Group Seeks Comment on Wellness Accreditation Draft Standards

URAC, a Washington, D.C.-based independent accreditor, has convened an expert advisory group for creation of accreditation standards and measures for wellness programs in response to employers' requests for quality standards and measures for both comprehensive and focused wellness programs. The more than 50 advisory committee members include employers, health plans, public benefits organizations, health care professional associations, health care providers and wellness promotion companies. The group represents a variety of perspectives from the health care industry and has been collaborating to draft the standards, which were released for public comment on June 24. The deadline for public comment is Aug. 7, 2008.

URAC is a non-profit organization that offers more than 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 management accreditation programs for Comprehensive Wellness and Focused Wellness promotion programs are a response to the need for national standards to measure 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 of employer health benefit management because of their ability to reduce health risks and their related health care costs and boost productivity.

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

In addition to its core organizational quality standards, URAC's Wellness Accreditation will include standardized definitions and measures to evaluate programs. These standard components will allow health management companies to demonstrate they meet quality organizational standards and will aid purchasers as they compare and evaluate the services those companies provide.

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

  • Assessment: Includes risk identification and risk awareness components.
  • Interventions: Addresses overall program design, staffing, and use of incentives and education and communications aspects of wellness programs.
  • Evaluation: Focuses on how the wellness organization calculates, measures, and reports participant progress and overall clinical and financial program success to the client.
  • Integration: Focuses on an organization's ability and willingness to coordinate with other organizations, operations, and programs already in place.
  • Measurement: Focuses on producing and reporting on a specified set of performance measures as part of internal performance improvement, reporting to purchasers and public reporting.

The Wellness Accreditation draft standards are available for review at www.urac.org/publiccomment. URAC will only accept comments through this online comment form. After the comment period, the committee will make recommended changes to the draft standards and measures, which will then undergo Beta testing and evaluation. Final Wellness Accreditation standards and measures are expected for release in December.

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