Fixing the Gaps in Musculoskeletal (MSK) Coverage

August 24, 2022

Musculoskeletal (MSK) diseases are a pain in the neck (and knees, backs, hips and more) and they’re affecting individuals and their employers in a big way. MSK diseases are injuries or disorders of the muscles, bones and joints, and they can limit mobility and dexterity. They’re the #1 issue in healthcare today, affecting 50% of people in the United States 18 years of age and over and nearly three out of four people over the age of 65.

These conditions can be acute and debilitating for the millions of Americans suffering with injuries or pain in their backs, hips, knees, necks, shoulders, ankles, elbows, wrists and more —  often leading to chronic pain. Unfortunately, accessible and cost-effective treatments for MSK injuries and disorders are currently few and far between.

A painfully expensive and inconvenient problem

On top of the physical pain these MSK conditions can cause, the economic impact is painfully staggering as well. Direct costs of treatment for MSK disorders have doubled in the past decade to $20 billion. When that annual treatment and care cost is combined with the indirect costs of lost wages, absenteeism and poor productivity at work, MSK disorders add up to a cost of an estimated $213 billion each year.

Employers are taking on the burden of increased disability and workers’ compensation costs, and employees can suffer from decreased productivity, physical activity and quality of life. The health benefits industry is in urgent need of effective physical care solutions to achieve better outcomes for populations and drive down these soaring medical costs.

Physical therapy is often a prescribed treatment for MSK conditions – but for individuals who can’t take time off work or don’t live close to a hospital or clinic, accessing and affording quality care can be difficult. In-person physical therapy can also have low adherence rates since many individuals struggle to find time in their busy schedules for physical therapy appointments or have a hard time remembering to do additional exercises from home. Consumers need a solution that is as convenient for them as it is effective.

A clinical-grade digital MSK solution

Through Gravie’s new partnership with Sword, starting Jan. 1, 2023, all Gravie plan members 13 years of age and older with new and renewing plans will get access to industry leading technology and MSK care at no additional cost. Combining personalized care from licensed physical therapists with innovative, sensor-based technology, members can receive treatment wherever and whenever it’s convenient for them through this digital service. Sword’s clinically validated program works for all major MSK issues, at any point in the journey: prevention, acute conditions, chronic pain and post-surgical recovery.

The sensors provide real-time feedback that keeps members motivated to perform and complete their programs. Because members can track their progress, they stay engaged with their plan and are incentivized to reach for greater improvement. Licensed doctors of physical therapy are standing by to analyze biofeedback and chat with members weekly via email, text and video calls. And that higher engagement leads to better treatment outcomes.

On average, members using Sword experience a 62% reduction in pain and a 49% drop in medication use. They also can delay surgery by 60% and see their productivity increase by 42%. Their employers also benefit from these improvements, with employers seeing a 34% reduction on MSK spend year over year.

This digital service provides serious relief to so many struggling with MSK issues. Physical therapy options like this provide flexibility and added convenience since individuals can do their exercises on their own time and from the comfort of their own home.

While Sword offers digital help for MSK diseases, Comfort™ members can also always access specialist visits, including in-person physical therapy, at no cost to them. It’s just another example of how we’re supporting members by ensuring they have access to many options and the type of care that will work best for them and their lifestyle.

Through our partnerships with industry-leading digital health vendors, all Gravie health plan members receive access to value-added services that aim to further improve health outcomes and enhance their experience at no additional cost. This new MSK care option is one more way we’re empowering members to manage costs and do what’s best for their health.

Interested in partnering with Gravie? Reach out and learn more about we blend innovative plan designs with top-tier customer service to offer the best health plan on the market.

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