Survey Report 2021
Creating a Frictionless Healthcare Experience: What Members Want in Musculoskeletal Care
What members want in musculoskeletal care
In total, 87% of those surveyed have suffered from musculoskeletal conditions at some point in their lives, with the most common being back pain (64%). Over half of these individuals said their pain was moderate to severe and it impacted their daily life (work or play, or both). What’s more, 2 in 3 shared they have been suffering with this pain for over a year.
Over half said they have seen two or more providers who offered confusing advice. Miscommunication between the provider and member was a major complaint in the survey. Sixty-seven percent said they feel confused when they hear different things about their joint problems from different providers. Over half felt their information and past history gets lost when they go to multiple providers.
In fact, studies show that having multiple doctors who often recommend different treatment plans leads to more misdiagnoses, medical errors, and costs.1 In addition, studies demonstrate this often leads to overuse of unnecessary medical procedures and is a driver of the low quality of the US healthcare system as a whole.2
- Kern LM, Safford MM, Slavin MJ, et al. Patients’ and providers’ views on causes and consequences of healthcare fragmentation in the ambulatory setting: a qualitative study. J Gen Intern Med. 2019;34(6):899-907. doi:10.1007/s11606-019-04859-1
- Romano MJ, Segal JB, Pollack CE. The association between continuity of Care and the overuse of medical procedures. JAMA Intern Med. 2015;175(7):1148-1154. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.1340
Higher cost, worse outcomes
Surgery and injections are often the go-to solution
One-third of survey respondents were told to get invasive interventions, including surgery or injections, by their physicians. In fact, 40% of these members with moderate or severe pain had 1 or more surgeries for their MSK pain.
High co-pays also delay therapy, leading to worse outcomes. For those referred to physical therapy (PT), over half took more than two weeks to actually see a physical therapist. Based on the survey, 75% of patients had co-pays associated with PT, and almost half delayed getting PT treatment because of these expensive out-of-pocket costs.
This is bad news for members, employers, and health plans. In fact, multiple studies have shown that a delay in PT of over two weeks has been associated with worse outcomes.
Getting early PT within two weeks of seeing a physician leads to decreased physician follow-up visits, advanced imaging, spinal injections, spine surgery, emergency department visits, prescription medication use, and opioid use. In addition to reducing costs, early PT improves patient outcomes.