If you want to understand the current state of health in your organization, it takes a multi-pronged approach.  It is also requires collecting key performance metrics that are meaningful and lead to the right outcomes. Joseph Allen, with the Harvard School of Public Health, has started to use the term “health performance indicators” or HPIs (kind of like key performance indicators or KPIs) as the quantifiable measures of human health that can be used to identify drivers of negative and positive impacts of buildings on health, productivity and the well-being of occupants. More broadly, I think the term easily applies to non-building related health indicators too.

So what are the right HPIs to focus on?  As much as I would love to tell you, I’m afraid there are no “core set of measures” out there.  For example, one recent study from the National Academies found that across six U.S. Health and Human Services measurement programs, there were 61 different measures for smoking cessation, 113 for HIV, 19 for obesity, and 68 for perinatal health.  Also, there are many health-related indexes, certifications, checklists and third party reporting systems in existance, but nothing universally accepted and certainly nothing that is measured consistently on a global basis.  And all of these different organizational health measures typically only measure pieces of the health or social responsibility picture within the organization. For example, some evaluate wellness programs (more typically managed by human resources or a wellness director), others are more focused on physical aspects of the workplace that improve occupant health (more typically managed by facilities management), others might focus on the environment, with some human health factors thrown in (managed by a sustainability reporting team) and still others are about making sure products are designed or produced in a way that does not impact human health (work done by a product line or manufacturer).

Here is a list of some of the more popular health scorecards/awards that is by no means comprehensive, but it gives you a general sense of the landscape.  It’s worth exploring several different tools and seeing which ones best match your line of business and you may want to use more than one to suit your needs.

The range of features highlighted or evaluated might include:

  • HPIs such as well-being, weight management, smoking cessation, substance abuse, physical activity, healthy eating, blood pressure management, health care utilization/ cost, absenteeism, disability, safety incidents, etc.
  • Data sources used to determine performance such as health risk assessment, medical claims data, short-term disability claims
  • If the standard is about a wellness program, there may be questions about the program design, such a number of participants in the program, how groups or areas were selected or current services provided such as immunizations, screenings our counseling
  • If the standard is about healthy buildings, there may be questions about aspects of the workplace such as air quality, water quality, food quality, access to natural light, amenities to encourage fitness, increase comfort or decrease stress
  • If the standard is about a healthy product, it might include detailed questions about materials used and the manufacturing process
  • How leadership, lines of business, employees or the community are engaged in marketing campaigns, training, or the implementation of programs or strategies
  • Outcomes achieved such as an increase in smoking cessation, number of pounds lost or reduced number of sick days, reduced cost of healthcare per person, increased number of steps taken per day
  • Statistics or analysis used to measure outcomes
  • Innovations adopted to achieve outcomes

I look forward to the time when measuring health and well-being at an organizational level is easier and more integrated.  Until then, hopefully this gives you a sense of tools you can use.  And if you know of other good tools, please mention them here!