Health IT Trends For 2020: Some Thoughts From Leaders

Ekg, Heart, 2020, Calendar, Peace

David Reitzel, health IT leader, Grant Thornton

Healthcare providers continue to find themselves with more initiatives and opportunities for innovation than actual capital to deploy to IT projects. Health IT projects have become more integrated with clinical and business areas, which is driving more complexity and alignment than ever before. 2020 will bring a continue focused on the following trends and one growing concern:

Defining and rightsizing AI for your organization. Additionally, organizations will begin and expand the ethical debate as to how broadly to use AI within their organizations. RPA/robotics will continue to expand, followed by deeper machine learning opportunities.

Big data and advanced analytics will continue to be a strong focus as clinical and business users seek the right data at the right time to help make the best decisions possible.

Back office and shared service technology means many organizations have not modernized their ERP platforms in 15 or 20 years. Organizations have gone through numerous transitions, mergers, consolidations, etc., with no core technology changes. Healthcare organizations now have the ability to adopt and deploy next-generation and cloud-based ERP solutions. After spending five to eight years deploying EMR/RCM solutions, organizations now need to focus on ERP modernizations and enterprise data standardization.

Data interoperability will continue to be at the heart of clinical care and enhancing healthcare operations. No one vendor can offer all the necessary functionality needed for healthcare providers; as such, organizations need to spend the necessary time and investment in not only deploying leading clinical, revenue cycle, and ERP solutions, but also an enterprise data interoperability platform. Point-to-point interfaces must be phased out in order to manage the complex enterprise multi-cloud ecosystems that all healthcare providers find themselves living in today with an enterprise data interoperability platform. These platforms offer APIs to help reduce development / connection time, but they don’t always lessen the complexity of business.

With the continued trend toward cloud and hybrid cloud environments, cybersecurity needs to be front and center in all conversations. Organizations need to continue to invest in the development of the correct skills and partnerships to effectively manage cybersecurity in 2020 and beyond.

Health IT resourcing will continue to be in a short supply. The IT resources of 2020 and beyond are not your traditional database administrators or network engineers – they need to have project management skills, business / clinical skills, the ability to manage third parties and actual knowledge of the applications and tools the business uses. Health IT resources need to transform into health IT partners, helping the operations transform by supporting technology enablement.

Jordan Pisarcik, vice president of account management and business development, DocASAP

Providers and health systems will look to more unified, omnichannel solutions to close gaps in care. Health systems will invest in tools and technologies used to streamline the patient journey, including elastic provider search, navigating patients to the right care setting and engaging with patients between visits.

Gone are the days of the adversarial position between payers and providers, replaced now by integrated “payviders.” Through collaboration, “payviders” are expected to reduce financial risk, increase profitability and provide higher quality medical care to patients. Payers also represent a digital channel for providers to improve access to care that can help them meet these objectives.

Health systems will continue to see an increased demand for non-traditional visit types, such as telehealth/virtual appointments, walk-ins, home visits and phone appointments.

In 2019, voice search dominated the news as a major trend; however, consumers won’t see mass adoption of this new technology quite as quickly as anticipated. Still, healthcare systems are working to utilize this new medium as a way to close gaps in care.

Sean Price, EMEA industry solutions director (public sector and healthcare), Qlik

There has been a shift in focus from a traditional use of data and analytics where it has been used for compliance and performance, to a use where operational users are driving decision making and better outcomes at the point of service. The Analytically Powered Command Centre is a great example of this. Healthcare organizations will look to maximize the value of their data by bringing patient flow information into a near real-time environment command center to efficiently manage the end to end process of patient safety, experience and cost. This will enable strategic and tactical management of demand, resource and capability that can lead to process improvement, improved outcomes and notable efficiency savings.

However, moving data to the point of operational front-lines does challenge traditional support and continuity for these systems. Traditionally they would not require 24/7 support – this shift moves big data systems into a new support and maintenance style model.

As more data and insight is being provided to staff, there is the topic of data literacy. A key trend this year will show when you skill up staff in analytics it provides better outcomes and realizes significant productivity gains.  Sometimes data literacy is channeled towards just using a system, rather than understanding statistical significance in data. Arguing with data means you present a case with data, and this requires an understanding of significance and goes way beyond system training.

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Quality Is Critical In Today’s Data Deluge: Put Processes and Tools In Place For Robust Data Quality

By Rahul Mehta, senior vice president and head of data management proficiency, CitiusTech.

Rahul Mehta
Rahul Mehta

The sheer volume and variety of data, such as claims, EMRs, lab systems, and IoT now available to healthcare organizations is mind-boggling. The potential to pull data from these myriad sources to work for real-time care intervention, clinical quality improvement, and value-based payment models is unfolding fast.

Yet, as organizations seek to aggregate, normalize and draw insights from large and diverse data sets, the importance of data quality becomes apparent. Consider an activity as fundamental as identifying the correct patient. According to Black Book Research, roughly 33 percent of denied claims can be attributed to inaccurate patient identification, costing the average hospital $1.5 million in 2017.

For example, the average cost of repeated medical care due to inaccurate patient identification with a duplicate record is roughly $1,950 per inpatient stay and more than $800 per emergency department visit.

As data quality become more important, healthcare organizations need to understand the key characteristics that affect quality: accuracy, completeness, consistency, uniqueness and timeliness. However, data reliability and integrity also depend on other key factors, including data governance, de-duplication, metadata management, auditability and data quality rules.

With a strategic approach, healthcare organizations can employ a unified data strategy with strong governance for data quality across all data types, sources and use cases, giving them the ability to scale and extend to new platforms, systems and healthcare standards. The result is an approach that uses a combination of industry best-practices and technology tools to overcome common challenges and assure data quality for the long term.

Understanding Data Quality Challenges

Historically, providers and payers alike treated data quality as a peripheral issue, but that is no longer viable in today’s complex data ecosystems. First, there are a diversity and multiplicity of data sources and formats: EHRs, clinical systems, claims, consumer applications, and medical devices. Add to that, challenges associated with legacy applications, automation needs, interoperability, data standards and scalability.

Lastly, there are increasing numbers of use cases for clinical quality, utilization, risk management, regulatory submission, population health, and claims management that need to be supported.

Considering the current data environment, the downstream effects of data quality issues can be significant and costly. For example, in the case of patient matching as referenced above, something as common as two hospitals merging into the same health system, but following different data-entry protocols, can lead to duplicate and mis-matched patient records. It can also lead to critical patient data elements, such as date of birth, being documented differently by different facilities and then made available across multiple systems, in varying formats.

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How New Technology Is Helping Hospitals To Reduce and Manage Waste

Garbage, Dustbin, Waste, Garbage CanWhen it comes to waste management in hospitals, it’s easy to imagine old needles, bags of toxic organic waste, and a broad range of other disturbing materials. However, many hospitals also have other issues when it comes to effective waste management.

Just as with any other large building, complex, or organization, the amount of standard MSW and non-medical waste that is generated is staggering, and without proper waste management systems, there is always the potential for it to end up in landfill.

Today, as the world wakes up to its mounting waste problem, some hospitals are at the forefront of a technological revolution that’s streamlining recycling systems and ensuring reduction across a range of waste streams. Here, we look at how new technology is helping hospitals to reduce waste and what that means for the third decade of the 21st century.

Multiple Locations, One Waste Management Plan

Among the many issues surrounding waste management in hospitals, the “siloed” nature of the buildings themselves present a significant challenge. Hospital campuses can be vast, containing multiple buildings, sometimes spread across entire cities. Additionally, each building may produce a range of waste, and each has varying requirements when it comes to collection and disposal.

Managing these sprawling campuses is complex, in both economic and logistical terms, but consolidating waste management strategies through centralized platforms can help overcome significant admin hurdles.

One point of contact can ensure the efficient collection of a range of waste materials from different locations at different times. This kind of approach has been fueled by the advances in app-based connectivity, meaning that operations managers working from different areas of the city can simply log their requirements and arrange collection and disposal directly from a smartphone or tablet device.

Smart Waste Management

Tracking, measuring, and assessing the variety of products used and the waste created by their use is key to reducing the amount of material that requires management. Advanced recovery solutions and RFID/GPS tracking are seen as key technologies in this sector, providing more accurate data on stock usage, discarded materials, and where waste is disposed in relation to a broad range of hospital consumables.

Tracking waste provides transparency and ultimately allows hospitals to ensure waste is delivered to the correct facilities—boosting recycling levels and improving sustainability goals. However, it also allows hospitals to better manage stock levels and daily needs, reducing waste through better management of consumables.

Today’s technologies are cutting waste off at the source by gathering data on how hospitals use products and materials and how they are dealt with after use. A simple scan of a RFID code is usually all that is required to track stock levels and usage, while GPS tracking of waste allows hospitals to provide full transparency on how waste is deal with.

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What’s Next For Nursing? How A Changing Paradigm Is Impacting The Profession

Nurses play an all important role in healthcare’s shift from sick care to wellness-based models as the front-line professionals closest to patients. Always an intricate balance of art and science, nursing practice most continue to evolve to place patients where they should have been all along—in the center of care.

An independent survey commissioned by Wolters Kluwer of nearly 2,000 consumers, nurses, doctors, and healthcare executives in the U.S. provides insights into the top trends that will shape priorities over the next few years – for care teams, hospital leaders, health systems and consumers.

The below infographic details key findings related to challenges and opportunities impacting the nursing profession including perspectives on:

More than ever, nurses need to demonstrate knowledge, confidence, competence, professionalism, empathy and kindness. And they need to be equipped with the right evidence-based tools and education resources to thrive in a changing healthcare landscape.

More on that can be found here:  http://healthclarity.wolterskluwer.com/mending-healthcare.html.

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5 Most Innovative Healthcare Apps of 2020

By Paresh Sagar, CEO, Excellent Webworld.

The technology that has made you stagnant and lazy is the same technology that will help you get back in shape. Today we’ll be learning about the five most innovative health apps that you must use in 2020.

If you have some amazing healthcare app ideas, leave that in the comments.

There exists an old proverb, “Health is the true wealth of a man.” We’ve heard it countless times from our teachers, parents, and our doctor, so much that now we have forgotten the meaning of it. But to remind us of the importance of health comes the very same source that people blame these days for ruining it; smartphones.

Just as E=MC2 was not created by Einstein to build an atomic bomb, it was for the growth of humans and not for their destruction. Similarly, smartphones were built for the ease and growth of humanity, but several people have a notion that smartphones are the issue.

The real reason is that they are only looking for such people that have engrossed themselves in the mobile world and lost track of their health. But, you can’t blame a piece of technology for the decisions that you make about your health.

So to prove all those ignorant people wrong, we are here with the list of five most innovative health apps of 2020.

ClotMD

The name of the app itself gives an idea of what the app is related to. This healthcare app idea is concentrated on a niche audience. The ClotMD app connects patients needing anticoagulation medication with their healthcare providers and allows them to communicate in real-time via the medical app.

Besides the means of being the contact source between the patients and the medication providers, there are several other features that the healthcare app offers, such as:

Doximity

By using this Doximity healthcare application, users get access to the largest medical professional network, which consists of more than 70% of physicians as members. This healthcare mobile app was developed by the same team that built Epocrates, another marvelous medical app for mobiles.

With Doximity, you can search for doctors with a wide range of filters like location, hospital affiliation, experience, clinical interests, publication, specialty, or language.

Some of the key features of the Doximity app are:

ACT.md

ACT.md is an exceptional healthcare application that offers several tools to allow healthcare service providers to view the complete information of a patient’s requirements and manage them accordingly.

With Act.md, medical professionals can serve each patient with different parameters according to their individual needs and work simultaneously with other medical experts across the healthcare sector.

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About Amazon’s New “Transcribe Medical” Service

By Kayla Matthews, freelance journalist, Productivity Bytes.

Amazon has been slowly making forays into fields outside of retail, a sector they currently dominate. One of their latest changes is moving into the healthcare and life sciences fields by offering a HIPAA-compliant transcription program.

What does this service provide, how will it change the medical field and when can professionals expect to see this program in their workplace?

Amazon Transcribe Medical

Amazon is putting their machine learning systems and processing power to good use with its Transcribe Medical service, a technology that’s supposed to improve speech-to-text transcriptions for clinical documentation and patient records.

Traditionally, transcription is carried out by the practitioner or assistant. Either way, clinicians spend extra hours each day converting verbal documentation into digital items for storage in the patient’s electronic health records (EHRs).

Transcribe Medical uses machine learning to transcribe a professional’s verbal dictation into digital records. By using its own previous experience to convert data, this software can work more quickly and accurately than human scribes.

Electronic health records have come a long way since first introduced in 1972. Today, more than 85% of doctors’ offices have fully adopted EHRs. Yet many employees say these advances increase their working hours. Amazon Transcribe Medical could be the tool that allows universal adoption of EHRs without increasing physician burnout.

Amazon in Healthcare

Transcribe Medical isn’t Amazon’s first venture in the healthcare industry. Early in 2018, the company started looking for someone to fill a new role — a HIPAA compliance lead. In the last year, the retail giant launched a brand of over-the-counter medications, offered equipment directly to offices and hospitals and even took steps to acquire multiple pharmaceutical companies, such as PillPack in the U.S. and MedPlus in India.

Amazon planned to become a major pharmaceutical supplier for hospitals but backed off in April of 2018 in favor of working with less-sensitive medical supplies.

Regardless of plans shelved or canceled, Amazon has made it clear that it intends to become a significant player in the healthcare industry, even if it means they’re only selling medical supplies and — as Transcribe Medical shows — assisting physicians with their transcription needs.

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Addressing Five Healthcare C-Suite Concerns In The New Year

By Sheri Stoltenberg, CEO and founder, Stoltenberg Consulting, Inc.

With the new year, healthcare c-suite members are taking a critical look at upcoming market movement to maintain a holistic view of their organizations’ needs. Discussing industry trends at the recent College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) CIO Forum, Anna Pannier, senior director of Ascension Technologies at Ascension Saint Thomas, noted the significant change taking place in the value-based care and wellness marketplace as a top concern for healthcare organizations.

As healthcare leaders, like Pannier, look to stabilize their IT strategies and drive meaningful patient outcomes and operational efficiency, they should assess these five c-suite hot-button topics in the next year.

The shift in data analytics

As a more mainstream solution in the healthcare industry, data analytics is not considered the big “game changer” any longer, but it is still a significant investment focus for providers over the next year. Many healthcare facilities assume that once an analytics platform is implemented, they are ahead of the game. Unfortunately though, those same organizations fail to customize dashboards, continuously assess data, or really break down data insights for meaningful change and care decisions. Driving quality outcomes through data analytics to prepare for the future of population health risk management will be a large focus in proactive facilities.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Artificial intelligence and machine learning in healthcare has now surpassed data analytics on the new investment frontier. The industry has already seen AI application in pathology and radiology in the past year. Eighty percent of healthcare professionals believe that AI is helping to reduce physician burnout, according to a MIT Technology Review survey. Respondent hospitals said AI has increased patient consult time, improved team collaboration and boosted productivity through workflow enhancements.

Similar to data analytics, the CIO will need to work with leadership groups in both the clinical and business sides to determine AI use cases across their evolving organizations. Thought typically applied to clinical care, applying automation and AI on the operations side will drive workload transformation across key business functions.

Greater emphasis on patient engagement

With most organizations having a fully implemented EHR, healthcare organizations are looking to make the most of their long-term investment. Added pressure from value-based care documentation and reimbursement initiatives, as well as increased consumer expectations, drive emphasis on patient engagement. Yet, meaningfully connecting and interacting with healthcare consumers in their patient care plans still lacks.

In fact, pointing to limited or complicated instructions for the everyday patient, a study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine found that hospitals are not properly preparing patients to take advantage of patient portals. More healthcare organizations are now seeking around-the-clock direct patient portal support, as an extension of their IT service desk’s capabilities. This coupled with remote virtual monitoring will drive improved patient outcomes in the next year.

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Why Hybrid Cloud Is Becoming Increasingly Popular In Healthcare

Cloud, Internet, Castle, SecurityBy Steve Forcum, cloud solutions engineering leader, Avaya.

A recent report on hybrid cloud in the healthcare industry predicts that hybrid cloud is set to jump from 19% penetration to 37% by 2021. In an industry historically slow to adapt in the world of IT, why is hybrid cloud becoming healthcare’s primary choice?

To be fair, there was hesitancy in most major markets when it came to cloud services, many questioning the security of it all and even how it functions on a basic level. Cloud-based data centers that can either be run by third parties (public) or built and maintained internally (private).

And now that the mystery of the cloud has been de-stigmatized in the workplace, more and more organizations are turning to the cloud as its primary servers, but don’t want to give up control completely. This is where hybrid cloud comes into play.

A hybrid cloud serves as the best of both worlds. With a hybrid model, there is a channel that links an established, private computing system with a public cloud, providing access to unlimited processing power.

Both the private cloud and public cloud work in tandem to run applications, depending on decreased and increased workloads. Here’s why this is important for healthcare professionals:

The Data Storing Problem

The healthcare industry more than most, has immense amounts of data stored on its legacy servers filled with Electronic Health Records (EHRs). Although a private cloud helps keep this information safe with a firewall, the flooding of medical records may cause other applications to slow or even crash, forcing providers to buy and install more servers just to keep the system running.

This costs money and time — both crucial and limited in a healthcare environment. The hybrid cloud serves to remedy this problem as it allows applications to run from both the largely scalable public and secure private cloud, depending on demand.

IT Maintenance

The hybrid cloud model is set to save the cumbersome task of troubleshooting. Often, hospitals and clinics have to undergo a long approval process that is HIPAA compliant before they are granted the permission and resources to update and install its outdated or outgrown software. Because the public part of the hybrid cloud is maintained by a third-party, it is constantly being updated, relieving the healthcare employees of software upkeep and maintenance.

No Compromise on Security

When it comes to a hybrid cloud, there is no need to compromise on customization. Healthcare IT professionals have full control over what assets are kept on the private data center and what gets moved to the public cloud. Privacy is not jeopardized when sensitive information can still remain behind the internal firewall. For example, while less sensitive data such as appointment requests can run on the public cloud, EHRs can stay protected by the private system’s firewall.

As we look towards 2020, it’s the perfect time to migrate your health IT infrastructure to the hybrid cloud.

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Surviving The 2020 Healthcare Disruption Wave

By Thanh Tran, CEO, Zoeticx.

Thanh Tran

Of the nation’s $3.5 trillion in annual healthcare spending, 90 percent is for people with chronic and mental health conditions. Can healthcare institutes afford not to engage in the 2020 wave of preventative care healthcare disruption? While healers are not prognosticators, savvy healthcare CEOs have their eye on 2020.

For those riding the disruption wave, the answer is simple. CMS alone is providing more than $80 billion in reimbursements for preventive care initiatives. This calculation alone does not count on complex chronic care conditions and other follow-ups from preventive care engagements.

Also, CMS aims at containing the growth of acute care reimbursement. It has almost the same “carrot and stick” model used for the evolution from paper to electronic. Stay on the paper train and get penalized or get on the preventative care train and receive financial incentives.

Earthquake or Hurricane?

Both natural disasters are simply disasters. We do not use this analogy from a disaster standpoint, but from our ability to monitor the progress towards controlling the impact. Earthquakes cannot be foreseen. A hurricane cannot be monitored to the exact point of where it will hit, but at least it can be monitored to approximately when it will hit and its potential impact.

The paper evolution is like an earthquake to healthcare with its aftershocks still being felt today without the ability to plan much upfront. The preventive care evolution is more like an imminent hurricane. We know it is coming, we know when it lands, but we don’t know where it is going. We need to deal with it and manage where it will take us. Those unprepared will suffer the most negative impacts. Would your healthcare facility take this risk?

Most healthcare institutes have deployed an EHR system, almost completing the evolution from paper to electronic medical records. This was the first wave of healthcare disruption. However, we are now realizing that this was much more of a disruptive process in healthcare than anyone realized, as its impact has gone way beyond how patient medical data is recorded.

Power vs. Paper

It began with requirements for care providers to use an electronic system in place of the traditional paper approach, opening for a potential patient medical information exchange, improving care quality and efficiency.  CMS rolled out preventive care reimbursements starting with the Annual Wellness Visit (AWV) in 2015.

CMS then continued to invest in preventive care through additional reimbursements, such as chronic care management, remote patient monitoring, behavioral health integration and transitional care management.

Every year, CMS has either expanding current reimbursements or deployed new preventive care services. This strategy is based on the patient centered medical home with the objective to curb healthcare cost with preventive care measures, a 6:1 ROI versus acute care.

Reimbursements as incentives led to the next wave of healthcare disruption in which care providers’ workflows were impacted on how to record patient medical records. These preventive care initiatives created fundamental changes impacting almost every operational aspect of a care provider’s workflow.

Preventive Care

Today, it is all about preventive care: simply put, the patient is not yet a patient until he or she encounters pain. The patient is not yet sick. The operational model is not reactive. The demand is to anticipate and monitor conditions so care providers can act before the patient encounters a serious medical problem. This causes changes in the operational workflows for healthcare institutes and their workflow.

In the patient engagement model, there is the acute care model in which it is the patient who makes an appointment or visit. For preventive care, it is care providers and healthcare institutes conducting the outreach. However, without the patient outreach model, healthcare institutes cannot realize the full financial incentives offered by CMS.

In non-face-to-face engagements, patients contact their primary care providers for consultation, but that model is different from the preventive care one. In the acute care environment, care providers cannot bill for the engagements, but can bill for visits and appointments. In the preventive care environment, care providers can bill for services, but it is up to care providers (and their staff) to reach out, monitor patient conditions and meet the time required for billing.

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How The Use of Insure Tech Can Help Businesses Preserve Their Employees’ Health

man and woman sitting on tableSince 2011, interest and investment in insurtech has exploded exponentially. In 2011, $140 million was invested. By 2015, it was $2.5 billion, according to McKinsey’s article, Insurtech: The Threat That Inspires.

By the end of the first quarter in 2019, investment records had already broken new records, and went on to surpass $3 billion, coming second only to the fintech revolution.

While there are still very valid concerns about sharing health data online, the use of such technology can present some useful employee wellness solutions faced by businesses. Considering health-related issues cost US companies more than $260 billion each year, it makes sense that businesses would be eager to support technological innovations that can play a large role in helping to protect and maintain their workforce’s health — and their bottom line.

Policies Personalized To Employee, Company And Industry-Specific Risks

It is no secret that consumers and businesses now want customization. A new report from SmartHQ showed that 72 percent of consumers will only engage in personalized marketing messages, while 88 percent of insurance consumers are demanding more personalization.

For both businesses and consumers, insurtech delivers that, thanks to the employment of artificial intelligence and machine learning that comes with it. Traditional insurance policies are formed using overall industry averages, which are sometimes inaccurate in terms of business size, employee behavior or the health and safety stance of the business.

This means entities including small businesses often find themselves presented with inaccurate constructed and priced insurance policies. The use and continuous monitoring of employee data mean companies can shed unnecessary policy costs and access coverage unique to their organizational needs.

Accenture’s Global Financial Services Consumer study in 2019 showed that 77 percent of customers are willing to provide their usage and behavioral data in exchange for lower premiums and better insurance policy recommendations.

A Streamlined And Simplified Insurance Process

A simpler customer experience means less time and resources are spent on acquiring and renewing insurance policies by businesses. With the use of real data, insurers and platforms are now able to accurately predict employee and business preferences, significantly cutting down on the time taken to include market risks.

As HR departments spend less time and money collecting, collating and analyzing employee data for the insurance process, they can focus on more internal measures of boosting employee health, such as implementing employee fitness initiatives or offering company-wide mental health resources. Underwriting, claims processing and even policy research is significantly changed for the better, leaving more time and space to focus on employees and not legalities.

Continuous Monitoring Means Regularly Updated Tailored Coverage 

Another argument supporting the role of insurtech in preserving employee health is that it provides more data that is continuously updated. With health and behavioral information that is regularly refreshed, the decision-making process is also improved, both within the business and on the insurer’s end.

Policies can be updated to reflect changing risks, and more importantly, up to date policy recommendations are fed to management on an ongoing basis, helping them to play a proactive role in maintaining employee health instead of a reactive one. Policies can be auditable, according to Cerity.com which means the final premium paid by businesses is adjusted for any changes over the insurance period, allowing more accurate pricing.

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