Reducing Musculoskeletal (MSK) Short-Term Disability Claims

Musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions are a leading cause of short-term disability (STD) claims in the workplace, accounting for a significant portion of the overall STD burden. The cost of MSK STD to employers, employees, and the healthcare system is substantial, making it important for employers to take steps to address and reduce these claims.

The Size of MSK Short-Term Disability

MSK conditions, such as back pain, arthritis, and tendonitis, are among the most common reasons for workers to take time off from work. The cost of these STD claims to employers can be significant, with some estimates suggesting that the total cost of MSK STD in the US is in the billions of dollars. This cost includes not only the direct cost of paying for disability benefits but also the indirect costs associated with lost productivity and decreased job satisfaction.

Attempts to Address MSK Short-Term Disability

In an effort to address the high rate of MSK STDs, many employers have implemented various programs and initiatives to reduce the incidence of these conditions. Some employers focus on ergonomic interventions, such as providing ergonomic equipment and training, to reduce the risk of MSK injuries. Others have turned to early intervention and rehabilitation programs to help employees recover from MSK injuries as quickly as possible.

Integrative Care Reduces MSK STD by 30%

One of the most promising approaches to reducing MSK STD is integrative care, which combines conventional medical care with complementary medicine. Integrative care has been shown to be effective in reducing the incidence of MSK STDs by up to 30%, which can have a significant impact on reducing the overall cost of these claims.

Integrative care focuses on addressing the symptom (such as lower back pain) as well as contributing factors to the symptom, such as stress, diet, or sleep, with treatments that work holistically for the whole person. This leads to better outcomes than single-treatment approaches alone.

Case Study of 2 employers with 30% and greater reduction in STD

Two employers, a manufacturing employer and a biopharma company, launched Goodpath’s integrative care as a benefit to impact MSK spend in 2021. Both of these employers are also clients of Prudential, which shared and verified the outcome results.

By the end of 2022, there was a dramatic reduction in MSK claimants and incidence rate, as well as cost savings for both clients.

  1. The manufacturing client saw a 32% reduction in MSK STD Incidence

  2. The biopharma client saw a 49% MSK STD Incidence reduction

Prudential, the short-term disability provider for these employers, noted:

“The preliminary data shows a promising reduction in MSK STD Incidence and we are excited to see the full results leveraging Goodpath.” - Kristin Tugman, VP, Health and Productivity Analytics and Consulting Practice, Prudential 

Learn more about how Goodpath can help your team or access the full case study here