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URAC Releases Standards and Measures for Wellness Programs for Public Comment

Wednesday, June 25, 2008 General News J E 4
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WASHINGTON, June 24 URAC has convened an expert advisorygroup for creation of accreditation standards and measures for wellnessprograms in response to employers' requests for quality standards and measuresfor both comprehensive and focused wellness programs. The more than 50advisory committee members include employers, health plans, public benefitsorganizations, health care professional associations, health care providersand wellness promotion companies. The group represents a variety ofperspectives from the health care industry and has been collaborating to draftthe standards, which were released for public comment today. The deadline forpublic comment is Aug. 7, 2008.

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20030501/URACLOGO )

URAC is the Washington, D.C.-based independent accreditor that offers morethan 20 accreditation and certification programs along the continuum of care,including health management accreditation programs for utilization management,disease management and case management. The new health managementaccreditation programs for Comprehensive Wellness and Focused Wellnesspromotion programs are a response to the need for national standards tomeasure the effectiveness of these programs that focus on health promotion,chronic disease prevention and health risk reduction.

Employee health and wellness programs have become a critical component ofemployer health benefit management because of their ability to reduce healthrisks and their related health care costs and boost productivity. According tothe Society for Human Resource Management, about 86 percent of U.S. employerscurrently offer wellness programs to their employees.(1)

"It is clear that uptake of these programs is growing among employers asan avenue for both employee health improvement and potential cost savings,"said Alan Spielman, URAC's president and CEO. "The addition of two WellnessAccreditation Programs to the suite of URAC Health Management accreditationswill be a valuable tool for purchasers of these programs to evaluate whetherhealth management organizations promoting wellness meet industry-recognizedstandards and measures for effectiveness, safety and quality."

"URAC Comprehensive Wellness and Focused Wellness Health ManagementAccreditation Programs will help employers recognize quality programs whichare based on reliable standards for program participant assessment, wellnessinterventions and program evaluation," said Douglas Metz, DC, chairman of theURAC Standards Committee. "The Comprehensive Wellness Standards will includespecific program quality measures. This is the first time a URAC accreditationprogram has included quantitative measurement as a component of its standards.As employers focus more on wellness, health improvement, and productivityimprovement, the development of standards and expectations for companiesproviding wellness programs is crucial for the improved quality and efficiencyof wellness interventions that are developed and implemented."

In addition to its core organizational quality standards, URAC's WellnessAccreditation will include standardized definitions and measures to evaluateprograms. These standard components will allow health management companies todemonstrate they meet quality organizational standards and will aid purchasersas they compare and evaluate the services those companies provide.

URAC's Comprehensive Wellness Accreditation is slated to include fivebroad areas of focus. In addition to including the comprehensive CoreOrganizational Quality Standards, the Wellness modules are:

-- Assessment: Includes risk identification and risk awarenesscomponents;

-- Interventions: Addresses overall program design, staffing, and use ofincentives and education and communications aspects of wellness programs;

-- Evaluation: Focuses on how the wellness organization calculates,me
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