The digital healthcare revolution is just beginning

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It is hard to believe that just 10 years ago healthcare revolved around paper. Digitalization has not only resulted in greater convenience for benefit advisers, providers and patients, but generated
data that allows patients to be treated with less expense and greater precision.

This trend is continuing. Here are a few areas where we will soon see exponential growth in healthcare-related technologies.

  • Integrated technology and smart devices enable close monitoring and better preventative measures. They have opened the door for providers to evaluate patients more thoroughly and provide a more accurate and timely prognosis. More data and analysis will encourage greater consumerism by helping patients make informed choices with regards to their care and wellness.

  • Greater health-related intelligence will help advisers tailor wellness programs to particular employee populations. Today, if an employee knows from her FitBit that she only walks 7,500 steps a day, she may be more likely to sign up for the gym and take advantage of the wellness credit offered by her employer. Tomorrow, fitness facilities may partner with employers to offer incentives under a wellness program. Other devices like insulin pumps and pacemakers will also motivate employees to change their behaviors.
  • Given rapid technological advancements, new methods of treatment will be introduced. Maybe they will involve virtual reality, artificial intelligence or something else, but these treatments may not only pave the way for less invasive care, they also have the potential to significantly drive down the costs of that care.
  • Digital payments have had a big impact already, but imagine the convenience of having multiple payment accounts on one card, including a personal account and a tax-advantaged health care savings account. Pharmacies and other suppliers will be able to offer rewards through this virtual wallet, providing coupons and discounts. Employees won’t have to check their account balances before they are treated or worry if an expense is eligible. And they won’t have to provide documentation to substantiate their expenses.

This future is very appealing, but to make it a reality advisers, employers and providers must continue to innovate.

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