How AI And Machine Learning Can Change Your Entire Approach To Employee Healthcare And Benefits

Improving your employees’ health is not a joke, but what about using Artificial Intelligence (AI) in healthcare? If that still seems like some crazy pipe dream, it isn’t. From spotting tumors to designing clinical trials, AI is already being used in many facets of health and wellness.

One of the areas that has received less attention — yet is one of the most important — is health benefits management. The majority of Americans receive healthcare from insurance plans provided and designed by their employers, making the use of AI in employer-sponsored healthcare one of the biggest opportunities to drive down costs and improve health outcomes. According to an Accenture report, healthcare AI applications can potentially generate more than $150 billion in yearly savings for the US healthcare economy by 2026.

For years employers and consultants have taken a reactive approach to providing healthcare for their people, which was the best any of us could do at the time. Last year’s data was all many organizations had access to, so they uncovered a few key trends, made adjustments, and moved forward accordingly.

But today, HR and benefits leaders can take a truly proactive approach with AI and machine learning. We have the tools to access real-time and predictive data that can help benefits and HR leaders get ahead, uncover trends, and take preventive measures to keep their workforce and business healthy. At 88% of companies, AI is already being used in many functions of HR, including recruitment and retention — saving HR up to 14 hours a week.

What does this look like? Here’s how AI and machine learning can help you change your entire approach to employee healthcare and benefits.
Think Siri or Alexa — But for HR and Benefits Leaders
Natural Language Processing (NLP) has made huge strides in recent years with applications like Siri and Alexa. We have this extremely advanced technology in our personal lives, so why wouldn’t we apply it to healthcare at scale?

By applying AI and machine learning to your health benefits practice, you can get answers to important questions that affect your business — quickly and easily. These questions could include:

How many of our employees visit the ER for non-emergency illnesses?
Who is most at-risk for severe complications due to COVID-19?
Who is most at-risk for opioid abuse?
How many of our employees with chronic illnesses are on track with treatment plans?

These answers could be at your fingertips, not hidden beneath layers of carrier reports and data that take weeks to sift through.
Technology That Thinks Ahead
As helpful as Siri is, it barely scratches the surface of what AI and machine learning can do. These applications can also identify opportunities to drive care efficiency; drug savings, help members avoid unnecessary procedures, and even proactively detect risk for chronic and serious conditions like diabetes, stroke, and other preventable diseases.

Then, AI can equip HR and benefits leaders with the right action steps to develop effective risk mitigation strategies with appropriate treatment and disease management resources. They can design targeted interventions and wellness programs to intervene, change behavior, and improve care before these conditions become chronic, a stage where treatment is often more costly.
The Future of Health and Work
Applying AI and machine learning in healthcare isn’t just the trendy thing to do — it’s the right thing to do. For years, healthcare costs have been out of control, yet America isn’t getting any healthier. Employers have the ability, and responsibility, to do something about it. With faster answers, smart scenario-planning and predictive insights, HR and benefits leaders can take real steps toward not just managing, but actually improving the health of their workforces and balance sheets.

The future of health and work depends on employers’ ability to harness the latest tools in AI, machine learning, and data science. It’s time to put these tools to work in a way that drives better health and business outcomes at scale. By taking advantage of the latest technology advancements and health intelligence, employers can deliver more strategic, personal, and effective healthcare than ever before.

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