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Living Well

Fridays (with Benefits) - 5/3/19 - Will deep learning lead to the rise of Dr. Robot?

Mr. Robot is a popular TV show about a group of hackers who are trying to wipe out the world's debt problem through some digital anarchy. A novel idea, but probably not a realistic one. Maybe we won't see an effective Mr. Robot anytime soon, but what if health care providers started diving a little deeper into tech and data solutions?

Is DR. Robot on the way? Maybe not with an Oscar-winner leading the charge, but it looks like the health care world is ready to graduate from artificial intelligence (AI) into even stronger ways to revolutionize the industry. Let's dive in.

Deep learning offers lessons for healthcare - Bruce Shutan, Employee Benefit Adviser

Building off the tenets of AI and machine learning, deep learning tech processes gargantuan amounts of seemingly unrelated data and spots data patterns. Once identified, the platform then creates better prediction models for more proactive solutions.

What does this techno-babble have to do with health care? For starters, if deep learning platforms spot patterns in patient data, it could lead to earlier intervention of chronic diseases, potentially sparing them the physical and financial burden of a longer-term illness.

In other words, earlier treatments, fewer symptoms, lower costs for all involved.

Other potential health care benefits of deep learning include better medical imaging, more personalized treatment plans for specific patients, lowering the costs of drug discovery, and even improving the processing and paperwork routines.

According to the article, the health care industry is a perfect place to put deep learning tech to use. The author cites that a single hospital stay could potentially generate 100 pages of data. Multiply that by thousands of patients, and… well, you can see the need for a platform to make sense of it all to improve service on all levels of the experience.

The article goes on to discuss how data science isn't just going to help with the medical results and bottom lines, but also to make the entire experience, from diagnosis to final payment, more efficient, eliminating a lot of the friction and communication issues that can plague a lot of providers.

Of course, we can't cover the topic here. But if you're interested in doctors bringing a little science fiction into our health care reality, this is a must-read article that shows why Mr. Robot might be a little closer to real than we think.

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Fridays (with Benefits) is a weekly roundup of the latest headlines about employee benefits -- from FSAs to fitness programs and everything workplace wellness. It appears every Friday, exclusively on the FSAstore.com Learning Center. And for the latest info about your health and financial wellness, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Basics

Fridays (with Benefits) - 4/26/19 - A digital revolution is underway in employee benefits

Employee Benefit News is a publication we reference a lot in this column, because of its ongoing coverage of the benefits industry (and how it might affect FSA and HSA owners). So, when the site's editors highlight the people and companies helping to change the employee benefits landscape, we take notice.

This year's Digital Innovators award recipients shine some light on all the different ways benefits are evolving through connected platforms. From things as simple as online video series and apps aimed at retirement planning, to more complex apps centered on employee accountability, it's clear that the world of benefits is taking a major leap to improve engagement in the workplace.

"Going digital" is hardly a new concept for modern business, but it's still great to see these platforms improve the way we work and live, in and out of the office. Let's take a closer look.

20 digital innovators transforming benefits, HR - Caroline Hroncich, Kathryn Mayer - Employee Benefit News

According to the article, EBN received dozens of nominations from readers, along with some choices from editors and industry experts, to create a comprehensive list of 20 deserving recipients. We obviously can't cover them all here, but let's check out a few of the standouts for 2019.

Rosario Avila and Andrew McNeil, founders of BenefitsTV
Avila and McNeil created BenefitsTV — a series of videos posted to social media —after they couldn't find any benefits content in video form. Since teaming up, the two benefits advisers have posted more than 50 short videos for YouTube and Instagram.

Mike Cardillo, co-founder and president, HandsFree Health
Cardillo's company created the new voice-activated device WellBe, which responds to voice commands like other virtual assistants, but targeted for answering questions based on the owner's individual healthcare and benefits information.

Brian Hamilton, vice president of SmartDollar
SmartDollar is an online and app-based financial program designed to educate employees to proactively take control of their money and get on track for retirement.

These three are really just the tip of the innovation iceberg highlighted in the article, so we strongly recommend taking a few minutes to see the list in full. Even if you're completely happy with your benefits (as an employer or employee) you might just find something to make them even better for everyone involved.

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Fridays (with Benefits) is a weekly roundup of the latest headlines about employee benefits -- from FSAs to fitness programs and everything workplace wellness. It appears every Friday, exclusively on the FSAstore.com Learning Center. And for the latest info about your health and financial wellness, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


Accounts

Fridays (with Benefits) - 4/19/19 - Benefits education could lead to longer-tenured employees

One of the goals of our Learning Centers is to educate readers about their tax-free health care accounts, so they can make the right decisions about which accounts to open, and what opportunities they'll have for the upcoming year. But education about employee benefits needs to start a lot earlier, to make the choices clearer for workers, and to keep them happy long after they sign on the dotted line.

But, as we see in this article from BenefitsPRO, the level of benefits education plays a bigger role than we thought in employee happiness … and it might even affect retention. Let's see why.

Lack of benefits understanding brings low morale, high turnover - Marlene Satter, BenefitsPRO

According to a new Colonial Life study, employees who don't get a thorough picture of their benefits options during open enrollment don't typically understand their choices, even after they make their selections. This isn't that surprising. What caught our attention is that there seems to be a scary correlation between employee understanding and happiness.

Long story short? Data shows that employees who don't fully understand their benefits are more likely to quit within the coming year.

What's even more concerning is that there doesn't seem to be any urgency by employees to change this. Just look at these stats:

  • 33% of workers spend less than a half hour choosing benefits during enrollment.
  • 36% spend less than an hour even researching their options.

The article goes on to explain how this hastiness leads to lower morale, less confidence in their company, and even complete job dissatisfaction. It also highlights how different demographics had some markedly different approaches to selecting benefits.

Now, we can't speculate that the lack of benefits education is directly responsible for turnover. But having a company properly explain options and help employees select an ideal plan certainly seems like it would improve morale.

We're curious to see how the results of the Colonial Life study pan out, and if it will make a difference when open enrollment starts this fall.

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Fridays (with Benefits) is a weekly roundup of the latest headlines about employee benefits -- from FSAs to fitness programs and everything workplace wellness. It appears every Friday, exclusively on the FSAstore.com Learning Center. And for the latest info about your health and financial wellness, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.