personalized-health-plans-aided-by-technology

Personalizing health plans with technology

Technology offers advanced opportunities to make your health plan customized to your employees. Check out this article from Employee Benefit Advisor by Cort Olsen for more information.


Many advisers are using digital monitoring to evaluate the status of wellbeing within a given employer’s employee population.

Craig Schmidt, senior wellness consultant for EPIC, says one of the ways he is able to identify the companies that are offering strong digital wellness plans is through their ability to integrate such programs with claims data. He utilizes a push style notification to a mobile device to inform individual employees about specific plans that can coordinate well with their conditions as a further enhancement.

Samantha Gardiner, director of product management at Health Advocate, says her company has combined wellness, chronic condition management and client outreach all into one program to improve the health of employees and reduce claims and pharmaceutical costs for employer-provided health plans.

“We take the data and provide alerts via our website, email or mobile push notifications to keep employees informed about their personal health conditions,” Gardiner says. “If we have the data, we can really target and personalize the program toward company goals and members’ personal goals.”

In order to identify the best in class among the programs offered by wellness providers, Schmidt says he looks at the number and quality of interfaces and outcomes from the program as well as success stories that employees can share that can flesh out an employer’s return on investment.

“We can look at results six months or even a year after an employee has participated in the program to see if behavior changes have taken place,” Schmidt says. “If the plan integrates and reacts to the systems the employer has in place for his or her employees, then we will know if the program is a right match.”

Integration

Monica Majors, vice president of marketing and communications of health plan products at Sutter Health, says a digital wellness program needs to integrate with a multitude of personal devices.

“The site must be responsive to all technology, such as a mobile device, a tablet, or for those who are deskbound, from their computer,” Majors says. “The flexibility of offering individual trackers as well as key based activity challenges through a wide range of activities will keep retention.”

The program can then offer a health assessment that can be aggregated into an overall employer report, which can then serve as a basis for customization for that specific workforce.

Marcia Otto, vice president of product strategy at Health Advocate, says her company offers biometric screenings that can be done onsite, which can then factor into an employee’s health risk assessment to further customize the personal health program.

“If we get biometric data from our biometric data collection or if the employee sends us the data from a third party, that is another data source we can look at to determine if they need further attention for diabetes, hyper tension or so on,” Otto says. “We can also collect data on what their last blood test reported, right down to how many fruits or vegetables they eat, which is then prioritized based on how sick the employee is.”

Incentivizing

To influence employees to remain on the wellness plan, employers have offered incentives. These incentives can range from gift cards and cash rewards to funding a HSA or a HRA.

Paul Sterling, vice president of emerging products at UnitedHealthcare, says users who are enrolled in the UnitedHealthcare Motion program – an app programmed to encourage employees to remain active throughout the workday using a smart phone or smart watch – rewards employees by funding money into an HSA or HRA as a way to retain users.

“We have three daily walking objectives through our FIT criteria – frequency, intensity and tenacity – that each of our members try to achieve,” Sterling says. “Each one of those objectives is tied to or associated with an incentive amount.”

For each objective the employee completes, UnitedHealthcare deposits $1 into the user’s HSA or HRA, depending what they have.

Each day, the employee can complete each of the objectives. It resets daily, allowing the employee to continue to receive up to $3 per day.

Over the course of one year, Sterling says participation in the Motion program has held at a steady 67%. “If you think about other products in the health and wellness space, that’s arguably 10 times the level of engagement achieved over that period of time others would achieve,” Sterling says.

While Gardiner says she cannot pin point the number of employees engaged in her program for an extended period of time yet, she thinks incentives do drive continued engagement for some employees who need the extra push to be active or engage in a healthier lifestyle.

“An incentive program that provides at least a $300 incentive to participate is where we see our most engagement,” Gardiner says. “It all depends on the goals of the employer.”

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SOURCE:
Olsen C. (4 February 2018). "Personalizing health plans with technology" [Web Blog Post]. Retrieved from address https://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/news/personalizing-health-plans-with-technology?feed=00000152-175f-d933-a573-ff5f3f230000

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Employers using fast-feedback apps to measure worker satisfaction, engagement

In this article from Employee Benefit Advisors, we take a look at measuring worker satisfaction and engagement through the use of feedback applications. Let us know what your verdict is!


The days of employers conducting employee engagement surveys once every year might be coming to an end.

Thanks to “fast feedback” applications, employers can conduct quick online surveys of their employees to measure how engaged they are at their jobs. The data from these polls is then collated and presented, often in real time on dashboards, to employers to show their workforce’s level of engagement and satisfaction. Some of these web-based programs also can present CEOs with steps they can take to improve their environment and culture.

These tools are available from Culture Amp, Glint, TINYpulse, PeakOn and others.

One of the main benefits of fast feedback, according to Glint CEO Jim Barnett, is that it cuts down on “regrettable attrition,” which occurs when talented employees leave for better jobs.

Glint customers include eBay, Glassdoor, Intuit, LinkedIn and Sky Broadcasting. These clients send out e-mail invitations to workers and ask them to take a voluntary survey, which can feature either stock employee engagement questions or queries that can be fine-tuned for a specific workplace.

Glint recommends 10 to 20 questions per Pulse — what it calls employee engagement survey sessions — and results are sent back to the employer’s HR directors and senior executives. According to Barnett, the Pulses are confidential but not anonymous. Barnett explains that while anonymous surveys do not record the respondent’s name and job title, a confidential survey means that only Glint knows who took the Pulse. The employer is only presented data from specific job groups or job descriptors within an enterprise, such as a production team or IT support.

This month, Glint announced two new capabilities to its real-time employee feedback program, called Always-On and On-Demand Surveys. Always-On allows workers to express their concerns at any time and On-Demand Surveys gives managers and executives the opportunity to perform quick, ad hoc surveys of staffers.

“Some of our companies use the Always-On Survey if they want people on their team to give feedback at any time on a particular topic,” he says.

Firms also use fast feedback for onboarding new hires, Barnett says. Companies have set up Glint’s program to gauge new workers at their 30 and 60 day-mark of their employment to “see how that onboarding experience impacted their engagement,” he says.

Culture Amp also provides fast feedback tools via a library of survey templates that cover a range of employee feedback topics including diversity and inclusion, manager effectiveness, wellness and exit interviews. Culture Amp’s clients include Aligned Leisure, Box, Etsy, McDonalds, Adobe and Yelp.

“We encourage customers to customize surveys to make the language more relevant, and to ensure every question reflects something the company is willing to act on,” says Culture Amp CEO Didier Elzinga.

Culture Amp presents its survey results to employers via a dashboard that displays the top drivers of employee engagement in real time. “Users can then drill down to understand more about each question, including how participants responded across a range of different demographic factors,” Elzinga says.

Sometimes CEOs are presented with news they were not prepared to hear, according to Elzinga. Some customers take to the employee survey process with the mindset of ‘myth busting,’ he says. “They want to know if some truth they hold dear is actually just a story they’ve been telling themselves. Every now and then, an employee survey will provide surprising results to an HR or executive team,” he says. “Whether people go into a survey looking to bust myths or gather baseline data, the important part is being open to accepting the results.”

Glassdoor takes the pulse of its workforce

Glint customer Glassdoor, the online job recruitment site that also allows visitors to anonymously rate their current employer’s work environment, compensation and culture, not only urges its employees to rate the firm using its own tools, the company also uses Glint’s software to view employee engagement at a more granular level.

Glassdoor conducted its first Glint Pulse in October 2016 and has rolled out three since then. The next is scheduled for January 2018, according to Marca Clarke, director of learning and organizational development at Glassdoor.

“We looked at employee engagement and the things that drive discretionary effort [among employees who work harder],” Clarke says. “This is strongly correlated with retention as well.”

Clarke said that one Glint Pulse found that the employees’ view of Glassdoor culture varied from location to location. Of its 700-person workforce, people working in the newer satellite offices were happier than the employees in its Mill Valley, Calif., headquarters. She speculates that this response could be due to newer, more eager employees hired in brand new, recently opened offices.

“People think culture is monolithic that should be felt across the company but we could see that there was some variation from office to office. With Glint, we were able to slice the data not just by region and job function but [we could] go to the manager level to look at how people with different performance ratings think about the culture,” she says.

Recent research from Aon Hewitt found that a 5% increase in employee engagement is linked to a 3% lift in revenue a year later. According to Barnett, Glint clients that regularly conduct surveys and take steps to engage their employees often see a boost in the price of their company shares.

“Companies in the top quartile of Glint scores last year [saw] their stock outperform the other companies by 40%,” he says. “They now have the data and can see that employee engagement and the overall employee experience really do you have a dramatic impact on the result of their company.”

 

Read the original article.

Source:
Albinus P. (5 December 2017). "Employers using fast-feedback apps to measure worker satisfaction, engagement" [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/news/employers-using-fast-feedback-apps-to-measure-worker-satisfaction-engagement?brief=00000152-1443-d1cc-a5fa-7cfba3c60000

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9 things to leave off your LinkedIn

In our rapid-fire digital age, the Internet has completely revamped the way we traditionally look at recruiting. Resumes are sent as PDFs, online portfolios reign supreme, and LinkedIn has become the new Facebook for recruiters in every industry.

Wondering what you shouldn’t include on your LinkedIn profile in order to appear as marketable as possible to potential employers? Read on to find out.

1. Job titles that don’t say what you really do

When trying to describe your previous positions, it works to your advantage to be as precise as possible. That way, recruiters know exactly what your skillset is, and how it might fit into their company.

2. Your age

Unfortunately, some people have reservations hiring someone they think is either too young or too old. Don’t get knocked out of the running for a job by including school graduation years or other age identifiers.

3. Bad spelling, punctuation, and grammar

When writing up descriptions of your responsibilities in each job, take care to avoid punctuation, grammar, or spelling mistakes. Look at it as a test of your writing and communication abilities—highlighted for everyone to see.

4. A goofy profile photo

Unfortunately, some people don’t seem to realize that LinkedIn is not the place to put a goofy or odd profile photo—unless you’re looking for a job at the local comedy club. Spend a little money on getting a quality headshot that will impress those who see it, not make them wonder if you’re a serious candidate.

5. References from previous positions

There’s no reason to include references with phone numbers or contact information on your LinkedIn page. If an employer is really interested in hiring you, they’ll contact you for them directly. However, do encourage people you’ve worked with or for to leave recommendations for you on your LinkedIn profile page. They can really make you stand out from other candidates.

6. Salary or pay

One of the most unprofessional things you can do is include your salary for each position you held at various companies on your LinkedIn profile page. Unless you’re asked, it doesn’t make sense to disclose such personal information on such a public platform.

7. High school jobs

Unless you just graduated from high school, then jobs you had in high school (or earlier!) don’t belong on your professional LinkedIn page. While you may have enjoyed your summer job flipping burgers or mowing lawns, it’s not going to make much of an impression on someone who’s doing the hiring for a position with much greater responsibilities. It’s much better to put your best foot forward by showcasing standout roles in more recent jobs.

8. Personal information

Refrain from adding information about your ethnicity, religious affiliation, political party, or other potentially sensitive or controversial information. Regardless of how open-minded your recruiter may be, saying less is definitely safer than saying too much when you don’t know your audience.

9. Unprofessional posts or memes

Don’t forget that your LinkedIn profile and any posts you make on LinkedIn are potentially going to be viewed by the very person who is going to interview you for your dream job. What do your posts say about you? What about those funny memes (silly cat photos and so forth) that everyone seems to be passing around today? Will they make the interviewer even more excited to make you a job offer, or stay far away?

 

Read the original article.

 

Source:

Economy P. (4 December 2017). "9 things to leave off your LinkedIn" [web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://workwell.unum.com/2017/12/9-things-to-leave-off-your-linkedin/


5 ways digital tools can help build a better benefits package

"...digital tools can be excellent motivators and are a popular option for keeping employees to their wellness objectives..." In this article from Employee Benefit Advisor, we get a fantastic look at some statistics and digital tools to create better employee engagement.


The American workforce has an employee engagement problem: Half of U.S. workers are disengaged, according to a recent Gallup poll. That not only has a detrimental effect on individual wellness, but on company culture and the bottom line. According to The Engagement Institute, disengaged employees cost organizations between $450 and $550 billion every year. In addition to being less productive, they’re also more likely to quit.

One of the most effective ways to improve employee engagement is to offer better benefits. In fact, research conducted by Willis Towers Watson found 75% of employees said they were more likely to stay with their employer because of their benefit program. This demonstrates the value of designing an employee benefits package that really works for your staff. And to even better engage workers with benefits, employers should utilize HR apps and employee wellness software.

They vary in functionality, device compatibility, and of course price, but they all share five considerable advantages:

They’re highly adaptable. Unlike programs that rely on in-person use or resources that are primarily stored in binders, digital content can be updated on the fly. This flexibility makes it very easy to keep the information current and relevant, and it even opens the door to personalized benefits. For instance, if each employee has their own login, they can bookmark the resources they find most useful and receive suggestions based on those picks. Seventy-two percent of employees in a MetLife survey say being able to customize their benefits would increase their loyalty to their current employer, which makes this perk doubly advantageous.

They’re fully integrative. One major complaint employees have is that their health information is so disjointed. Dental, physical, psychological and nutritional data is siloed, creating a cumbersome situation for employees when it comes to accessing and updating their records. Digital tools neatly solve this problem by collecting all these resources in one place. All employees have to do is sign into one account to view all their health-related resources, benefits, emergency phone numbers, enrolment information, health savings account balance and so on.

They’re constantly accessible. Have you noticed your staff using fewer and fewer benefits over time? It’s easy to assume they’ve lost interest, but chances are they’ve simply forgotten what’s available to them. Digital tools are a fantastic way of combating that attrition for a couple of reasons. First, they’re super easy to access because they can be used essentially anytime, anywhere. The second reason your staff is more likely to continue using their benefits with a digital platform is because it can serve them with notifications and reminders. They no longer have the excuse of being unaware when fresh content is added, or missing medical appointments.

They encourage employee goals. To add to the previous point, digital tools can be excellent motivators and are a popular option for keeping employees to their wellness objectives. Two of the most common goals are weight loss and smoking cessation, but your employees can use calendar, reminders, notes, fitness trackers and other features to push them toward any goal they like.

They’re easily scalable. Finally, digital tools are the most efficient way of reaching a large employee base, especially if they’re spread over a large geographical distance. It’s impossible to expect a thousand employees located in different states to attend a stress management seminar, for example, but it’s not unreasonable to ask them to watch a five minute video or listen to a podcast. Digital resources are changing the game when it comes to reaching all employees equally so that no one gets left behind.

Some things to keep in mind

Now that you’ve been convinced to digitize your employee wellness program, there are a couple of assurances you should make. The first is confidentiality. Your employees need to feel safe accessing your health resources, so guaranteeing the security and privacy of their information is a must. You should also make accommodations for various accessibility concerns. In other words, having all your resources in video format isn’t helpful for employees who are visually impaired. Also be aware of the different situations in which your staff might need access (at home, on the go, with or without an internet connection, etc) to ensure maximum ease of use.

Why is this all so important? As cool and cutting-edge as many of these digital tools are, at the end of the day your goal is to promote employee well-being and engagement. Anything that encourages your staff to come into work with a smile on their faces is worthwhile. Gallup studies have shown highly engaged organizations are 21% more profitable, 17% more productive, and achieve a 41% reduction in absenteeism. No matter how effective your current benefits package is, you can — and should — take it to the next level with a digital program.

 

Read the original article.

Source:
Mittag A. (17 November 2017). "5 ways digital tools can help build a better benefits package" [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/opinion/5-ways-digital-tools-can-help-build-a-better-benefits-package?feed=00000152-1387-d1cc-a5fa-7fffaf8f0000

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Collaborative Innovation Is Necessary To Advance In Health Care

Technology has taken over the modern way-of-life, and it definitely hasn't stopped in health care. Check out this intriguing articles from Forbes on why collaboration between tech and health care may just be necessary for the progression of wellness.

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As health needs grow, it is imperative that innovation is at the frontier of change, to keep the health needs and requirements of the 21st century scalable. For innovation in health care to be sustained at an economically and fiscally responsible pace, it has to be a collaborative effort, requiring input from diverse stakeholders and key players in the industry. A collaborative health care system that includes information sharing, cross-industry cooperation and open innovation can lead to beneficial industry practices like cost reduction and time efficiency. Together, these practices set a precedent for growth and development at a more rapid pace.

An Efficient Method Of Doing Things

Toeing the line of technology advancements, innovation within the health care system has pioneered the development of cost-efficient, highly-optimized pragmatic solutions to many industry and individual health challenges. Artificial retinasrobotic nurses and gene therapy are just a few examples of plentiful recent innovations. These innovative technologies pose solutions to medical feats that, in the past, have overwhelmed medical practitioners, and thereby are expected to permit better health care delivery to patients and the global population. However, for these new advancements to be successfully implemented and established within the health care system, they must be met with collaboration and cooperation.

Creating A Synergistic Environment

Open, collective innovation like Project Data Sphere, designed to collate big data and bridge the distant segments of the health care industry, markup the necessity of innovation in the sector. In the case of Project Data Sphere, the goal is to facilitate the creation of a connected health care network bereft of the many loopholes characteristic of the system. Interoperability between key segments of the industry has always been a rate limiting factor. A unified platform capable of linking these segments together can have a significant impact on the sector.

Multiple companies are undertaking projects to build "cloud-based, big data platform" solutions that manage data to give the health industry the necessary edge it needs to manage itself. This ranges from cloud-based platforms powered by libraries of clinical, social and behavioral analytics utilized for sharing information across multiple hospitals, to using big data and advanced analytics for clinical improvements, financial analysis and fraud and waste monitoring.

Collaborating To Go Digital

Concurrent with the world’s continued adoption of digital technologies is the rapid expansion of the digital health care market — an expansion fostered by collaboration among global leaders of digital innovation in the health care industry. The partnership between major players in both the private and public sectors has engineered a growing list of innovative digital health care solutions.

Just last year an Israeli-based pharmaceutical company joined forces with Santa Clara, California-based Intel to develop wearables that routinely record and analyze symptoms of Huntington’s disease. The data collected is processed to help grade motor symptom severity associated with the disease.

Most times, singular organizations lack the human and financial resources to orchestrate grand schemes of innovation alone — but collaboration presents a practical route to overcoming the limitations that hinder novelty, leading to quicker turnarounds and advancements.

Scaling The Barriers To Innovation

If the push for innovation in the health care system is to thrive, then the complexities and obstacles that have continually stifled progress must be confronted. Aside from collaboration, other notable barriers to innovation include:

• The immediate return mentality: By default, most leaders show a preference for innovative solutions that offer immediate financial rewards. Innovative solutions with brighter prospects but long term financial incentives are in most instances placed on a back burner.

• Bureaucracy in the distributive network:Innovators have to wade through multiple third parties if they are to stand any chance of getting their products to the end user, a process that is not only daunting but financially implicative.

• Stringent regulatory practices: In addition to scaling through the bureaucracy, innovative solutions looking to make a market appearance have to pass several screenings, some of which have been tagged redundant by experts.

Innovation is a necessary tool in the health care sector that gives an essential boost to scale insurmountable obstacles and limitations. For health care to evolve into a more sophisticated and efficient system, cross-industry collaboration and inter-professional cooperation must become the norm.

 

You can read the original article here.

Source:

Pando A. (19 September 2017). "Collaborative Innovation Is Necessary To Advance In Health Care" [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2017/09/19/collaborative-innovation-is-necessary-to-advance-in-health-care/2/#6743d07669c9


Pagers, AI, And Google: 3 Tales Of Technology And Medicine

 As a society, we owe technology applause for helping improve our medical abilities tenfold. Today, we thought it would be fun to take a look back on how technological advancements have succeeded in making our medicine better than ever, and how they continue to do so. Take a moment of your time to read this article from Forbes on Pagers, AI, and Google.


Medicine and technological advancement have been intimately intertwined, from the invention of the stethoscope to the latest innovations in MRI scanning. But the road isn’t always smooth. There can be interesting bumps and glitches along the way, as illustrated by these three recent stories.

1) Old tech can linger

The Guardian recently reported that the UK National Health Service uses more than 10% of the world’s pagers. The pagers cost £6.6 million ($8.9 million) per year. Furthermore, the UK will soon only have one provider of pagers nationwide after Vodafone exits the market.

One critic noted, “Taxpayers will wonder why the NHS is spending millions on outdated technology, especially at a time when savings need to be made.”

As a young doctor in the 1990s, I carried a pager. But nowadays, most physicians I know use cell phones to take emergency calls. However, The Guardian notes that there are still a few advantages to pagers, namely:

...[S]lightly more reliability. Where mobile phone networks can be patchy, or slow, or overloaded, the separate paging network offers a modest improvement in reception and reach, especially in rural areas. Compared with modern smartphones, pager batteries also last much longer.

I can see pagers lingering on for special niche applications. But for most people, their time has passed.

By Jakez (Own work), Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

An old pager/beeper.

2) New tech can be overhyped

I believe that artificial intelligence (AI) will some day have a major impact in the practice of medicine. But STAT News reporters Casey Ross and Ike Swetlitz have described how the IBM Watson AI system “isn’t living up to the lofty expectations IBM created for it.”

Specifically, the Watson for Oncology was intended to help improve cancer care by helping physician with treatment recommendations based on the best available worldwide data

Ross and Swetlitz reported:

While it has emphatically marketed Watson for cancer care, IBM hasn’t published any scientific papers demonstrating how the technology affects physicians and patients. As a result, its flaws are getting exposed on the front lines of care by doctors and researchers who say that the system, while promising in some respects, remains undeveloped...

Perhaps the most stunning overreach is in the company’s claim that Watson for Oncology, through artificial intelligence, can sift through reams of data to generate new insights and identify, as an IBM sales rep put it, “even new approaches” to cancer care. STAT found that the system doesn’t create new knowledge and is artificially intelligent only in the most rudimentary sense of the term.

Because of problems with Watson, the highly-regarded MD Anderson Cancer Center (part of the University of Texas) cancelled its partnership with Watson “amid internal allegations of overspending, delays, and mismanagement.”

I still believe that AI will revolutionize medical care, even if specific products might not (yet) be ready for prime time. I take heart in the fact that the Apple Newton was also a product not ready for prime time — but it did set the stage for the much more successful Apple iPhone and the current mobile technology revolution. Similarly, I think the long-term future of medical AI remains bright, even if specific products may struggle to meet expectations.

3) Current technology can alter the doctor-patient relationship in unexpected ways

Many patients routinely use search engines like Google to find good doctors or to learn more about their physician’s professional qualifications. But to what extent should doctors be searching for information on their patients?

Erene Stergiopoulos discusses this issue in a fascinating essay, “Getting Googled by Your Doctor”:

Searching for patients’ information online gives physicians a way to gather collateral data about a patient who either cannot or will not communicate important clinical information, says Paul Appelbaum, a psychiatrist, professor at Columbia University, and world expert in medical ethics and the law...

That online collateral information is especially useful [in the acute setting, Applebaum] says, where patients may be psychotic, intoxicated, or suicidal. In these acute settings, social media can provide clinicians with valuable context to make decisions — whether the patient uses drugs or alcohol, has self-harmed, or has family support...

However, Stergiopoulos notes that patients can feel betrayed if content from their social media posts ends up in their medical record without their consent.

Furthermore, this can create medico-legal problems:

As more and more providers Google to guide their decisions, they may be shifting the clinical standards to which all practitioners are held... If practitioners neglect that standard, and something preventable goes wrong, they risk accusations of malpractice. In other words, if patient-targeted online searches become the new standard of care, then clinicians could become liable for information patients post online. If a patient leaves a suicidal message on Facebook, and the clinician misses it, there’s a future — seemingly more plausible by the day — in which that clinician could be sued for malpractice if the patient then attempts suicide.

In informal discussions with other health professionals, some colleagues have said they never Google their patients. Others do so selectively. Yet others consider it a legitimate part of conscientious medical practice. And some physicians feel strongly that if patients can Google their doctors, they as physicians should similarly be able to Google their patients.

Clearly, this is an area where medical and legal standards are still evolving. In the meantime, if patients are uncomfortable with their physicians Googling them, they might wish to make their preferences clear ahead of time, before they and their doctor suffer a misunderstanding.

You can read the original article here.
Source:
Hsieh P. (25 September 2017). "Pagers, AI, And Google: 3 Tales Of Technology And Medecine" [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.forbes.com/sites/paulhsieh/2017/09/25/pagers-ai-and-google/3/#67ac15ab7a47

CC0 License ✓ Free for personal and commercial use ✓ No attribution required

Apple, Fitbit to join FDA program to speed health tech

Wondering how technology can speed the process of developing health tech? In this article from BenefitsPro written by Anna Edney, gain a close insight on how Apple and Fitbit are working together with the FDA to make your health of vital importance.

You can read the original article here.


A federal agency that regulates apples wants to make regulations on Apple Inc. a little easier.

The Food and Drug Administration, which oversees new drugs, medical devices and much of the U.S. food supply, said Tuesday that it had selected nine major tech companies for a pilot program that may let them avoid some regulations that have tied up developers working on health software and products.

“We need to modernize our regulatory framework so that it matches the kind of innovation we’re being asked to evaluate,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement.

The program is meant to let the companies get products pre-cleared rather than going through the agency’s standard application and approval process that can take months. Along with Apple, Fitbit Inc., Samsung Electronics Co., Verily Life Sciences, Johnson & Johnson and Roche Holding AG will participate.

 

A new report and video from the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO) identifies six promising practices for effectively integrating wearables...
The FDA program is meant to help the companies more rapidly develop new products while maintaining some government oversight of technology that may be used by patients or their doctors to prevent, diagnose and treat conditions.

Apple is studying whether its watch can detect heart abnormalities. The process it will go through to make sure it’s using sound quality metrics and other measures won’t be as costly and time-consuming as when the government clears a new pacemaker, for example. Verily, the life sciences arm of Google parent Alphabet Inc., is working with Novartis AG to develop a contact lens that could continuously monitor the body’s blood sugar.

Faster Pace

“Historically, health care has been slow to implement disruptive technology tools that have transformed other areas of commerce and daily life,” Gottlieb said in July when he announced that digital health manufacturers could apply for the pilot program.

Officially dubbed the Pre-Cert for Software Pilot, Gottlieb at the time called it “a new and pragmatic approach to digital health technology.”

The other companies included in the pilot are Pear Therapeutics Inc., Phosphorus Inc. and Tidepool.

The program is part of a broader move at the FDA, particularly since Gottlieb took over in May, to streamline regulation and get medical products to patients faster. The commissioner said last week the agency will clarify how drugmakers might use data from treatments already approved in some disease to gain approvals for more conditions. In July, he delayed oversight of electronic cigarettes while the agency decides what information it will need from makers of the products.

Rules Uncertainty

As Silicon Valley developers have pushed into health care, the industry has been at times uncertain about when it needed the FDA’s approval. In 2013, the consumer gene-testing company 23andMe Inc. was ordered by the agency to temporarily stop selling its health analysis product until it was cleared by regulators, for example.

Under the pilot, the FDA will scrutinize digital health companies’ software and will inspect their facilities to ensure they meet quality standards and can adequately track their products once they’re on the market. If they pass the agency’s audits, the companies would be pre-certified and may face a less stringent approval process or not have to go through FDA approval at all.

More than 100 companies were interested in the pilot, according to the FDA. The agency plans to hold a public workshop on the program in January to help developers not in the pilot understand the process and four months of initial findings.

You can read the original article here.

Source:

Edeny A. (27 September 2017). "Apple, Fitbit to join FDA program to speed health tech" [Web Blog Post]. Retrieved from address http://www.benefitspro.com/2017/09/27/apple-fitbit-to-join-fda-program-to-speed-health-t

 


How data analytics is changing employee benefit strategies

As technology continues to grow and expand, more employers are turning to digital platforms when it comes to managing their employee benefits program. With more access to technology, employers can use data accumulated from their employees to better personalize their employee benefits package to fit each individual's needs. Take a look at this column by Eric Helman from Employee Benefit Advisor and find out some more tips on how you can better leverage the data from an employee benefits program to fit your employees'es needs.

In the realm of employee benefits, surveys, focus groups and anecdotes about specific employee encounters with the benefits program typically drive the discussions about how that program should evolve in the future. Unlike the situation at Outback, it is difficult to “observe” how people actually consume benefits and tailor a program that is attractive to them.

Fortunately, recent developments in data analytics have unlocked the potential of using consumer behavior insights to drive employee benefits strategy.

Leading practitioners are beginning to leverage these developments to change the annual renewal process. The technologies that support data aggregation, normalization and reporting have been aggressively developed to support the provider and payer communities. Only now have these advancements been made available to employers and their advisers.

The most successful practitioners point to the value of standardized claims reporting based upon credible data. By combining current claims data with industry benchmarks and predictive analytics, employers gain insight into the ongoing performance of their benefit plans. They “see” for themselves what industry professionals have been telling them for years. Plan performance is based upon claims, both in terms of the number of units of healthcare consumed and the price of those units. In recent surveys, benefit professionals report the difficulty they have in convincing CFOs and CEOs to make the necessary changes to benefit programs. Standardized reporting from a credible analytics platform can greatly enhance the ability for benefit professionals to communicate their agenda.

But standardized reporting is not the panacea. Benefits are complex. And the relationship between risk and consumption of healthcare add to the complexity. Even in the best reporting environments where executives are well informed about the performance of their plans and how the key metrics compare to industry norms, they are often perplexed about what to do with the information. Advancements in the realm of “actionable analytics” are beginning to address this problem as well.

While artificial intelligence or AI is all the rage, the underlying concept of having a computer suggest a course of action based upon data is not a new idea. The new application to employee benefits is the ability to provide “suggestions” in the context of standardized financial reporting. The number of ideas to bend the cost curve are numerous. The challenge is matching these ideas with the appropriate populations, convincing decision makers to invest and engaging the appropriate cohorts of employees to take specific actions necessary to realize the return on investment for these initiatives.

New systems are now available to close the gaps on this execution continuum. The foundation for these new systems is a robust analytics platform. But actionable analytics build upon this foundation by evaluating the employer’s data to discern whether a specific cost-saving initiative might generate savings worthy of the investment. These new systems present the output of that analysis in an easy to understand graphical format for benefit consultants and HR professionals to effectively communicate the potential of cost savings initiatives to decision makers.

Targeted engagement maximizes compliance and ROI
Getting executives to commit to intentional actions to affect the rising costs of benefits solves one half of the problem. The second half of the problem is one of focus. Rather than attempting to engage all employees with generalized messaging, these new systems use analytics to focus their engagement on a specific cohort of individuals in order to drive the greatest impact. This focus allows for a concentration of resources on the targeted populations, resulting in increased compliance and larger return on investment. The best implementations are integrated with benefits administration platforms and can incorporate multiple initiatives simultaneously. Point solutions, from an engagement perspective, have been proven to result in single-digit compliance. The power of an integrated engagement solution allows for initiatives that, because they are both focused and automated, can be executed simultaneously.

Advancements in technology have created a new era in which the democratization of big data allows for non-technical professionals to access detailed information and convert that information into intelligence. According to a recent survey, more than 65% of employers confess they are not strategic when it comes to benefits cost management. In spite of the many cost savings ideas available, more than 40% say they are not engaging in any new initiatives in the upcoming year. While the future of healthcare reform is in doubt, the potential for actionable analytics to significantly change the trajectory of the employer’s benefits costs is certain.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Helman E.  (2017 September 5). How data analytics is changing employee benefit strategies [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/opinion/closing-the-execution-continuum-on-employee-benefit-cost-savings


4 Trends Shaping Cybersecurity in 2017

The threat of cyber attacks is increasing every day. Make sure you are stay up-to-date with all the recent news and trends happening in the world of cyber security so you can stay informed on how to protect yourself from cyber threats. Check out this great column by Denny Jacob from Property Casualty 360 and find out about the top 4 trends impacting cybersecurity this year.

No. 4: Growing areas of concern

Organizations with a chief information security officer (CISO) in 2017 increased to 65 percent compared to 50 percent in 2016. Staffing challenges and budgetary distribution, however, reveal where organizations face exposure.

Finding qualified personnel to fill cybersecurity positions is as ongoing challenge. For example, one-third of study respondents note that their enterprises receive more than 10 applicants for an open position. More than half of those applicants, however, are unqualified. Even skilled applicants require time and training before their job performance is up to par with others who are already working on the company's cybersecurity operation.

Half of the study respondents reported security budgets will increase in 2017, which is down from 65 percent of respondents who reported an increase in 2016. This, along with staffing challenges, has many enterprises reliant on both automation and external resources to offset missing skills on the cybersecurity team.

Another challenge: Relying on third-party vendors means there must be funds available to offset any personnel shortage.

If the skills gap continues unabated and the funding for automation and external third-party support is reduced, businesses will struggle to fill their cybersecurity needs.

No. 3: More complicated cyber threats

Faced with declining budgets, businesses will have less funding available on a per-attack basis. Meanwhile, the number of attacks is growing, and they are becoming more sophisticated.

More than half (53 percent) of respondents noted an increase in the overall number of attacks compared previous years. Only half (roughly 50 percent) said their companies executed a cybersecurity incident response plan in 2016.

Here are some additional findings regarding the recent uptick in cyber breaches:

• 10 percent of respondents reported experiencing a hijacking of corporate assets for botnet use;• 18 percent reported experiencing an advanced persistent threat (APT) attack; and

• 14 percent reported stolen credentials.

• Last year’s results for the three types of attacks were:

• 15 percent for botnet use;

• 25 percent for APT attacks; and

•15 percent involving stolen credentials.

Phishing (40 percent), malware (37 percent) and social engineering (29 percent) continue to top the charts in terms of the specific types of attacks, although their overall frequency of occurrence decreased: Although attacks are up overall, the number of attacks in these three categories is down.

No. 2: Mobile takes a backseat to IoT

Businesses are now more sophisticated in the mobile arena. The proof: Cyber breaches resulting from mobile devices are down. Only 13 percent of respondents cite lost mobile devices as an exploitation vector in 2016, compared to 34 percent in 2015. Encryption factors into the decrease; only 9 percent indicated that lost or stolen mobile devices were unencrypted.

IoT continues to rise as an area of concern. Three out of five (59 percent) of the 2016 respondents cite some level of concern relative to IoT, while an additional 30 percent are either "extremely concerned" or "very concerned" about this exposure.

IoT is an increasingly important element in governance, risk and cybersecurity activities. This is a challenging area for many, because traditional security efforts may not already cover the functions and devices feeding this digital trend.

No. 1: Ransomware is the new normal

The number of code attacks, including ransomware attacks, remains high: 62 percent of respondents reported their enterprises experienced a ransomware attackspecifically.

Half of the respondents believe financial gain is the biggest motivator for criminals, followed by disruption of service (45 percent) and theft of personally identifiable information (37 percent). Despite this trend, only 53 percent of respondents' companies have a formal process in place to deal with ransomware attacks.

What does that look like?

Businesses can conduct "tabletop" exercises that stage a ransomware event or discuss in advance decisions about payment vs. non-payment. Payment may seem like the easiest solution, but law enforcement agencies warn it can have an encouraging effect on those criminals as some cases lead to repeated attacks of the same business.

Many cybersecurity specialists argue that the best way to fight a ransomware attack is to avoid one in the first place. Advance planning that might include the implementation of a governing corporate policy or other operating parameters, can help to ensure that the best cybersecurity decisions are made when the time comes to battle a breach.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Jacob D. (2017 August 25). 4 trends shaping cybersecurity in 2017 [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.benefitspro.com/2017/08/25/4-trends-shaping-cybersecurity-in-2017?ref=hp-in-depth&page_all=1


Closing the execution continuum on employee benefit cost savings

Are you using big data to reduce your employee benefits costs? As more employers switch their employee benefits to a digital platform, big data can be a great tool for employers looking to reduce the costs associated with their benefits program. Check out this great article by Eric Helman from Employee Benefit Advisor and found out how you can leverage your data to reduce to cost of an employee benefit program.

A revolution in employee benefits is on the horizon, and 21st century analytics is at the core. Big data holds the promise to scan huge amounts of information in a near real-time environment for insights that will impact the current and future trajectory for a given area. The advancement of true cross-vendor analytics, prescription, engagement and measurement brought on by the democratization of big data is enabling employers, brokers and consultants to improve the performance of their employee benefits plans like never before.

Two decades ago, I had the opportunity to hear Chris Sullivan, one of the founders of Outback Steakhouse, speak to a group of executives about customer research. His sentiments: “We don’t do focus groups. People don’t know what they want. Who would say they would like to stand in line for 30 minutes to eat salty food in a very loud restaurant? But that is exactly what they wanted. And that is what made Outback a success. Instead of focus groups, we place very talented and engaged proprietors in our stores and teach them to observe what people want. Then, we replicate that experience.”

In the realm of employee benefits, surveys, focus groups and anecdotes about specific employee encounters with the benefits program typically drive the discussions about how that program should evolve in the future. Unlike the situation at Outback, it is difficult to “observe” how people actually consume benefits and tailor a program that is attractive to them.

Analytics drive strategy 
Fortunately, recent developments in data analytics have unlocked the potential of using consumer behavior insights to drive employee benefits strategy. Leading practitioners are beginning to leverage these developments to change the annual renewal process. The technologies that support data aggregation, normalization and reporting have been aggressively developed to support the provider and payer communities. Only now have these advancements been made available to employers and their advisers.

The most successful practitioners point to the value of standardized claims reporting based upon credible data. By combining current claims data with industry benchmarks and predictive analytics, employers gain insight into the ongoing performance of their benefit plans. They “see” for themselves what industry professionals have been telling them for years. Plan performance is based upon claims, both in terms of the number of units of healthcare consumed and the price of those units. In recent surveys, benefit professionals report the difficulty they have in convincing CFOs and CEOs to make the necessary changes to benefit programs. Standardized reporting from a credible analytics platform can greatly enhance the ability for benefit professionals to communicate their agenda.

But standardized reporting is not the panacea. Benefits are complex. And the relationship between risk and consumption of healthcare add to the complexity. Even in the best reporting environments where executives are well informed about the performance of their plans and how the key metrics compare to industry norms, they are often perplexed about what to do with the information. Advancements in the realm of “actionable analytics” are beginning to address this problem as well.

While artificial intelligence or AI is all the rage, the underlying concept of having a computer suggest a course of action based upon data is not a new idea. The new application to employee benefits is the ability to provide “suggestions” in the context of standardized financial reporting. The number of ideas to bend the cost curve are numerous. The challenge is matching these ideas with the appropriate populations, convincing decision makers to invest and engaging the appropriate cohorts of employees to take specific actions necessary to realize the return on investment for these initiatives.

New systems are now available to close the gaps on this execution continuum. The foundation for these new systems is a robust analytics platform. But actionable analytics build upon this foundation by evaluating the employer’s data to discern whether a specific cost-saving initiative might generate savings worthy of the investment. These new systems present the output of that analysis in an easy to understand graphical format for benefit consultants and HR professionals to effectively communicate the potential of cost savings initiatives to decision makers.

Targeted engagement maximizes compliance and ROI
Getting executives to commit to intentional actions to affect the rising costs of benefits solves one half of the problem. The second half of the problem is one of focus. Rather than attempting to engage all employees with generalized messaging, these new systems use analytics to focus their engagement on a specific cohort of individuals in order to drive the greatest impact. This focus allows for a concentration of resources on the targeted populations, resulting in increased compliance and larger return on investment. The best implementations are integrated with benefits administration platforms and can incorporate multiple initiatives simultaneously. Point solutions, from an engagement perspective, have been proven to result in single-digit compliance. The power of an integrated engagement solution allows for initiatives that, because they are both focused and automated, can be executed simultaneously.

Advancements in technology have created a new era in which the democratization of big data allows for non-technical professionals to access detailed information and convert that information into intelligence. According to a recent survey, more than 65% of employers confess they are not strategic when it comes to benefits cost management. In spite of the many cost savings ideas available, more than 40% say they are not engaging in any new initiatives in the upcoming year. While the future of healthcare reform is in doubt, the potential for actionable analytics to significantly change the trajectory of the employer’s benefits costs is certain.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Helman E. (2017 September 5). Closing the execution continuum on employee benefit cost savings [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/opinion/closing-the-execution-continuum-on-employee-benefit-cost-savings?brief=00000152-146e-d1cc-a5fa-7cff8fee0000