Health Tech Meets HR Tech

The Kaiser Foundation estimates that, on average, employers pay 82% of health-insurance costs for single coverage (71% for family coverage)–an average of $5,655 per year per employee.   One of the most significant ways companies are dealing with this economic burden is by investing in employee wellbeing.

The workplace-wellness market is valued at $48 billion, according to the Global Wellness Institute. It encompasses a variety of wellbeing offerings: diet and fitness, mindfulness and mental health, and programs for heart disease and diabetes, as well as benefits related to childcare, family planning and financial fitness.

Wellbeing is becoming increasingly strategic for HR. Employees, burdened by healthcare costs and long work days, are demanding more wellbeing support. Consequently, there is enormous investment going into corporate-wellbeing technology. In fact, the health-tech market today is as innovative as any I’ve seen, and it is now colliding with the $140 billion market for HR tools and systems.

Following are several areas of innovation and examples of new market entrants:

Fertility benefits: Research shows that one out of 12 women has problems getting pregnant.  The start-up Carrot helps employees navigate the complexities of fertility options through assessments, a network of providers and a range of solutions. Carrot works with companies to decide how much they want to allocate to fertility benefits, and then helps employees determine how they can best use benefits through a personalized app experience.

Childcare: As all parents know, the first years of parenting are filled with daunting challenges. Cleo offers an amazing app and technology-driven platform that connects expectant and new parents to a range of practitioners specializing in areas such as pregnancy and parenting advice, adoption and surrogacy, and return-to-work coaching. Cleo’s clients claim their employees are more productive and relaxed at work, knowing they can get personalized advice whenever needed at a cost far lower than a doctor’s visit.

Mental health: More than 44 million U.S adults have mental health issues (14% of the population), and researchers believe one in five people has an unmet need for mental-health care. Widespread use of opioids and other pharmaceuticals for anxiety, sleep and depression are exacerbating this issue. Spring Health provides an app that helps employees assess their mental-health needs and determine what type of treatment they need (such as coaching, counseling and medication). Spring Health then connects employees to a network of certified mental-health experts to address precisely the problems they face–all confidentially.

Physical therapy: Studies show that physical therapy can be a much more effective treatment than medication or surgery for many conditions and injuries. Cue Physera works closely with physicians and physical therapists to build a first-of-its-kind digital solution to address musculoskeletal issues. Physera’s technology and science help employees diagnose their conditions, and save them time and dollars by providing personalized exercise recommendations through a digital coach to support recovery.

Wellbeing: Companies such as VirginPulse, LimeAid and Castlight Health have built end-to-end wellbeing platforms that let employees engage in self-assessment, challenges and education.  Reduced worker-compensation claims and improved productivity are among the benefits their clients attain.

I’ve found that the innovative companies in this space have one thing in common: They are being developed with a digital-first approach. The founders and CEOs know that health and wellness is a well-regulated industry, so they leverage scientists, physician networks and regulatory bodies to create validated solutions.

In addition to improving lives, these companies are changing the healthcare system itself by disrupting traditional healthcare siloes and delivering consumer-like solutions to pressing issues.

Best of all, these solutions are going to reduce the cost and improve the quality of healthcare. While the political solutions to healthcare coverage are difficult, these tools are here today, fueled by passionate entrepreneurs with mission-driven hearts.

I’ll be talking more about health tech and the importance of corporate wellbeing initiatives at the HR Technology Conference and Expo in October.  I hope to see you there.




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Josh Bersin
Josh Bersin writes HRE’s HR in the Flow of Work column. Bersin is an analyst, author, educator and thought leader focusing on the global talent market and the challenges and trends impacting business workforces around the world. He can be emailed at