start is by administering a HRA to evaluate your population’s current health and lifestyle habits, greatest health risks, and readiness to change.
We’ve developed a toolkit to help you promote your HRA and engage your population at the beginning of their health journey. Click here to download the HRA Engagement toolkit, complete with email templates, posters, and messaging best practices to increase HRA completion rates.