Insider News: Health care tech and more

Learn about the employer-sponsored health plan trends you can expect to see this open enrollment period, efforts toward establishing digital therapeutics standards and promoting consumer education, and a new health wearable service from Amazon.

Brigham and Women's tops consumer hospital ranking poll by NRC Health from Healthcare Dive

For the second year running, Brigham and Women's Hospital was the highest-ranked hospital in a consumer survey by NRC Health.

The rankings were determined by several loyalty measurements, including access, brand score, engagement, need, motivation, experience, and Net Promoter score. 

What to expect from your employer’s health plan in 2021 from U.S. News & World Report

Going into fall open enrollment, many employers are beginning to make decisions and finalize their health plans for 2021. The Business Group on Health reports that large employers expect a 5.3% increase in average health care costs per employee, which is similar to increases over the past several years.

To manage costs without making disruptive changes for employees, employers are looking at different ways to keep costs stable. Employees can expect the following changes from their employers' health insurance during this open enrollment period:

  • Moderate premium increases; more for families and high-income workers.
  • High deductibles but more help.
  • More virtual care.
  • Expanded focus on mental health services.
  • More tools to help employees navigate health care options.
  • Growth of centers of excellence and on-site clinics.

24 consumer tech and digital health companies join new push for industry-wide digital therapeutics standards from Mobi Health News

A group of 24 technology and digital health companies, including Google Health, Doctor on Demand, HP, Livongo and ResMed, is aiming to develop industry-wide standards for digital therapeutics use. Alongside outlining common use for digital therapeutics within the tech industry, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) said the group's work could extend into consumer education efforts. The group will also focus on distinguishing between general digital health technology and technology used for intervention, the CTA noted.

Amazon debuts Halo smart health subscription service and Halo Band wearable activity tracker from TechCrunch

Amazon recently introduced a new health program called Halo, which includes a wellness monitoring service and a wearable activity tracker.

The service aims to use advanced computer vision and machine learning to provide a comprehensive view of a user's overall health, from body fat percentage to activity, sleep states, and heart rate. Unique from other app and device-based health tracking tools, the Halo Band will also be able to monitor "energy and positivity" using built-in microphones.

This level of extensive data collection raises concerns about consumer privacy. While Amazon has explained the privacy measures in place, the company still stands to benefit from anonymized insights gathered by the service.

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