Tech companies have stepped up with solutions. Now it’s clients’ turn

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When you have 60 of the nation’s biggest employers turning to benefits tech to solve some of their most pressing healthcare problems, you can no longer question whether digital solutions are the way of the future.

I recently spoke to Josh Riff and Michael Laquere of the Employer Health Innovation Roundtable, a grassroots employer group made up of Boeing, Facebook, Walmart and more. The group, which represents 8 million employees, matches employers with health-tech startups (among them: Cariloop, a platform for employees to access caregiving resources; Hello Heart, an app-driven platform designed to help employees manage hypertension, heart rate and cardiovascular health; and Happify, a digital platform that helps employees understand the source of their feelings), then encourages the two to work together to pilot a program for employees.

The EHIR was founded on the idea that carriers and other traditional players aren’t being innovative enough when it comes to helping workers manage their health and helping employers drive down costs.

See also: How 60 of the nation’s biggest employers are uniting to fight the benefits status quo

“Previously, healthcare lacked technology-first solutions,” Cindy Pulido, director of U.S. health benefits at Facebook and an EHIR member, recently told me. “In the past few years, we have seen an influx of companies using technology to challenge the status quo in healthcare delivery.”

As a journalist on the benefits beat, I couldn’t agree more. For the past few years I’ve been writing about new employer clients developing technology to help keep workers healthy, more productive and better engaged.

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Now is the fun part: I’m starting to see more employers embracing tech solutions — and reaping success as a result. The common factor is that industry players are sick of the status quo — they’re looking for more ways to step up and better engage employees in healthcare, benefits and the workplace in general. And they’re looking at tech as one way to do it.

The shakeup is being led by a number of tech pioneers, 20 of whom — including Riff and Laquere — we spotlight in our annual Digital Innovator list.

See also: 20 Digital Innovators transforming benefits, HR

Not only are these visionaries driving benefits solutions, but they’re transforming HR as well.

Walmart’s Daniel Shepherd, for example, created a virtual simulation training game for Walmart called Spark City. The app lets workers roleplay as a manager of a Walmart grocery department. Frida Polli’s company Pymetrics uses neuroscience-based games and artificial intelligence to help match candidates to jobs, and also helps employers audit for gender and ethnic bias.

And Michael Zammuto created Completed, a website that allows employees to rate their experience with direct supervisors. It could be an important tool for HR managers to keep an eye on their managers and get insight on the inner workings of their workforce, preventing talent from walking out the door.

All these moves signal that digital solutions in the workplace are no longer nice-to-haves, but must-haves. And it’s becoming increasingly clear that the change is putting employers in the driver’s seat like never before. For digital solutions to truly work and have the potential to change employees’ lives — and reshape the industry in the process — HR professionals must get behind them.

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