Content Sponsored by Aflac

Innovation has advanced healthcare in ways that we might only have dreamed of a few years ago. From wearable tech that gives us real-time wellness data, to personal genetic testing, millions of Americans are getting on board.

Innovations like these can empower us to be more proactive in our healthcare decisions, and that's a good thing. Whether you're an individual or a small business owner looking to control healthcare costs, here's how the future of healthcare innovation can work for you.

Access to Expert Advice

Cloud computing is making information sharing easier and giving people access to medical care around the globe. "A medical diagnosis in Shanghai today can be seen in Chicago tonight. Hospitals, doctors and physicians can instantly share information. This will change medicine forever," says Keith Farley, director of innovation and customer experience at Aflac.

Small Business Benefits: Expert diagnoses--available wherever your employees work--can help your team get well faster, and in some cases, even avoid more serious complications. 

The Sci-Fi Factor

3D printing is a cutting-edge innovation in health care today.  Aflac's Farley points out that 3D printing can be used to create prosthetics, casts for broken limbs, and some scientists are now experimenting with 3D-printing organs.

Small Business Benefits: Let's say an employee's child needs a prosthetic hand--printing it at home could drastically lower the cost.

The Internet of Things

IoT has ushered in access to real-time sensor data. Wearable tech makes it possible to monitor health factors such as our blood pressure and the amount of exercise we get. This helps consumers manage health decisions proactively.

Small Business Benefits: Wearables can motivate employees to make positive lifestyle choices--a friendly office competition can help your team reach their daily step goals--leading to more productive and healthier people.

ADVANCES FROM SURPRISING PLACES

Some of the biggest advances may come from innovations unrelated to healthcare. For example, smarter cars can help prevent accidents and the resulting broken bones and injuries. "A significant amount of Aflac's accident and hospital claims come from car accidents," says Farley. "Innovations in cars, traffic safety and even hands-free driving laws can go a long way in preventing accidents and injuries from happening."

Small Business Benefits: Accident-free employees are a win-win for everyone!

Innovating to make your small business better, today From a SmartClaim app to integrated enrollment technology, Aflac offers small business clients tools to make work easier, today.

SPECIAL FEATURE

What can a special duck do for a kid with cancer? 

This was the question facing Aaron Horowitz and Hannah Chung, cofounders of the design company Sproutel, a startup launched in 2012, when they started collaborating with Aflac to create My Special Aflac DuckTM.

The company wanted to give kids facing cancer treatment a comforting companion--and Aflac's iconic quacking symbol was a natural fit.

The designers immersed themselves in the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. They looked on as patients as young as 3 years old coped with chemotherapy and the sheer exhaustion of living in a hospital environment. "Emotionally, it's the hardest design work I've ever done," says Chung, Sproutel's chief creative officer.

From early on, the designers' goal was to help provide comfort and joy to kids facing cancer--and they did it by learning from children and dreaming up innovative technology solutions.

Today, My Special Aflac DuckTM as the cuddly companion is aptly named, has four patents pending. There's a removable, washable skin, devised after discussions with the hospital's infection control staff. Beneath that skin hides a fully animatronic robot, which engages with a Bluetooth-enabled app. All that tech made one pretty special duck.

My Special Aflac DuckTM dances, nuzzles and even has a heartbeat. Kids can feed and bathe the duck, go on adventures through an interactive app designed for mobile devices and tablets, and engage in medical play such as administering "medicine" through a chemotherapy port, not unlike their own. Emotion cards help the duck (and the child) express how they feel--from sad to sick to silly. Every action is designed to help bring comfort and joy to kids in treatment. 

This fall, Aflac will begin delivering 10,000 of these special ducks to children newly diagnosed with cancer at no cost to their families.

"The thought of 10,000 of these ducks on their way to kids is incredibly exciting," Horowitz says.

This article is for informational purposes only. Aflac herein means American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus and American Family Life Assurance Company of New York. WWHQ | 1932 Wynnton Road | Columbus, GA 31999.

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EXP 9/19

Published on: Oct 24, 2018