This software may predict if an employee is about to get sick

What if employers could identify how many of their workers are high risk for diabetes, stroke and other conditions?

That’s the question Springbuk wants to answer — using AI-driven predictive models and employee health data.

The software company recently updated its Health Intelligence platform to help employers forecast and analyze if their population is at risk for certain health issues. Rod Reasen, co-founder and CEO of Springbuk, says it’s not enough for employers to have access to large amounts of population health data, they need technology that makes it simple enough for the average person to understand.

“So many employers — to the tune of almost $100 billion — are doing something called population health,” he says. “They want to reduce healthcare costs, yet they still want to make an investment in improving the health of the employee. So they are trying to figure out where to take that investment and put it where it is most appropriate.”

The Health Intelligence software looks at claims data to determine how many employees are at risk for a health condition. For example, hypothyroidism is often underdiagnosed but can have a big impact on work performance, says Amy Brown, Springbuk vice president of Health Intelligence. The tool can identify individuals that may be showing symptoms of hypothyroidism, like sluggishness or weight gain, and may want to get tested.

“Once it’s identified, it’s basically a $10 drug, and that member will feel better and be more productive at work,” she says. “It benefits the employer and the member. It’s sort of a win-win situation.”

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The software also can identify potential areas for cost savings. For example, the tool might help employers determine how much money they spent on avoidable ER visits and why those visits occurred. HR managers can then take that information and use it to determine the types of health programs could be useful in the office, Brown says.

“An HR person might want to know what are the population health trends for my members and then, based on that, which disease management programs would make the most sense onsite,” she adds.

Springbuk also has the ability to develop custom insights for an employer and answer specific questions based on their interests, Brown says.

“Some folks will be like, ‘Wow, we’re in a really rural area and air ambulance is a big problem for us.’ We could set up an insight that isolates out that issue and helps to target those members who seem to be going down that path,” she says.

Employers are looking for better ways to harness their health data and tech companies have taken notice. For example, Fitbit offers Fitbit Care, a wellness program that provides — with consent — employee data on steps, distance, active minutes and sleep to employers.

In an opinion piece for Employee Benefit News, Angie Villamaria, director of solution consulting for software company Welltok, says that in order to make things like wellness programs work, employers need to look beyond traditional health data sources. For example, she says, looking at consumer data like the length of a worker’s commute or how many people live in their household, could help an employer get a better picture of how they are likely to engage with their health.

“Combining this consumer data with traditional healthcare data tells a different story about the people employers are trying to connect with and help,” she says.

Springbuk declined to share the names of the employers using its platform, but Reasen says its client base includes automobile and electronic manufacturers and a streaming service.

Reasen says the company hopes it can put healthcare data into context for employers so they can use it to lower costs and help their population get healthier. Too often, employers don’t know how to use the data they’re given, he says.

“Our big thesis is let's show people what they need to know and build a software system that shows them the problems. Instead of giving them a system where they've got to go find the problems themselves,” he says.

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