Survey Report 2021

Creating a Frictionless Healthcare Experience: What Members Want in Musculoskeletal Care

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Navigating the complex healthcare system is a top challenge for members. As benefits leaders and health plans prioritize creating a frictionless healthcare experience for their members, a closer look at the way musculoskeletal (MSK) care is delivered reveals a highly fragmented system leading to suboptimal outcomes. While back, neck, shoulder, hip, knee, and other joint pain affect over half of Americans today, the current member experience is often poorly coordinated. Multiple providers offer conflicting treatment advice or fail to look at a patient’s whole body and past history. The result? Ineffective care leading to poor outcomes for members and a hefty price tag for employers and health plans. Based on a survey of 1000 full-time US workers commissioned by Hinge Health and conducted in April 2021, this report shares a snapshot of the current MSK care experience for members, what’s behind the current fragmented state of MSK care, how to create a frictionless MSK healthcare experience for your members.

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

  1. 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
  2. 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

Key Takeaways

Musculoskeletal conditions
87% have suffered from a condition at some point in their lives
Fragmented care
Over half have had 2 or more providers offer confusing advice
Miscommunication
67% feel confused when they hear different things from providers

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.

Key Takeaways
Expensive out-of-pocket costs
Half delayed getting PT treatment due to costs
Key Takeaways
Expensive out-of-pocket costs
Half delayed getting PT treatment due to costs

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