Kaia Health App Improves MSK Pain and Lowers Medical Claims

MSK Pain Management app delivers consistent, gradually improving results

3 min read

Tackling the MSK challenge

Musculoskeletal (MSK) disorders are a major driver of medical claims for employers, including self-insured employers. In fact, MSK back pain accounts for more lost workdays and more healthcare spend than any other chronic health condition, and MSK disorders result in annual direct costs to U.S. employers of $20 billion and indirect costs of $100 billion.

Illustration showing how MSK conditions impact employees and the workforce.

MSK medical claims drive employer costs

A self-insured employer facing these exact kinds of MSK challenges recently turned to Kaia Health to help manage its chronic MSK population and reduce costs. MSK disorders were among the top three drivers of claim costs for the employer, a Florida-based health system. The employer reported MSK claims were impacting about 30% of the health plan’s population, consistent with medical expense trends among employers throughout the U.S.

Kaia Health, which specializes in digitizing best-in-class multidisciplinary therapies for chronic diseases, went to work immediately. To help demonstrate its MSK Pain Management app’s effectiveness, Kaia Health and the company deployed Kaia’s MSK program in March 2019.

Illustration showing first year results of Kaia's MSK program.

Kaia Health app improves health, decreases costs, returns 1.6(x) ROI

From March through June 2019, 125 users out of a population of 3,000—including both employees and dependents (4.3% of the eligible population)—were enrolled in the program. Existing users could continue to use the program through March 2020. Results of the trial program revealed the following:

  • Active Kaia app users* completed an average of 5.1 Kaia app sessions per week during the 3 months following program introduction, with users suffering from severe nonspecific pain** seeing a 50% pain level decrease
  • Active Kaia app users experienced a 62% incremental reduction in medical claims costs as compared to the control group (Kaia enrollees who were not active in the program)
  • The employer realized a 62% incremental reduction in annual claims costs driven by a 39% reduction in the number of MSK medical claims and a 38% reduction in costs per claim

"Since I do Kaia every day before my morning coffee, my back pain is under control, and I don't have to take painkillers anymore. There's no easier way!"

Angela, 43

Our analysis, based on hard claims data as a measure of ROI, suggests the introduction and consistent use of the Kaia Health app contributed to meaningful cost savings for this self-insured employer. The Kaia Group in the recent Rise-up study randomized controlled trial reflects the same cost-reduction trend. Further cost-effectiveness evidence from this trial will become available in 2021.

The Kaia Health app trial resulted in a 22% net cost savings, or $305 per user per year, which represented a 1.6(x) ROI in the first year of deployment.

Illustration showing the incremental impact of Kaia MSK app on users 12 months after launch.
Incremental impact of Kaia MSK app on users in the 12 months following program launch, including return on investment gained.

In the period captured for claims, there were no surgeries recorded in either group, which is not surprising given the relatively small population in the trial. However, we believe that in larger populations with a higher probability of surgeries occurring, the ROI of the Kaia Pain Management platform would be even higher.

Evidence-based, integrated, MSK digital therapeutic

Each day, Kaia Health supports self-insured employers and tens of thousands of employees with our evidence-based, integrated, and scalable MSK digital therapeutic. For employers and corporate wellness programs, our unique approach can deliver app-based MSK therapies to help your benefits team save money, increase engagement, and improve health and well-being. Implementing the Kaia app could be one of the most rewarding and cost-effective approaches your organization can take in the coming year.

To learn more about how we can empower your organization to minimize the impact of chronic musculoskeletal pain while reducing medical spend, schedule a brief intro call or demo with our team.

* An Active Kaia user is one who had completed modules on four or more days during the time the Kaia app was available.

** Defined as a starting pain level of 4 or greater on the Numeric Rating Scale.

Further Reading