— By Denise Adamson, Corporate Vice President of Sales, BioIQ —

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Health screening is at the heart of most wellness programs since it supplies the critical biometric data by which individuals and populations are measured. These annual screening events are important, but as wellness programs mature, many employers are looking for ways to keep participants engaged throughout the year.

In my last post, I discussed the importance of incentives, outcomes, and data management “handoffs” within wellness programs. These were hot topics at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) conference and they remain so today, partly because they provide a scaffolding for constructing year-round wellness programs.

Do you emphasize wellness education as a way to keep people on a path towards better health? What types of programs have you established for addressing high-risk cases? How’s your track record at helping people adopt healthier lifestyles?

After several informative sessions at the SHRM conference, and lots of discussions with attendees, I came to the conclusion that successful wellness programs have three things in common:

Personalization – to connect individuals with targeted health improvement opportunities.

Guidance – to deliver interactive recommendations for meeting health improvement goals.

Automation – to engage the population on a large scale, without making your job more difficult!

Let’s look at each of these items in turn.

Personalization: Data from biometric screenings uncovers individual risks to participants and reveals worrisome trends within populations. But that insight is only valuable to the extent that people apply it to their everyday lives. Personalized education programs empower people to learn about their conditions and make lifestyle changes to improve their health. Ideally, you should have education programs for diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure, as well as assisting with smoking cessation, nutrition, exercise, and healthy living. And here’s the key: each individual’s risk profile should trigger personalized recommendations for participation.

Guidance: Wellness participants need interactive feedback, either online or through mobile devices. This includes individualized programs for lifestyle management, preventive care, and disease management. Each participant should be assisted by a live or digital health coach. They should have personal health dashboards that remind them about useful programs and track their progress throughout the year.

Automation: Technology is what allows you to engage hundreds or even thousands of people in a systematic way. Your technology platform should securely manage health data as lab results are received and HRAs are completed. It should send specific recommendations to each participant based on their risk factors, and coordinate the exchange of data with partner wellness vendors. Your platform should also automate the process of tracking program participation—and support value-based care metrics.

By following these guidelines, you can build a wellness program that empowers participants to stay on track all year long—not just following annual screening activities.

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