October 10, 2011
Every time we hear this phrase applied to wellness, it makes us grin. Invariably, the term is used to suggest that someone has done some research to confirm the ideal approach to produce a desired behavior change. It’s often associated with health assessment, high-risk intervention, health coaching methods, incentive models, and other tools in a wellness practitioner’s bag of tricks.
The irony (which produces the grin) is that while some techniques are certainly more successful than others, none that we know will produce unqualified successes across populations over time. In fact, we see a decrease in risk assessments and coaching (while health screenings are on the rise), making the best practice discussion pointless despite claims of 3:1 ROI. Seriously, what buyer would drop a best practice service with 300% returns?
It shouldn’t come as a shock that universally successful approaches to changing health behavior don't exist. A trip to the mall or airport will confirm we’re not winning the population health war, regardless of the little victories.
So don’t be lulled into complacency by service providers claiming best practice and supporting it with “data.” Along with the universally cited 3:1 ROI, best practice is a marketing term that should at the very least be viewed with caution, if not skepticism.