Tech solutions that inspire

Despite my millennial status, I’ve never been that interested in technology. New gadgets? Standing in line for the latest iPhone? Frequently downloading apps? Not really my bag.

But, after talking to digital innovators who are making a difference in healthcare, I have a new attitude.

Poring through dozens of nominations for the Benefits Technology Innovators Awards, which EBN does in partnership with SourceMedia’s Employee Benefit Adviser, I was impressed not only by benefits executives and brokers who are embracing technologies to make their jobs easier and more effective, but by disruptors who are inventing new solutions for employers that are resulting in a happier, healthier and more productive workforce.

Take, for instance, Happify, a digital platform that targets mental health. Through evidence-based techniques, Happify helps employees understand the source of their feelings. Then, it teaches them how to turn negative feelings into positive ones.

“Technology has the ability to provide care in a way employees can access when convenient for them,” Happify co-founder and president Ofer Leidner told me. “From an employer perspective, we’ve seen anywhere from 25% to 50% of employees exhibit elevated levels of stress, depression and anxiety that have gone undiagnosed. Employee emotional health has a huge impact on productivity and effectiveness of the company. The smartest employers are the ones who address emotional well-being in a preventative way — preempting the problem by giving employees access to benefits and plans that help them develop skills like resilience, grit and gratitude.”

Other innovators are targeting such areas as student loans, well-being and transparency — all major pain points for both employers and employees, and areas that, I predict, will only become bigger in the next couple of years. Check out our full list of innovators, and you’ll meet David Klein, the brains behind CommonBond, a company that uses data and technology to lower the cost of student loans; Jason Langheier, founder and CEO of Zipongo, which offers employees healthy food options via mobile device, whether users are grocery shopping, eating in their workplace cafeteria or out at a restaurant; and Bill Hennessey, who founded Pratter, a medical cost savings and transparency company that allows employees to search and compare prices for medical tests and procedures.

And you’ll read about what benefits executives are specifically doing to embrace technology.

As a journalist covering this space, I’m excited by the way technology is changing the employee benefits industry.

But new technologies excite me even more from an employee standpoint — simply as a consumer who wants to better understand my healthcare and benefits and have tools available that will help me compare costs, eat better and get fit. Here’s hoping more employers feel the same way, too.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.