Managing Musculoskeletal Health with Digital Therapeutics in the Age of COVID-19

How digital therapeutics are helping employers and health plans to personalize care and better manage those with chronic conditions.

The burden of chronic health conditions and MSK

Chronic health conditions affect more than 3.2 billion patients globally, and six in 10 adults in the U.S. have a chronic disease. These factors combined with an aging population and a highly fragmented healthcare system are driving an increase in the prevalence and cost of chronic health conditions, especially musculoskeletal pain. This challenging scenario has been brought into much sharper focus in the wake of COVID-19 restrictions and measures.

The current burden of COVID-19 is negatively impacting the ability of patients worldwide to self-manage their conditions due to physical distancing, isolation, and complications in accessing healthcare services. All of this is taking place in the setting of a system designed for acute care (as opposed to chronic care) with a costly delivery model.

The way forward

To help employers better understand and tackle this problem, Kaia Health and Virgin Pulse partnered to present a webinar titled Successfully Managing Musculoskeletal Health with Digital Therapeutics. Attendees learned about digital therapeutics (DTx), and how this new category of medicine goes beyond the current standard of care to help employers better manage those with chronic musculoskeletal conditions (MSK), the leading driver of lost workdays and healthcare spend in the workplace.

Jessica Cooper, Regional VP of Business Development at Kaia Health, and Dr. Gary Smithson, Medical Director at Virgin Pulse, shared how DTx can be applied to successfully manage MSK conditions. Attendees were treated to a deep dive into metrics of success and clinical trial results supporting the Kaia Health Pain Management app–a digitized, multimodal pain rehabilitation program with personalized, human coaching.

Using the Kaia Health app as an example, the webinar demonstrated how one of the most advanced digital therapeutics available today uses a multimodal rehabilitation approach to successfully address chronic pain and directly impact economic outcomes and drive value for the organization.

The Kaia Health app represents a clinically successful option outside of the costly, traditional, chronic MSK pain care pathway, offering a best-in-class, multimodal, pain management therapy at a low cost.

“Our approach is, of course, addressing the physical aspects of pain,” explained Cooper. “But it’s also addressing these biosocial factors via the relaxation exercises and the education. So we’re really able to educate our users about how and why they are experiencing pain, and this helps them to feel more empowered to address this pain.”

“Our approach is, of course, addressing the physical aspects of pain. But it’s also addressing these biosocial factors via the relaxation exercises and the education. So we’re really able to educate our users about how and why they are experiencing pain, and this helps them to feel more empowered to address this pain.”

Jessica Cooper, Kaia Health

Cooper described how the Kaia Health app works as a self-managed pain program for employees suffering from chronic MSK disorders, which includes exercises for back, hip, knee, shoulder, and upper arms.

Dr. Smithson talked about the importance of providing support across the continuum of care.

“Chronic conditions are prevalent, costly, and on the rise, and the traditional healthcare system is designed for acute care, and does not work very well for chronic care,” observed Dr. Smithson. “The highly fragmented nature of our system is antithetical to the integrated, comprehensive approach that is necessary to address complex, chronic conditions effectively and efficiently.”

Emerging DTx technologies are changing the way in which individuals interact with today’s healthcare system to better address chronic MSK pain. The most innovative and successful digital therapeutic companies are using smartphone technology coupled with digital biomarkers and evidence-based interventions to complement traditional, clinic-based therapy, thereby saving time, money, and disability.

“Chronic conditions are prevalent, costly, and on the rise, and the traditional healthcare system is designed for acute care, and does not work very well for chronic care. The highly fragmented nature of our system is antithetical to the integrated, comprehensive approach that is necessary to address complex, chronic conditions effectively and efficiently.”

Dr. Gary Smithson, Virgin Pulse

Engaging members through digital therapeutics

The good news is that acceptance of virtual medicine and digital therapeutics by providers and health plans has accelerated rapidly. Employers, payers, and providers are becoming increasingly comfortable with digital therapies for MSK pain and other chronic conditions. This offers employers and health plans the opportunity to attack the number one driver of healthcare spend while delivering superior health outcomes along with increased user engagement and job satisfaction.

Meanwhile, Kaia Health is driving value informed by the latest medical evidence. This approach helps prevent future MSK-related medical costs and increase productivity while reducing lost work days and reducing spend per existing MSK patient.

Used by more than 450,000 people to date, Kaia Health is at the leading edge of the technological revolution, empowering MSK health through digital engagement while expanding our offerings into COPD and hip and knee pain.

To learn more about how we can help your organization minimize the impact of chronic musculoskeletal pain on physical and mental health, and ensure the safety, success, and well-being of employees, schedule a brief intro call or demo with our team.

Further Reading