April 01, 2019
One in two adults suffer from musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions, ranging from arthritis to low back pain to sports injuries. In addition to undue discomfort, these conditions cost $213 billion in treatment, care and lost wages.1 Most experts agree that physical therapy is the best first-line defense for MSK issues. It can significantly reduce chronic pain, as well as prevent unnecessary medical procedures such as joint replacements and surgeries. Unfortunately, physical therapy services can be inconvenient, time-consuming and costly. Moreover, only approximately 10% of those who would benefit make it to a physical therapist; fewer than 25% who initiate therapy complete the prescribed course of care.2,3
complete prescribed course of physical therapy3
Increasing access to early interventions for MSK concerns has the potential to be a game-changer. With the creative use of technology, new solutions are offering just that. In this issue of Innovative Insights, we discuss how technology gives consumers the ability to proactively address MSK concerns at a time and place that is most convenient for them, even from the comfort of their own home.
High-Touch through High-Tech
No longer do employees have to choose between suffering in pain or juggling multiple visits within the health care system—often scheduled at inconvenient times-- to remedy it. For large portions of the population, early access to solutions such as Hinge Health, Physera and Simple Therapy, can resolve aches and pains without the need for an office visit. All three digitize musculoskeletal care; all three also provide mechanisms for ongoing data collection to evaluate patient outcomes throughout the journey.
Hinge Health is helping ease employees’ low back or joint pain through a combination of exercise therapy, education and support from a personal health coach. The 12-week digital program also leverages motion sensors to monitor patients’ movements and offers real-time feedback.
With Physera, users can schedule a video chat with an experienced physical therapist (PT) to assess the cause of their musculoskeletal discomfort; from there, a personalized therapeutic exercise program is developed. Guided workouts using exercise animations and a personal PT help ensure patient safety and success.
Through a customized video program, SimpleTherapy users can focus on one of 18 body parts, including the neck, upper back, lower back, shoulder, knee and ankle. The program has been designed in 15-minute sessions that are customized to the individual and adapts based upon feedback after each session. Health coaches, physical therapists and physicians are available fort 24/7 service and support.
The need for on-demand health care will only continue to grow. According to recent research, 58%-73% of consumers across all generations would consider a virtual visit if an in-person, same-day visit wasn’t available.1
More importantly, the new solutions are showing results. They are achieving high customer satisfaction marks while also reducing unnecessary ER and urgent care visits and associated health care costs. They are improving upon the access telemedicine offers and giving people more immediate, accurate information. At the touch of a button, these solutions are creating a consumer-centric journey that is experienced in all other aspects of our lives. In what other ways are new solutions helping the on-demand health care consumer?
MSK issues continue to be a leading cost driver for employers and account for significant time away from work. By affording employees access to early intervention strategies that are both accessible and convenient, these digital options are putting control back in the hands of the consumer. And they are demonstrating success. All three programs are showing high employee demand, sustained engagement and improved patient outcomes. Clearly a win for both employees and employers.
About Innovation Insights
Innovation Insights is an e-newsletter published by Business Group on Health to share innovative programs or solutions coming to market to improve employee health and/or the efficiency, delivery or consumer experience within the health care system.
- 1 | Science Daily. Report from American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. 2016. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/03/160301114116.htm. Accessed April 22, 2019.
- 2 | WebPT. 7 Thought Provoking Facts about Physical Therapy You Can’t Ignore. Available at: https://www.webpt.com/blog/post/7-thought-provoking-facts-about-physical-therapy-you-cant- ignore. Accessed May 2019.
- 3 | Engström, L. O., & Öberg, B. (2005). Patient adherence in an individualized rehabilitation programme: A clinical follow-up. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, 33(1), 11–18.