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Reimagining Digital Healthcare and MSK Benefits: Highlights from Hinge Health’s DigitalCare Toolbox Talks

Hinge Health’s First Annual DigitalCare Toolbox Talks Draws Nearly 1k Health Benefits Leaders to Discuss the Future of Digital (and MSK) Care.

Published Date: Mar 29, 2021
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Betsy Yates
Director of Communications at Hinge Health.
Betsy Yates, Director of Communications at Hinge Health, focuses on getting Hinge Health’s story out to the world. Originally a reporter, she met her husband at a newspaper where he was the web/IT guy. They parent one human boy and two very loud huskies. Home has been Appalachian Ohio, Savannah, Boston and now Pittsburgh.

After a year of pandemic lockdown that chased a sizable chunk of the workforce into home offices and away from in-person healthcare experiences, nearly a thousand health benefits executives and leaders attended Hinge Health’s First Annual DigitalCare Toolbox Talks on March 18, to trade best practices in adopting smart digital health benefits, including musculoskeletal (MSK) care. Speakers represented top companies and public sector organizations including Salesforce, the Kraft Heinz Company, the State of New Jersey, Vidant Health and the Business Group on Health.

“We had hundreds of registrants within weeks of announcing this inaugural event, underscoring the demand for digital MSK care and the need to arm health benefits leaders with research and the easiest, most cost-effective way to support their workforces,” said Dan Perez, Hinge Health Co-founder and CEO.

The state of MSK care is evolving

As more people get their COVID-19 vaccinations and restrictions on public gatherings start to lift, digital health will continue to resonate with members and their employers, especially in MSK care. Dr. Jeff Krauss, Chief Medical Officer at Hinge Health, presented results of the Hinge Health 2021 State of the MSK report, an analysis of medical claims data for 40 million Americans covered by major health plans in the last decade.

“The data showed that MSK spend has doubled over the last ten years, but without a corresponding improvement in patient outcomes,” Dr. Krauss said.

Not surprisingly, a Business Group on Health survey found that 80% of large employers expect digital care to significantly impact the delivery of healthcare, compared to the 52% of large employers answering the same way in 2018. Of those surveyed, 68% said they plan to include a virtual MSK solution by 2022 or 2023. But now benefits leaders are on the hook for deciding which innovations will mean better outcomes for their members.

“Fancy tools do not guarantee care quality,” said keynote speaker Magda Rusinowski, Vice President, Business Group on Health. . “Along with cancer care, musculoskeletal care consistently ranks as a top health care cost driver. Investing in quality is one of the ways to reduce cost, so it’s important to choose the research-backed, outcomes-based solution.”

Confessions of a benefits leader: How Salesforce’s Gina Hanrahan weathered Covid

If you mention the pandemic in a room full of benefits leaders, you’ll see a wave of recognition wash over their faces as they discuss the record-fast pivot they took to provide workers with remote health care options. In the case of Salesforce, a Hinge Health MSK customer since 2017 with 35,000 members, the pandemic reinforced the need for digital health resources which luckily they had already started to implement. Gina Hanrahan, Director of North America benefits at Salesforce, said their benefits strategy positioned them ahead of the curve to meet members’ demand for digital health care services. “We had already implemented many virtual care and digital health solutions, including Hinge Health, prior to the pandemic. But, in light of the pandemic, we focused on improving how we communicated these benefits to our members as we wanted to make it easy to navigate their healthcare benefits,” she said. They implemented an internal campaign to remind employees how they could access virtual health care services, including pharmacy-by-mail benefits and ways to get preventative and chronic care treatments. Read how Salesforce innovated their MSK benefits and reduced medical claims by 60%.

A frictionless healthcare experience could redefine MSK care

From a panel of benefits leaders from top companies discussing the best ways to deliver digital health solutions, the theme of simplicity continued to emerge.

“To me, a frictionless health care system eases the burden for the customer through highly intuitive navigation of benefits. So many people don’t have the capacity to do that themselves, or give up after the first obstacle. We need to make this process easier for them,” said Scottie Gaskins, Senior Administrator of Wellness at Vidant Health, a nine-hospital network that includes physician practices, home health, and outpatient rehab services. “I also believe we must continue to push for greater coverage of lifestyle care, to engage members earlier upstream to actually avoid, delay or reverse many of our top chronic conditions that are mostly lifestyle based diseases with lower cost, less invasive yet highly effective treatment.”

Meeting the member where they get their information, whether it’s via email or social media or through the mail, is essential to educating them about the healthcare system and how to interact with it based on their health care insurance eligibility.

Christin Deacon, Assistant Director of Health Benefit Operations and Policy and Planning, State of New Jersey, Department of Treasury, said some friction in the health care system can be traced to consumers who don’t have the information that would arm them to be empowered consumers of healthcare. “For us, a key initiative is empowering our members to be smarter healthcare consumers as they navigate the healthcare system. A big part of this is education. Before we go to market with a new point solution, we prime our audience with information through a multi-channel strategy.”

Making healthcare as convenient as possible and removing hurdles to care, so employees can make smart choices is one of Kraft Heinz’s goals as well. Better access to the right care, such as less-invasive options to improve member outcomes, is a key part of this strategy. Amy Ostop, Head of US benefits, The Kraft Heinz Company, shared, “There are also a lot of unnecessary surgeries when there could be an easier intervention, which is where Hinge Health comes in, to provide smarter, less-invasive care.”

The half-day ended with Hinge Health CEO Daniel Perez sharing how Hinge Health is innovating next-generation MSK care through the addition of Enso, a breakthrough wearable technology for non-addictive, non-invasive pain management, to the Digital MSK Clinic. Attendees also participated in wellness sessions led by Hinge Health physical therapists to guide the group with movement exercises and expert advice on setting up an ergonomic home office.

Attendees of Digitalcare Toolbox Talks are already telling us they’ll return for 2022, saying “I loved hearing about what's working for other businesses and how they've adapted to the post-pandemic world” and “Very useful information on actual outcomes and results from real-life customers.

We look forward to seeing you at our Digitalcare Toolbox Talks conference in 2022!

To view the conference sessions on-demand, click here. To learn how Hinge Health’s Digital MSK clinic can make end-to-end MSK care easier for your members, including our new breakthrough wearable technology for pain management, request a demo below.

Hinge Health’s Digital MSK Clinic offers a complete clinical team including physicians, physical therapists, health coaches, and other specialists as well as advanced wearable technology to more effectively reduce back and joint pain at lower spend.