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Health Break: Why a health risk assessment is good for your health

A podcast for UPMC Health Plan members, Health Break is your quick guide to caring for your mental and physical health, prioritizing wellness, and making the most of your health insurance plan.

Episode 11: Take a Health Break with Dr. Amy Meister

Dr. Meister takes a Health Break to discuss health risk assessments. What are they, why is it important to complete one for your health insurance, and how can it affect your health? 


Episode transcript:

Camille: Welcome to Health Break by UPMC Health Plan, your quick guide to health, wellness, and how to make the most of your health insurance plan. Listen during your coffee break, lunch break, or anytime you need a break. I’m your host, Dr. Camille Clarke-Smith. I help to oversee the quality of the plans we offer at UPMC Health Plan.

Alex: And I’m your co-host, Alex Treanor. I’m a senior health coach who works with our members on healthy lifestyle habits and goals. This is your… Health Break.

Camille: Hey! This is Dr. Camille Clarke-Smith. Today we’re talking with Dr. Amy Meister to learn about health risk assessments—better known as an HRAs. What are they, and how can they affect our health?

Thank you so much, Dr. Meister, for taking a Health Break with us today.

Dr. Meister: My pleasure to be here. Thank you.

Camille: So, Dr. Meister, what is a health risk assessment or HRA?

Dr. Meister: A health risk assessment is simply a tool that you use to personally assess your state of health and well-being. It’s also used by your extended care team as a resource to understand where you are in your personal health care journey. It identifies medical issues that you may have or be at risk for, of which we can put in a prevention plan to help keep you safe and well. It also looks at things such as social determinants of health, as well as financial stressors and other issues that may interfere with your overall health and well-being.

Different products have different names, but some include: MyHealth Questionnaire, Getting to Know You, or Health Assessment Survey. The surveys take about 20 minutes to complete but are very engaging. Those 20 minutes fly by. We are working currently to make adaptive HRAs, so every year or every time you take an HRA, you’ll be exposed to different content and it’ll be personalized to your experience and what’s relevant to you, and the time will likely be shorter.

Additionally, we measure multiple things and what we measure will help craft the best plan for you in which you can discuss with our dedicated coaching team to help you achieve whatever goals are identified through this tool. Additionally, what’s nice about what’s identified, if you’re someone that likes to keep things very personal, you have an opportunity to use some self-learning techniques. And if you’re someone that benefits from having live coaching, that’s available as well and [I] strongly encourage you to take advantage of the resources that we have such as Prescription for Wellness—you can ask your provider about that—as well as using our RxWell app.

Camille: How can the HRA help us learn about our health?

Dr. Meister: The HRA is a tool that really helps us do an inventory of our overall risk factors for various medical conditions. Things such as high cholesterol, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure are just a few. Additionally, it can help identify things such as poor sleep, stress, and help get to the root cause. The key to using one of these tools successfully is to really help drive down and understand what the root causes are. It’s easy to put a band-aid on something and feel better, but if you want to prevent something and truly change the course of how you feel and your long-term outcomes, you really need to address the root cause of the issue. Tools like this are perfect for identifying what you really need to focus on to help you get where you need to be in your personal health care journey.

Camille: How do we complete our HRA and how often?

Dr. Meister: You can complete your HRA very easily by logging into our secure member website, MyHealth OnLine, or my personal favorite, using the UPMC Health Plan mobile app. You should take the survey once a year.

Camille: Thank you so much, Dr. Meister, for taking a Health Break with us today.

Dr. Meister: You’re welcome. Have a good day.

Camille: Check out your own personal recommendations by taking the MyHealth Questionnaire today. Find the link in the show notes of today’s episode.

Find show notes and more information at Join us as we explore other health and wellness topics in the next episode of Health Break.
This podcast is for informational and educational purposes. It is not medical care or advice. Individuals in need of medical care should consult their personal care provider. Views and opinions expressed by the hosts and guests are solely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of UPMC Health Plan and its employees.

About Dr. Camille Clarke-Smith: 

Camille Clarke-Smith, EdD, is a program director in the Quality Improvement, Medicare Stars Department at UPMC Health Plan, where she leads the Medicare Faith and Wellness Program, a 3- to 12-week health and wellness challenge. She is also the founder of the nonprofit Transforming the Health of African American Women (THAW) Inc. She earned a doctorate in health and physical activity education from the University of Pittsburgh in addition to a master’s in exercise science and a bachelor’s in psychology and sociology. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in social work at Carlow University. 

About Alex Treanor: 

Alex Treanor is a lead health coach at UPMC Health Plan. As a lifestyle health coach, she specializes in helping you lose weight, eat healthy, get more physical activity, be less stressed, and quit tobacco. Alex has a master’s in Kinesiology, Integrative Wellness from Point Loma Nazarene University. She has been coaching since 2014 and is a Nationally Board Certified Health & Wellness Coach and Certified Personal Trainer. Alex is passionate about helping people improve their relationship with food and exercise while creating healthy, sustainable routines filled with enjoyment. Alex enjoys spending time with her husband, walking with her dog, and eating tacos in the sunshine.