Healthtech—the industry using tech to improve healthcare—has exploded during the past decade with a market ranging between $75B to $106B annually. From fitness trackers to telehealth to online pharmacies, healthtech encompasses a broad swath of services and solutions aimed at building a healthier society. With its focus on convenience, innovation, and personalization, it’s no wonder that healthtech’s popularity continues to rise and ultimately inform the future of health and healthcare in the U.S.
“The inherent inefficiencies, opacity, and complexity in our domestic healthcare system alone, not to mention the global system, create an environment ripe for disruption,” says MyHealthMath Chief Technology Officer, Dave Widener, MBA. “Artificial intelligence and machine learning generate new ways to address old problems, creating an ecosystem with almost limitless potential for change. All of this adds up to a recipe for serious growth.”
Hospitals, pharmacies, and personal health apps are already capitalizing on healthtech’s growth surge. The health benefits space is no exception. Now more than ever, benefit and HR teams should focus on healthtech products, taking advantage of innovative solutions that can supercharge their work and the industry as a whole.
Here’s why healthtech matters to benefit and HR teams:
It can reinvigorate workplace health and wellness initiatives
In the 1970s, workplace wellness programs started to crop up as employers learned about the costs of unhealthy employees and U.S. culture began to prioritize health and fitness. Healthier employees have fewer sick days and are more productive. And they’re happier, which further increases productivity while contributing to higher job satisfaction and a more positive workplace culture.
These advantages mean that health and wellness programs are here to stay. But HR professionals may struggle to find meaningful solutions that speak to a rapidly changing workplace. Enter healthtech. From health communications software to biometric screening tools, employers can mine the healthtech space for products that rapidly enhance their wellness programs.
Employee health benefits is another area primed for innovation. Digital solutions that optimize the performance of employee health benefit plans and programs sit squarely in the healthtech landscape. These solutions, called decision support, help employees understand their health benefits, which increases access to healthcare and promotes overall health and wellbeing. As a result, decision support also encourages a better work environment: After all, the better that health plans perform for employees, the more engaged, satisfied, and valued the employees feel.
It can improve recruitment and retention
It almost goes without saying, but creating a healthier, happier workplace is central for recruitment and retention efforts. Improving health benefits is one of the biggest levers for creating a more attractive workplace. In fact, according to the Aflac workplace study, 35 percent of employees say that improving their benefits package is the one thing their employer could do to keep them in their jobs—second only to increasing their pay.
“Given today’s ultra-competitive job market, employers need to create value wherever they can to compete,” says Widener. “Healthtech that promotes better use of benefits is a major opportunity to add value to the employee experience. It transforms a stressful experience into something simple, comforting, and cost-effective.”
Healthtech related to health benefits is gaining traction
Health plan decision support has been around for years, but the market has been slow to adopt such solutions. However, rapidly increasing healthcare costs are driving the need for better health benefit management, administration, provisioning, and delivery. Employees are fed up with rising health insurance costs and employers are struggling to manage their own budgets (52% of small employers who offer benefits say that they can’t increase wages because of rising health insurance costs).
Decision support tools are a logical solution to the ever-increasing costs dilemma, says Widener. “By helping employees choose better-value health plans, decision support reduces cost inefficiencies, and creates synergistic value across the healthcare market.”
This broader market-wide value has big implications for the future of healthtech and health benefits. The inefficiencies in the health insurance market affect employers’ and health carriers’ bottom line, not just employee healthcare costs. Healthtech products that optimize benefits programs to deliver value to all key stakeholders (employee, employer, and health carrier) is a nascent area within decision support—and one that’s sure to grow quickly. Benefit teams have much to gain from the new innovative solutions already hitting the market, and they can expect to see major advancements as the market grows.