Health Assessments have always been important, but in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, it has assumed renewed significance. Health assessment often include a set of questions that a person has to answer. The objective of those questions is to know about their overall health and well-being, risks, personal behavior, health goals and priorities, and other life-changing events.
Conducting a health assessment is often the first important step in identifying the person’s problems, their medical needs, and how the healthcare system should address them. It varies in scope and length, can be completed during or between office visits, online or offline.
The Importance of Regular Health Assessment
Various studies have suggested that death from heart diseases, stroke, Cancer, or Diabetes can be prevented by following a healthy diet, regular exercising, and quitting smoking. Every year thousands of lives, their time, and capital are claimed by diseases preventable in nature. Therefore, it is essential to undertake periodic health assessments.
In situations where there is a family history of cardiovascular diseases, Diabetes, higher BMI, etc., one must get a preventive health check-up every 6 months, recommended by a senior doctor who is well-versed with your regular check-up. Genetic analysis and Cancer screening are required in patients with a family history of the disease or those who use tobacco in any form. The human body changes every fraction of a second, and the more frequent the preventive check-up, the better is the outcome with adequate interventions.
Based on the assessment results, your medical care provider will steer you to manage your health. Taking charge of your health may include incorporating regular exercise and a healthy diet in your routine, preventive medication before the onset of any potential chronic disease, or medicine to manage any ongoing health conditions.
Components of a Health Assessment
A comprehensive health assessment includes a general survey, an analysis of medical history, and a complete physical examination, along with self-reported symptoms. This health assessment seeks to measure and provides an insight into someone’s physical and mental vitals. Health assessments are used to obtain the baseline data about patients and build a rapport with them to build a trusting relationship and ease their anxiety.
The general survey comprises minor details such as age, height, weight, hygiene, gait, build, and posture. Major details involve the extent of tobacco use, level of physical activities, stress, sexual practices, alcohol usage or addictive actions such as substance abuse or gambling, symptoms of anxiety or Depression, the presence or absence of emotional support, sedentary lifestyle, history of bullying, physical abuse or violence, and overall health and well-being.
To summarize, health assessments comprises the following components:
- Collection of information including medical history;
- Investigations as per requirement;
- A comprehensive evaluation of a person’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being;
- Recommendation of appropriate medical or surgical interventions;
- Providing information and advising the person concerned; and
- Maintaining records and offering a written report of the health assessment to the undertaker.
Who Should Take a Health Assessment
Health Assessments are carried out to obtain a general understanding of your health, including physiological, mental, psychological, and sexual well-being. It enables you to be proactive towards the state of health and prevents the onslaught of any disease. But who are these health assessments meant for? And, what should people of specific age groups get tested for?
- For children over the age of 3 and under the age of 5, receiving childhood vaccination and undergoing routine checkups is the norm.
- Upto the age of 17 years, in the absence of any chronic disease, it is pertinent to assess adolescents for anomalies in sexual health and related behaviors.
- For people belonging to the age group of 18 to 39, annual health screenings are a must. A typical yearly screening includes checking weight and height, cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, skin, Depression, immunizations, blood tests for a complete blood cell count, thyroid, Liver Enzyme markers, Plasma Glucose, and sexually transmitted diseases.
Women of this age group must undertake breast examination, Pap Smear test for Cervical Cancer, and an HPV vaccine if not received as an adolescent. Men must opt for a testicular exam.
- Men and women between the age group of 40-64 must undergo Colorectal Screening, Lung Cancer, Osteoporosis, Depression, Colonoscopy, and be administered annual Flu shots. Additionally, women must undergo Pelvic examination, Mammogram, and annual Blood Culture; and men must undertake a Prostate examination, especially in the presence of risk factors.
- For people over 65 and more, it is essential to evaluate the overall health, including examining Colorectal Cancer, Rapid increase or decrease in weight, Depression, and a sense of orientation with their surroundings.
Different Types of Health Assessments
Depending upon the particular needs, a medical practitioner might conduct assessments for people belonging to different age groups. It can be classified in terms of the length of the evaluation.
- A brief health assessment is a simple one that can be concluded within or less than 30 minutes.
- When you need more than just a brief assessment but not complex enough to warrant a longer one, a Standard health assessment is employed, which may extend upto 45 minutes.
- A Long health assessment is conducted when there are complex health issues to deal with. It usually takes an hour to complete.
- A Prolonged health assessment is a complex one where you need a preventative healthcare plan that exceeds an hour. Based on the tests you need to undertake, your medical care provider will inform you about the time duration you need to set aside for the assessment.
Traditionally, these health assessments would take place at a hospital or diagnostic centers. But the current times have propelled people to carry out health assessments at home.
How to Conduct a Health Assessment at Home?
Home health assessments allow capturing social and environmental factors that may influence health but are not detected in a clinical environment. Very often, the information contained in medical records does not represent a person’s physical health, insights on their behavior, or social conditions. One way of conducting the health assessment at home is to have qualified physician assistants or nurse practitioners reach out to the person concerned and carry out a comprehensive health assessment to provide the missing clinical data. This process can drive quality and care management initiatives to ensure that their clinical risk burden is accurately captured and substantiated for the purpose of risk adjustment. Another way of conducting a health assessment at home is to do it yourself by answering online questionnaires honestly.
A health assessment is an accurate judgment of mental, physical, and quality standards of a person’s life. In a healthy at-home assessment, depending upon your age, you need to ask yourself questions about –
- General health condition;
- Ability to carry out daily living activities;
- Any sense of unease or discomfort in any part of the body;
- Ability to remember details;
- Whether you need additional support for personal care and many more.
This will help you or your healthcare practitioner to identify the risks involved. There are 4 broad categories that a person needs to test him/herself upon:
- Physical Health: This involves asking a person to list symptoms they have experienced between the last 6 months until recently. These symptoms must include eyes, ears, nose, head, throat, lungs, chest, musculoskeletal, psychological, heart, gastrointestinal, neurological, balance and mobility, and dermatological.
- Nutrition: This comprises checking the Body Mass Index (BMI) of a person. If there is a rapid loss or gaining of weight, there could be a problem with nutrition.
- Self-Care: It is gauged on a person’s ability to carry out their daily activities such as bathing, toileting, dressing, eating, transferring, grooming, cleaning activities such as washing the dishes or doing laundry, managing household bills from electricity bills to grocery or paying taxes.
- Mental Health: This involves gauging if a person has symptoms of Depression or anxiety, if they suffer from feelings of low self-esteem, a sense of loss, a lower functionality in their daily life, and their ability of social networking.
Whether done at home or a health center, any given health assessment must include all aspects of life, such as physical, mental, social health, and lifestyle. It can help in keeping the risk factors in check and facilitate a quality life. It is an excellent way of addressing health concerns beyond the realm of your regular physician appointments. These assessments are most helpful when scheduled every six months. Stay at the pink of your health with regular health assessments.
For a health assessment, download the free Health Assessment app.