(Virtual) Physical Therapy: A More Convenient and Cost-Effective Option for Musculoskeletal Care
What is MSK?
More than half of America suffers from musculoskeletal (or MSK) conditions. MSK issues include back, shoulder, knee, neck, and other joint pain, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoporosis.
MSK conditions limit mobility and movement, decrease levels of well-being, and reduce the ability to participate in exercise as well as daily activities.
The High Cost of MSK
MSK conditions are one of the top cost drivers of healthcare spending for employers and can often lead to other serious conditions. For example, many of those with MSK issues have the following:
- A 25 percent higher risk for cancer
- A 2x increased risk for heart disease
- An increased rate of screening positive for mental health conditions (8 in 10)
- An increased rate of diabetes: fifty percent with MSK pain have diabetes
- (vs. 10% of the general population)
The annual cost of MSK conditions, including healthcare costs and lost productivity, is $600 billion, more significant than the yearly costs of heart disease ($309 billion), cancer ($243 billion), and diabetes ($188 billion).
The work-from-home shift worsened the issue; 70% of employees with MSK conditions reported that their pain has worsened or they are experiencing new pain since starting to work remotely.
Half of MSK surgeries, which are very expensive, are avoidable with preventative care like physical therapy, yet many do not seek it out, or complete it, due to the perceived price and inconvenience.
In fact, 70% of people who seek physical therapy do not attend all visits, and according to a recent study, 47% of low-back pain patients give up after just four sessions.
A New Type of Care
Virtual healthcare or telehealth is now more accessible and commonplace than ever due to the pandemic. People can easily attend virtual appointments with less impact on their daily schedule.
Now there are solutions in the marketplace for virtual physical therapy care. The convenience of virtual physical therapy improves satisfaction and the likelihood of completing sessions and prevents more severe conditions from developing. This benefits employers because employees miss less work time and the care the employees receive is likely to prevent a more costly surgery down the road.
Some health insurance carriers are offering these virtual PT programs through their health plans and there are also several vendors in the marketplace that offer these services to employers at an affordable price. Contact your broker or the team at Kelly Benefits Strategies for more information about this innovative offering and how we can help you bring it to your employees.