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MSK Pain is Prevalent Among Workforce

MSK Pain is Prevalent Among Workforce

May 23, 2022
This type of illness consumes one-sixth of employer-sponsored plan dollars in the US and costs $600 billion.

A new study, State of MSK Report, which sources its data from the CDC as well as the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), representing over 252 million American adults, produced some rather startling results.

The first was that one in two Americans experiences back, neck, shoulder, or other musculoskeletal (MSK) pain in any given year. 

The second is that the economic cost of MSK medical claims has doubled in the U.S. over the last decade, despite the population with MSK conditions remaining relatively constant.

MSK care remains one of the top three cost drivers in the U.S. health system – consuming one-sixth of employer-sponsored plan dollars and costing $600 billion to the U.S. economy.

Part of the cost is that people with MSK pain missed 8.2 days of work, more than double the average workers’ sick days. For those who experience MSK pain and mental health needs, the figure increases to 13 days.

And when it comes to surgery rates and costsOregon, Kentucky, and Montana led the nation in MSK surgery rates, almost 3 times higher than the lowest rate states (New Mexico, California, and Georgia). In terms of surgery (spinal) cost, California ($28,180), Alaska ($25,294), and Wyoming ($22,162) top the list – almost 2.3 times higher than the lowest-cost states (Rhode Island, Tennessee, Arkansas).

The report makes five key recommendations to employers and health plans:

1. Understand the impact across the member population

Analyze MSK and mental health medical claims, opioid prescriptions, and segment them by zip codes to determine populations benefiting from alternative care. Launch holistic care strategies once the most vulnerable population is identified.

2. Treat the whole person

Go beyond physical therapy and provide an integrated clinical care team that includes doctors of physical therapy, health coaches, physicians, and orthopedists. Members receive personalized exercise therapy plans, lifestyle support, and expert second opinions in this comprehensive care environment.

3. Utilize digital technology to break down barriers to care 

Allow members to access consistent best-practice care at home with zero deductibles and avoid unpaid time off work. Choose a digital MSK provider that offers clinically validated care via an all-in-one app, applying the latest advances in computer vision and sensor technologies to improve the member experience.

4. End siloed patient care 

Utilize electronic medical record integration across in-person and digital care providers and help care teams intervene in real-time.

5. Employ solutions with proven ROI 

Implement care solutions with a proven track record of engagement and impact. Drive positive economic and health outcomes with care options that are comprehensive and clinically validated

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