Edi­tor’s Desk

Em­ploy­ers, take note: If you don’t em­brace digital ben­e­fit of­fer­ings, you might not only lose out on sav­ings, but on help­ing your em­ploy­ees live bet­ter, healthier lives.

Employee Benefit News - - Contents -

The thing I like most about EBN’s Digital In­no­va­tors? That these vi­sion­ar­ies are com­ing up with so­lu­tions to em­power em­ploy­ees to bet­ter un­der­stand their health and their ben­e­fits.

An AI ben­e­fits as­sis­tant that an­swers em­ploy­ees’ ben­e­fits ques­tions. A fi­nan­cial well­ness app that pro­vides au­to­matic bud­get plan­ning and sav­ings tips. Plat­forms that help em­ploy­ees and HR pro­fes­sion­als man­age paid leave and stu­dent debt re­pay­ment pro­grams. These are among the in­no­va­tions that are trans­form­ing HR and ben­e­fits right now. As EBN and EBA edi­tors pored through dozens of nominations for our an­nual list of Digital In­no­va­tors, I have to say, I was over­whelmed by the in­no­va­tion that’s hap­pen­ing in our in­dus­try.

With each pass­ing year that we rec­og­nize these vi­sion­ar­ies — this is our third year — I am less over­whelmed by the tech­nol­ogy be­hind new digital so­lu­tions and more ex­cited by the pos­si­bil­i­ties they of­fer.

Though I’m ad­mit­tedly old-fash­ioned when it comes to tech­nol­ogy (buy­ing new gad­gets and down­load­ing apps has never re­ally been my bag), if tech is mak­ing ben­e­fits and health­care eas­ier, more di­gestible — and dare­say, more fun — then I’m all for it.

The thing I like most about some of these digital so­lu­tions? That they em­power em­ploy­ees to bet­ter un­der­stand their health and their ben­e­fits.

In to­day’s health­care en­vi­ron­ment, em­ploy­ees often are at a loss when it comes to un­der­stand­ing their health data and bio­met­ric num­bers. Many don’t have im­me­di­ate ac­cess to their own health records. That’s where tech­nol­ogy can help. Take, for in­stance, Hello Heart, an app-driven plat­form de­signed to help em­ploy­ees man­age hy­per­ten­sion, heart rate and car­dio­vas­cu­lar health. The ser­vice also in­cludes tools that help im­prove med­i­ca­tion ad­her­ence, im­port clin­i­cal lab re­sults and de­liver per­son­al­ized prompts to drive healthy be­hav­ior changes.

Its cre­ator, Maayan Co­hen, who is among the 20 in­no­va­tors fea­tured start­ing on p. 10, said her own per­sonal and frus­trat­ing ex­pe­ri­ence with health­care was the rea­son she started the app in the first place.

“Eight years ago, my boyfriend at the time was di­ag­nosed with a brain tu­mor. Overnight, I found my­self col­lect­ing med­i­cal records and vi­tal signs at home on a piece of pa­per and spend­ing hours on­line ev­ery day try­ing to fig­ure out what was go­ing on and fig­ur­ing out if he was bet­ter or worse,” she re­cently told me. “From that scary, per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence with the health­care sys­tem, I re­al­ized that we as pa­tients don’t have any tools to un­der­stand or im­prove our own health be­tween doc­tors’ vis­its. I de­cided that’s what I wanted to do.”

Of course, these kinds of so­lu­tions aren’t just help­ing em­ploy­ees; they’re help­ing em­ploy­ers, too. Hello Heart, which em­ploy­ers are now of­fer­ing as a ben­e­fit to em­ploy­ees, tar­gets heart dis­ease, which is both the lead­ing cause of death and the lead­ing health cost driver for em­ploy­ers.

Em­ploy­ers, take note: If you don’t em­brace some of these of­fer­ings, you might not only lose out on sav­ings, but on help­ing your em­ploy­ees live bet­ter, healthier lives.

“Ev­ery­thing is be­com­ing tech­nol­ogy-ori­ented. Peo­ple pre­fer to learn about their health and com­mu­ni­cate on their phones,” Co­hen told me. “Just like you wouldn’t want to call your bank to un­der­stand what your bal­ance is — you’d rather just quickly see that on­line or on your app — you want to get an ex­pla­na­tion as to what just hap­pened in your blood pres­sure read­ing. It’s con­ve­nient, it’s im­por­tant and it helps em­ploy­ees take ac­tion, be­cause they might not be com­fort­able talk­ing to some­one about these very per­sonal de­tails.”

In­no­va­tion in health and ben­e­fits so­lu­tions is here. So, em­ploy­ers, what are you do­ing to em­brace it?

Send let­ter, queries and story ideas to Edi­tor-in-Chief Kathryn Mayer at kathryn.mayer@source­me­dia.com — Kathryn Mayer

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