Health Assessments in Primary Care
Section 1. How Ready is Your Practice to Implement a New Health Assessment?
How do you know if your practice is ready to start work on implementing a health assessment? Answer the questions below to help identify areas where more preparation is needed.
Table 1: A Checklist to Evaluate Your Practice Readiness
|Questions for Your Practice or Team||Yes||No||Where to Find Help
in This Guide
|Do most clinicians and staff in your practice agree that implementing a health assessment is an important issue?||Section 1 (this section): benefits of implementing health assessments|
|Is your practice prepared to commit resources to the process of implementing a new health assessment?||Section 2: health assessment selection and resource considerations|
|Does your practice have an idea of where the health assessment will fit into your practice's current workflow?||Section 3: workflow integration strategies|
|Does your practice have a plan for how the data from the health assessment will be used once it is collected?||Section 4: approaches to using information with your patients|
|How will your practice organize its resources (internal and external) to provide care based on the results of the health assessment?||Section 4: approaches to using information with your patients|
|Has your practice thought about ways to engage your patients in the health assessment process (review of results, prioritization, action plan, etc.)?||Section 5: strategies for engaging patients with health assessment information|
|Has your practice considered how it will sustain and improve the health assessment?||Section 6: tips for sustaining health assessments|
If you found yourself marking "No" more often than "Yes", you may need to address those barriers before moving forward on a full health assessment implementation. If the barriers are relatively minor, some education may help. Below are some ideas to help weigh the pros and cons of adopting and implementing a new health assessment.
Benefits of Routine Health Assessment
- Improve relationships with patients by using the data to stimulate dialogue.
- Help clinicians identify and prioritize patient health issues and health goals.
- Help pinpoint focused messages when talking with patients about what matters to their health.
- Help patients understand their current health status and act to improve their health.
- Consistently remind patients to increase their awareness about specific behaviors and habits that affect their health or chronic conditions.
- Track patient health behaviors over time (e.g., physical activity, smoking, stress, or quality of life), which can also help with patient follow-up.
- Measure and monitor patient data at the practice/population level for proactive, planned care.
- Identify issues requiring patient referral to additional resources.
- Fulfill requirements for and generate revenue from incentive programs and national guidelines.
|Don't be afraid of the information you are going to start seeing. You will have better insight and probably learn more about your patients, thus building a far better relationship with your patient than you may have thought possible.
- Practice manager, urban private practice, Colorado
Challenges of Routine Health Assessments
- Selecting an instrument that is meaningful, but practicable.
- Dedicating time and training (including technical assistance if using EHR) required to effectively integrate health assessment into the practice workflow.
- Accepting the practice work flow interruptions that may occur during the early implementation phase.
- Identifying a method to analyze and prepare data for easy and expedient use by the health care team.
- Prioritizing and addressing a patient's identified health risks.
- Organizing and deploying appropriate staff and resources to intervene on and treat identified health risks.
- Documenting and coding correctly in order to receive incentives and facilitate appropriate referrals.
|There is a balance: You don't want to have to do too much routinely. Right now we have to do a lot of documentation for "meaningful use," which is a burden. I am very sensitive to adding to this burden. Yet, I also can see the importance of having this information for reaching public health goals and collection of data.
- Family physician, suburban private practice, Colorado