Employee MSK Problems: Disease-based Care vs Integrative Approach

Medically reviewed by Beth Holloway, RN, M. Ed
2020-11-16

Every established company offers health insurance to their employees, but is it going far enough? Most of us experience a health issue that is not so easily treated or diagnosed at least once in our lives, and for some people, this becomes a daily struggle.

In particular, those suffering from musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions may require multiple appointments with different healthcare providers. There's an easier way that breaks this cycle.

What are musculoskeletal conditions?

MSK conditions are those that affect bones, joints, muscles, and other structures.. This is a broad term that can include disorders like carpal tunnel syndrome and osteoarthritis.

At Goodpath, we focus on generalized back pain because it affects so many people. Back or spine problems are the second most common causes of disability among adults, and studies of U.S. workers found 149 million lost work days in one year due to back pain. 

The ripple effect on employers is clear. However, back pain might not be treated easily with conventional methods.

Where conventional healthcare falls short

Insurance companies will often dictate how we receive healthcare. They may require that patients see their primary care providers for referrals and control which facilities are "in-network."

Employees will usually:

  1. See their primary care provider (PCP)

  2. Receive treatment as prescribed

  3. Insurance and/or the employer pay their parts

  4. Feel better

This process works much of the time for routine medical issues or specific diseases. However, with more complex problems, care can become more costly and time-consuming.

These employees may:

  1. See their PCP

  2. Get treatment as prescribed

  3. If it doesn't work, try a home remedy paid out-of-pocket

  4. When initial care and home remedies don't work, go to a specialist

  5. May have very expensive testing ordered, e.g. MRI

  6. With test results, uncertainty about next steps

  7. More prescription medicines co-pays and approvals for therapy? Risky and costly back surgery?

  8. Feel confused and hopeless

This affects employers' and employees' expenses and results in lost productivity. A better approach lies in multiple approaches, with integrative care. 

Integrative care: the best of conventional and complementary care

Integrative healthcare puts the individual at the center, addressing all of their needs (physical, mental, emotional, and more). Treatments still focus on a person’s specific problems, but also cover their overall health and wellbeing. Typically, patients are prescribed various treatments for ongoing problems.

With an integrative approach like Goodpath's, someone with an MSK condition would experience something like this instead:

  1. See a personal coach

  2. Assess all factors involved in your pain - not just how it began, but also considers your diet, stress levels, activity, and more

  3. Begin a customized program built by medical specialists that includes nutrition, exercise, and mind-body techniques

  4. Revisit the plan monthly, and make adjustments as needed

  5. Feel better

Addressing everyone's needs

In the conventional healthcare system, sometimes people fail to get everything they need. It's important to provide your employees options.

In a cost utility analysis, evidence-based integrative healthcare treats back pain 4 times faster than conventional care and lowers pharmaceutical costs by at least 85% (analyzed in claims/patient data). That's great news for both employees and your medical budget.

Goodpath looks at the whole person and creates a plan to meet their short- and long-term needs for back pain, insomnia, and IBS. Our programs can be offered as an ancillary benefit in your company - implementation takes less than two weeks, from first introductions to the enrollment webinar.

Learn more about how Goodpath can work for your company and get a demo at goodpath.com/employer.