Slideshow 50 leaders who are transforming benefits – Part 1 of 2

Published
  • May 16 2016, 3:33am EDT

50 benefit technology innovators, part 1

The Dig|Benefits Technology Innovator Awards recognize 50 visionaries who are driving technology innovation, overcoming organizational and technology barriers, deploying leading-edge technology, and shaping benefit technology regulation and policy. The awards were open to benefit plan sponsors, benefit technology company executives, benefit advisers, brokers and consultants and others on the leading-edge of technology development, adoption and deployment.

To select the winners, the editors asked readers for nominations, consulted with industry experts and called on their own industry knowledge. They selected individuals who are making breakthroughs in digital benefits platforms, health insurance alternatives, private exchanges, retirement and robo-advising, financial wellness tools, digital health and wellness tools, advancesin digital employee engagement platforms, and benefits and workplace analytics.

Winners will be honored at the Dig|Benefits conference May 19-20 in Austin, Tex.

Here is part one of the inaugural list. The 25 winners are listed in alphabetical order.

Kevin M. Andrews

Title: Chief technology officer

Company: Hodges-Mace

Achievements: Over his 20-year career, Kevin has worked to eliminate the disconnect between employers, employees, and benefits. He has introduced industry-leading concepts and developed innovative technology solutions that empower employees to make smarter benefit decisions. He's been involved in the launch of animated Interactive storyboards, a technique used to educate employees visually about how benefit plans work and how they might impact an employee and their family. These storyboards are designed to answer 90% of an employee’s questions in 90 seconds or less. Designed with input from a psychologist on how employees learn and retain information, the storyboards leverage real employee data and present information to each employee based on his/her relevant information. Kevin has also been a strong proponent of predictive benefit modeling, technology that creates personalized benefit recommendations for employees, based on how (s)he and his/her family use healthcare today. He's implemented systems that use actuarial data to predict healthcare utilization at the member level and then create a customized recommendation that expands beyond a medical recommendation and takes into account an employer’s entire benefit package.

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Alexander Assaley

Title: Lead adviser, retirement plans

Organization: AFS 401(k) Retirement Services

Achievements: Since Joining the firm in 2006, Alex has specialized in the design, implementation, and management of retirement plans for mid-sized corporations, non-profit organizations, and trade associations. With the recent launch of the online platform MoneyNav, Alex and his team are working to promote financial wellness through engaging and educational digital content. The website provides a way for employees to get guidance throughout all stages of their financial lives. The impetus behind creating the tool was the intersection of people seeking information in new ways, mostly online and at their convenience, as well as the fact that many employees are struggling to save enough for retirement.

Randy AufDerHeide

Title: Chief product officer

Organization: blooom

Achievements: Blooom provides access to professional portfolio management services for people who don’t have large enough accounts to attract the help of a traditional face-to-face adviser or who don’t have the time and/or desire to manage the account properly on their own. Blooom is an online RIA that manages its clients’ employer-sponsored retirement plan (401(k), 403(b), 457, or TSP) regardless of where they work, where their 401(k) is held, or the size of the account. Randy identifies opportunities and risks for delivering the company’s services as a Web-based business, including opportunities for innovation, and assessment of marketplace obstacles and technical hurdles to the business success. He identifies technology trends and evolving social behavior that may support or impede the success of the business and evaluates and identifies appropriate technology platforms (including Web application frameworks and the deployment stack) for delivering the company’s services.

Rick Bates

Title: CEO and co-founder

Organization: SingleCare

Achievements: With SingleCare, Rick is driving a new wave of innovation in healthcare by empowering consumers to purchase medical services online at affordable, pre-negotiated rates, regardless of insurance coverage. On a daily basis, Rick leads the company's strategic vision and execution for a more transparent healthcare option, providing guidance and expertise based on his 20 years of experience in the insurance industry. With the company's founding in 2014, Rick developed a smart and easy-to-use online retail marketplace where consumers and employees can shop for providers, prescriptions and routine health services based on location, area of specialty or price at pre-negotiated rates.

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Dr. Rajaie Batniji

Title: Co-founder and chief health officer

Organization: Collective Health

Achievements: The Collective Health technology platform surfaces and simplifies data that employers and employees need to know to make informed and intelligent health insurance decisions, during enrollment and throughout the year. Together with Ali Diab, co-founder and CEO, Rajaie launched Collective Health in October 2013 to create a better experience for everyone who touches employer-based health benefits -- the 150 million American employees and the huge number of HR teams who manage them. Combining his deep understanding of the U.S. healthcare system with his health policy and economics background, Rajaie has been a guiding force at Collective Health as it has built its intuitive, integrated technology platform that now serves 30,000 employee members from leading companies like Fortune Best Places to Work’s Activision Blizzard and tech leaders Palantir and Zendesk. The company is expected to process over $200 million in health insurance claims by 2017.

Dan Bond

Title: Principal

Organization: Compliancedashboard

Achievements: Dan launched Compliancedashboard in 2007 to help employers navigate the federal laws that govern employer health plans and the costly fines and penalties associated with failure to comply. Simplifying complex and laborious legal responsibilities, the company's interactive email follow-up system is customized to each employer's health plan. In early 2016, Dan oversaw a redesign of Compliancedashboard's user interface. He is currently collaborating with industry professionals on a new version of the software that is specialized for employers with self-funded health plans.

Kristen Booth

Title: Director of benefits

Organization: Lakeland Regional Health

Achievements: The transition into digital innovations in benefits communications was an abrupt one for the HR department at Lakeland Regional Health: 2014 was the first year that any open enrollment documents were digitally available for employees. Yet in 2015, under the direction of Kristen, Lakeland Regional Health launched ALEX®, a virtual benefits counselor and interactive software platform that communicates benefits to employees and offers individualized, personal recommendations based on their needs. The company saw more than 80% of their benefits-eligible employees use the tool to learn about their benefits, and they also saw a huge increase in the number of employees who enrolled in any benefits at all, or for the first time. In fact, Lakeland saw an increase in almost every line of coverage they offered, thanks in large part to Kristen and her team’s implementation of the communications solution.

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Cameron Brain

Title: CEO

Organization: EveryoneSocial

Achievements: Cameron is the the CEO and Co-Founder of EveryoneSocial.com, an employee advocacy and engagement platform used by Dell, Adobe, HP, and other leading organizations. His previous roles include head of commerce and business development at Reddit, EVP at Mission Motorcycles, founder and CEO of Open Box Technologies, and founder and CEO of BicyclePartsDirect.com.

Seannalyn Brandmeir

Title: Procurement and contracting manager, benefits administration

Organization: State of Tennessee

Achievements: Seannalyn is in charge of both internal and external communications projects for the State of Tennessee. She heads up communications plans for employee assistance, life, dental and vision insurance, and employee health clinic communications, including enrollment materials and information. She is also in charge of writing and reviewing employee communications, handbooks, annual reports, brochures, websites and other materials for those programs, plans annual HR event with all benefits vendors, and serves as a liaison between the State of Tennessee’s communications and the various contractors’ communications teams.

Under Seannalyn’s guidance, the State of Tennessee benefits department implemented ALEX®, an interactive platform that delivers one-on-one benefits education and decision support to help employees choose the right plan, to the State of Tennessee’s employees for 2016 benefits open enrollment. Seannalyn and the rest of the communications team decided to embrace technology in order to progress with their goal to help all state employees get the best benefits they possibly can and to educate employees about high deductible plan options. And after six weeks of hard work implementing ALEX and building a multifaceted communication strategy to promote ALEX to State of Tennessee employees, Seannalyn saw almost 14,000 employees at the state level make a change in their benefits, and 7,800 folks at the local level made a change. The state's tech-savvy benefits communication strategy, coupled with a tried and true reliance on on-the-ground benefits communications from regional and local reps, made their 2016 enrollment period a big success.

Matthew Brown

Title: Chief interaction designer

Organization: Benefitfocus

Achievements: Matt and his team redesigned the Benefitfocus Marketplace application from the ground up, focusing mainly on the user experience (UX) and user interface (UI). He led the team in the design of a new set of mobile first design patterns, built using new branding assets. Everything from the color palette, typography and even iconography was designed from scratch. In terms of user experience, he introduced a new UI framework built using a core set of modern Web languages, leveraging the work of some of the big players in the industry (i.e., Facebook and LinkedIn). The back-end was also rebuilt to better utilize its service-oriented architecture to power the interface. The separation of the UI from the back-end enabled the company to achieve solid results from a UX perspective, which led to the creation of new features, including progress indicators, a benefits tracker and an estimated annual costs feature.

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Paul Burt

Title: CEO

Organization: SaveUp

Achievements: Paul has been instrumental in introducing SaveUp, a financial wellness platform that incorporates sweepstakes, rewards programs and gamification, to the benefits industry. The platform rewards employees who make smart financial decisions by awarding them points that can be used to play games and win money, redeemed for prizes or entered into a monthly sweepstakes drawing that pays out up to $2 million each month. The platform has won numerous industry honors (including the Finovate Best in Show Award) and, under Paul's direction, its members have saved/paid down debt to the tune of $10+ billion.

Saravanan Chettiar

Title: CEO

Organization: Recode Health

Achievements: As CEO of Recode Health, the team behind Strive Benefits, Saravanan and his team conceived and built a product that has brought healthcare consumerization to small businesses. The cutting-edge mobile app helps employees manage their healthcare (medical, dental, vision) decisions and save money. Using the app, workers can search for providers, store their ID cards and emergency contact information, look up prescription drug pricing and clinical content, and search for details about their specific benefits plan design.

Scott Clarke

Title: Vice president, product development

Organization: Businessolver

Achievements: Scott’s acute understanding of financial decision-making provided crucial perspective around what a benefits technology platform must do for employees who are selecting a benefits plan. One of his most recent contributions to Businessolver’s technology platform was the research, design and development of the firm's MyChoice product. The company identified the need for a platform that put rationality into the benefits selection process, which is inherently irrational. To fulfill that need, Scott created MyChoice – a platform that factors in the financial, physical and emotional side of the benefits selection process and creates a personalized strategy that helps drive decision-making. The product incorporates all the available coverage types in an overarching, truly holistic, benefits decision-support tool.

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John Contreras

Title: Founder and CEO

Organization: Matchup.io

Achievements: The driving force behind Matchup.io has been John’s vision to combine technology and social motivation to help people achieve lasting behavioral change. With the expansion of the wearable device market, John identified a glaring problem and crafted an innovative solution. Data from wearable fitness trackers can be a powerful source of motivation for individuals, but healthy behaviors and health in general is inherently social. The ability to provide social motivation and accountability through device apps has been dwindling as more device makers have entered the market. John solved this problem with the creation of a cross-device compatible platform where individuals can join a health-minded community. Today Matchup.io provides social motivation to increase daily activity for hundreds of companies and over a hundred thousand individuals across the globe. John has led the company to success by firmly grounding it in the core value of empathy, which has cultivated a community that is accessible to a broad audience.

Mark Correia

Title: CEO

Organization: Preventure

Achievements: Mark is the embodiment of leadership through innovation in his quest to design and implement Maxwell, the company's employee engagement platform. He worked tirelessly with a team of internal and external experts to create a personal wellness empowerment tool that also aligns with corporations' mission of improved employee health. Together, Mark and his team completed and delivered the platform in less than 10 months. The platform is geared toward driving employee behavior change through a highly personalized experience, not just wellness checklist compliance. Technology provides an unprecedented ability to provide the attributes necessary for a successful wellness program, and the personalized wellness portal helps users form healthy, long-term habits and behavior changes by making the end user his or her own “health hero” who takes ownership of his or her own well-being.

Brian Cosgray

Title: Founder

Organization: DoubleNet Pay

Achievements: Brian has spent his entire career in financial services. Previously, as a multi-unit franchisee of Aaron’s Inc. and a financial adviser with Merrill Lynch, Brian worked with customers and clients across the economic spectrum. From that experience he saw a true need to simplify and automate how people pay bills and save money. Building on that need, Brian founded DoubleNet Pay and created a cutting-edge bill paying and savings solution that takes the stress out of managing day-to-day finances.

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Joe Fernandez

Title: CEO

Organization: TBX Employee Benefits

Achievements: Joe created a benefits enrollment and delivery system that aims to help brokers and employers deal with the increased volume of data tracking needed under the Affordable Care Act, as well as adding in an educational component for employees. The system incorporates ACA reporting tools, electronic data feeds to insurance carriers, and video education for employees. One of the system's highlights is the funding of the software utilization. Joe created a model where the cost of the platform is covered by a commission sharing of certain 'bundled' voluntary benefit products. When employees choose these products, at a minimal cost, the commissions pay for the service provided, drastically reducing the employer and brokers costs.

Robin Gelburd

Title: President

Organization: FAIR Health

Achievements: Robin directed the launch of www.fairhealthconsumer.org, a free website dedicated to sharing information about healthcare prices and healthcare benefits so that employees and other consumers can better manage their healthcare expenses. The core of the website is the FH® Consumer Cost Lookup tool, comprising both FH Medical Cost Lookup and FH Dental Cost Lookup. Powered by the nation’s largest repository of privately billed medical and dental healthcare claims, that tool allows consumers to estimate their out-of-pocket costs for medical and dental care in their geographic area, to aid them in choosing a health plan option during their employer’s enrollment period, planning out-of-network expenses or negotiating with a provider.

Amit Ghorawat

Title: Director, product

Organization: Liazon

Achievements: Amit has been instrumental in developing the technology behind Liazon’s Bright Choices® Exchange, which supports the company’s “portfolio approach” to benefits. By combining cutting-edge technology and design best practices, Amit and his team have built and refined a sophisticated algorithm that drives the recommendation of benefits for the company’s thousands of users. This is done through online decision support, a guided interface that takes into account an individual’s health, wealth and personality. This recommendation engine takes a holistic approach towards the individual’s portfolio and drives them to choose a set of benefits optimal for them.

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Mike Greene

Title: CEO

Organization: ID Watchdog

Achievements: In today’s digital world, hackers are compromising identities by the millions and costing victims billions annually. Under Mike's leadership, the company strives to safeguard those who could become potential victims by offering comprehensive and proactive identity theft protection. He led the development of the company's Instant-OnTM Monitoring for employee benefit customers, technology that instantly activates all monitoring on the benefit effective date, without any further action required by the employee, ensuring employees are getting what they pay for right from day one. Mike has designed and delivered multi-award winning software products, developed and led teams, and helped deliver exceptional double-digit revenue growth to more than $100M in revenue at three previous companies. He has spent the past 10 years in the data security space; first with Webroot Software, PC Tools, and then Symantec.

Vlad Gyster

Title: Founder and CEO

Organization: Airbo

Achievements: Vlad has spent 10 years helping HR and benefit professionals understand and adopt emerging technologies like mobile, gamification, and social media. Prior to starting Airbo, an employee communications platform, Vlad spent five years at Towers Watson. There, he co-founded the social media practice and worked with Fortune 500 companies like 3M and American Express to implement strategies to engage employees in the HR ecosystem.

Ryan Helsing

Title: Chief design engineer and founder

Organization: Accord Systems

Achievements: Ryan designed and built the Accord software platforms for Affordable Care Act reporting and filing, as well as Forms Express, a self-service solution for ACA reporting. He currently leads all technology development at the company. He has previously created a number of benefit-related tools and technology platforms, including BenefitPods, which was part of a USI acquisition in 2011.

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Cedric Hutchings

Title: CEO

Organization: Withings

Achievements: Under Cédric's leadership, Withings has created digital technology to help organizations make their lifestyle and disease management programs more effective, engaging and scalable. His vision is to seamlessly incorporate innovative health sensors into everyday life products, such as bathroom scales, watches, and your average mattress, to help individuals track their health and get personalized coaching and motivation based on their data. Incorporating wearables into wellness initiatives has become very popular in the last few years and yet the drop-off rates for wearable users is significant. With this knowledge as background, Cédric sought to create an activity tracker with a battery life beyond just a few days. He oversaw the recent launch of the company's activity tracker, Activité, which boasts eight months of battery life, elevating the opportunities for long-term employee engagement. Coupled with the Withings app, the system provides employees coaching and motivation to drive a more active lifestyle. More than 100 companies have chosen Withings trackers and wellness platform to create more engaging wellness programs, including renowned organizations such as SAP and MIT.

Bertrand Janin

Title: Chief technology officer

Organization: Truveris

Achievements: Bertrand oversees a team of 35 engineers, product designers and analysts to create and maintain the startup’s six flagship products that service the pharmacy value chain. Bertrand created OneRx – a free prescription benefits and savings solution (Web, iOS, Android) for both insured and uninsured Americans. The product offers employees drug coverage information at the point of care (prior authorizations, step therapy, exclusions, as well as quantity and age limits) regardless of the network or plan; out-of-pocket drug prices based on location, so that employees can compare prices at local pharmacies; instant savings because the app automatically aggregates drug coupons and discounts; drug-specific co-pay information for insured individuals to compare their out of pocket costs with and without insurance; and immediate access to alternate savings vehicles, drug coupons and patient assistance programs. Over 100 plans are promoting the app to over 250,000 members during open enrollment. For payers, the tool helps save on their portion of prescription drug spend as members switch to lower cost pharmacies.

David Kaplan

Title: Senior partner and global leader of Mercer’s Health Innovation LABS

Organization: Mercer

Achievements: David works with large employers across the globe to develop strategies to manage and improve the health of their employees and dependents. He has over 20 years of experience in health care consulting. Recent consulting assignments include work on developing on-site clinic solutions including feasibility, vendor procurement, implementation and monitoring for a number of Fortune 100 companies across multiple industries and countries; development of a global healthcare strategy for a technology company; an development of health management strategies including a customized care solution for a very large retailer. In his role of innovation leader, he partners with three of the largest health venture capital firms and hosts a twice a year Innovation Summits that bring together the most interesting new companies in health with innovative employers.