Webinar Series: SWORD Sessions, our virtual booth experience
SWORD Sessions: Bringing our booth to you — virtually!
SWORD Session 1 The Basics: Learn about SWORD Available on March 30
- Learn about SWORD, how we’re different from other digital MSK solutions, and how our intervention can benefit your business.
SWORD Session 2 The Experience: Virtual Demo Available on April 6
- Experience the SWORD digital therapy product just as our members do with a live virtual demo.
SWORD Session 3 The Results: Real Outcomes Available on April 9
- Learn how SWORD members are getting real results for chronic and post-op pain.
SessionBot: Find these sessions and moreSessionBot is a virtual conference assistant that brings together virtual sessions from employee benefits and digital health conferences, as well as standalone vendor sessions. This tool makes it easier to find and sign up for events then add them directly to your calendar. SessionBot allows you to curate your own virtual conference with only the sessions you want to see, at your own pace. If you have a suggestion for a virtual event to include, submit it here. We’re also welcome to other suggestions on how we can improve your experience.
Mar 27, 2020 • 2 min read
Introducing SessionBot: your Health and Benefits virtual conference assistant
SessionBot: See every virtual conference in one placeSessionBot brings together virtual sessions from employee benefits and digital health conferences such as the recently-cancelled Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Conference, National Business Group on Health Conference and the Conference Board’s Employee Healthcare Conference, and standalone vendor sessions. Thanks to the SessionBot, you can more easily access the knowledge you need to make decisions, mitigating the negative impact of travel restrictions and event cancellations.
Make the most of your time at homeAt SWORD, we know that being remote can have its benefits. Our Digital Therapist brings clinical-grade MSK therapy to members right in their homes, helping them overcome their pain faster and more effectively. And we hope our SessionBot will help you make the best use of your time during this period, too. “Our clients were letting us know they were dropping out of several conferences, so we decided to take action” says Kyle Spackman, VP of Sales at SWORD Health. “These conferences are a critical part of a Benefits team’s decision-making process - they’re places to learn, to make connections and to inform critical decisions about 2021 strategy. It’s great that so many events are going virtual, but we’re also hearing this is an overwhelming time for Benefits leaders, as they’re trying to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in their own businesses, as well as do their strategic work. We want to make it a little easier for them to do their day job.”
Check the daily updates and curate your own conferenceSessionBot will run for at least the Spring conference season, and we’re updating it daily. You can check the list, pick your favorite virtual sessions, and add a reminder to your calendar. If you have a suggestion for a virtual event to include, submit it here! Other suggestions on how to improve your experience are more than welcome, too.
Mar 18, 2020 • 2 min read
Live webinar: Outwitting the MSK Crisis with Cathryn Jakobson Ramin
In this webinar, you’ll learn:
- Why MSK is so common, devastating, and costly
- What works and what doesn’t in managing MSK pain
- How to take control of your MSK spend and make a real impact on people’s lives
About our guest, Cathryn Jakobson Ramin:As someone who endured persistent back pain for decades, Cathryn is no stranger to MSK issues. In an effort to resolve this problem, she ended up going on a six-year journey through the complexities of the back pain industry. The result was Crooked, the remarkable piece of investigative journalism that we’ll be discussing in this webinar.
Got a question, comment or feedback? Please send them to [email protected] We hope to see you at the webinar!
If the registration buttons don’t work, copy and paste this link into your browser: www.swordhealth.com/webinar-OutwittingMSK Can’t join us live? Make sure to still register! We’ll send you the recorded video after the webinar for you to watch at your convenience.
Feb 11, 2020
Tackling the #1 driver of employers’ health costs
MSK care is now the highest health cost for employersAll this pain is costing us, in more ways than one. With $190 billion dollars spent every year on musculoskeletal disorders alone, it comes as no surprise they were ranked as the top condition impacting healthcare costs by almost half the participants of the 2020 Large Employers' Health Care Strategy and Plan Design survey. MSKs were also among the top three cost-driving health conditions of 85% of the employers. The strain MSKs put on employers and employees is clear. But how exactly do they affect your organization’s health costs? And how can you manage these costs without jeopardizing quality of care? Let’s dive into these questions.
How does MSK care impact medical costs?The economic burden of MSK results from two types of costs: direct medical costs and indirect costs. Direct medical costs, as the name suggests, are the costs of treatment, such as surgery, imaging, drugs, and therapy. Indirect costs, on the other hand, typically consist of lost wages, worker replacement, and reduced productivity. Some of these costs - such as the effects of ‘presenteeism’ - are difficult to quantify, but can have a real impact on your company’s performance.
It creates a costly, redundant cycle of surgery, imaging, and pain medicationPeople struggling with MSK go through a series of distressing events to manage their pain. They typically start off by visiting their primary care doctor, who then refers them to a specialist, and sometimes also prescribes pain-relief medication. The specialist often requires diagnostic imaging to assess the need for surgery. In the end, whether the person goes through surgery or not, physical therapy is frequently the last cumbersome and time-consuming step towards rehabilitation. Alas, their journey seldom ends here, and they find themselves starting it all over again. For example, 20% to 40% of back surgery patients report having the same or increased pain one to two years after their surgery. This phenomenon is so common it even has a name — Failed Back Surgery Syndrome. The sum total of this vicious cycle amounts to around $190 billion a year in MSK spend alone — and a major slice of this cost pie is on the employer’s plate.
It leads to lengthy sick and disability absencesBetween bed days due to chronic pain or days away from work while recovering from surgery, musculoskeletal diseases lead to more lost workdays than any other condition. MSK accounts for more than 216 million missed workdays, more than four times as many as depression patients. They also report six times as many bed days as people with depression and circulatory conditions, totaling more than 752 million bed days due to back and joint pain. Add worker’s compensation into the mix, and you can see how these indirect costs can easily amount to millions.
It lowers workplace productivity and quality of lifeWhile absenteeism is a clear consequence of workers’ health problems, workplace presenteeism can be just as insidious. Presenteeism is the act of showing up for work despite being ill — a behavior often seen in chronic MSK patients. Why they choose to do it is unique to each person, but common reasons include job insecurity, work culture, and job demands. This phenomenon is not only detrimental to the employee’s wellbeing but also costly to organizations. People are significantly less productive when unwell, and eventually, overall organizational productivity is impacted.
How can we tackle MSK spend?The challenge in successfully tackling the rising costs of healthcare lies in finding the balance between curbing spend and improving people’s lives. In the past, this hasn’t been easy - and Benefits leaders have had to make tradeoffs. In an effort to find this balance, employers are implementing more virtual care solutions. SWORD Health is one such solution. SWORD is the first tech-enabled MSK care provider to pair licensed physical therapists with an easy-to-use digital therapist, helping people overcome chronic and post-surgical pain faster and more cost-effectively — and our results speak volumes.
We lower your direct medical costsOur clinically-validated approach strikes at the root of MSK spend by stopping the costly, ineffective care loop people get into when trying to manage their pain. By giving people access to best practice care for MSK - exercise, education and coaching - we reduce their risk of multiple surgeries and opioid addiction. Our programs have been proven to reduce surgeries by up to 50% and opioid use by 36%. And because they can perform their sessions from home, participants no longer have to take time off work, nor do they have to get reimbursed for travel expenses to physical therapy appointments.
We get people back to health faster and betterBecause MSK issues lead to more lost workdays than any other condition, getting people back on their feet sooner can have a big impact on your business. SWORD Health’s programs are highly engaging, showing unprecedented adherence levels. Because they follow their session without fail, they actually recover faster and better.
We help chronic MSK patients outsmart their painBy providing chronic MSK patients with the right tools to outsmart pain, our solution drastically reduces their pain levels in record time while teaching them how to overcome the pain-related fears that keep them from living their best lives and doing their best work.
A better way to overcome pain, for everyoneWhen your employees are free from pain, they’re happier, more productive, and contribute to a healthier work environment. Tackling the MSK problem in your workplace is less of a challenge with the right partner by your side. To learn more about how SWORD Health can help you reduce your MSK costs by as much as 30% and improve your employees’ lives, contact us today.
Jan 20, 2020 • 4 min read
2019: SWORD Health's Year in Review
More power to the peopleIn 2019, we provided the best care to twice as many patients! This means more and more people were able to follow their physical therapy programs from the comfort of their homes, spending more than 580,000 minutes with our digital therapists while saving more than a million miles of travel back and forth from PT centers.
A proven, better approach to MSK careThis year, we continued researching to prove we can provide patients with more effective physical therapy programs without them leaving their houses, facing traffic, and fitting appointments into their busy schedules. Two new studies showed our Digital Therapist can achieve better functional outcomes than conventional face-to-face physical therapy, not only short-term but also in the long run. And more people have started to notice how much of a fantastic alternative this is.
Clinical validation at the core, alwaysClinical validation is the hallmark of what we do. In the words of our CEO, Virgílio Bento, “it is the touchstone for every development we bring into our Digital Therapist.” Appointing a Clinical Advisory Board was, therefore, the next step towards that end. This group of specialists, whose expertise ranges from orthopedics to cognitive psychology, is now assisting us in our long-term clinical strategy as well as supervising the clinical studies within the company.
New allies for our missionWe began the second quarter of the year closing our Series A funding round, where we raised $8M to fuel our efforts towards tackling musculoskeletal conditions, the number one driver of employers’ medical costs in the US. This round was led by Khosla Ventures, a prominent venture capital firm focused on breakthrough technologies that can solve big problems. We couldn’t have asked for a better ally.
A digital health company to watchIn 2019, we earned our place as one of the most promising digital health companies in the world. SWORD Health won the Employer Wellness & Prevention category at the UCSF Digital Health Awards, being recognized as the best digital health solution aimed at employers. Along with this award, we were also ranked as one of the world’s 150 most promising digital health companies at the CB Insights “Future of Health” conference; featured in Wired’s 2019 list of the Hottest 100 Startups in Europe; and given an honorable mention in Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas 2019.
A stellar team in the makingOnly by having the most brilliant people working together can we achieve what we set our minds to — finding a smarter way to treat MSK. And we’ve been committed to finding the best. This year, we went further and hired not just great talent, but also the people who will help us scale and nurture this talent into the most stellar team in the digital health space.
2020: what’s next?Next year, we’ll keep the momentum going. We’ll reach more people and change their lives for the better. We’ll continue our research and add new features to improve our Digital Therapist. We’ll strive to make musculoskeletal care even more engaging, effective, and accessible. These are more than promises. They are commitments. Here’s to a pain-free 2020!
Dec 23, 2019 • 3 min read
Adding value to employee benefits: how SWORD Health can improve your workforce wellbeing
MSKs, the #1 driver of employers’ healthcare costs in the USIn the latest Large Employers’ Health Care Strategy and Plan Design Survey, Musculoskeletal conditions (MSKs) came in at the top spot — above cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular conditions — when participants were asked about specific disease classes driving up their healthcare costs. MSKs include low back, neck and shoulder pain, and hip and knee disorders. Within the working population, MSKs are responsible for 34% of all lost workdays. Plus, an employee with a musculoskeletal condition costs 2.3x more than a healthy employee. In addition to this financial impact, MSKs take a personal toll on affected workers, from not being able to work to facing the risk of opioid abuse and surgery.
How SWORD Health elevates employee benefitsAlong with the need to tackle musculoskeletal conditions in the workplace, 38% of large employers are considering the implementation of virtual solutions for MSK care over the next years. SWORD Health meets both the need and the want, providing the first and only clinically proven digital physical therapy solution that outperforms human therapists, lowers healthcare costs, and keeps patients highly engaged.
We take MSK care to a whole new levelSWORD Health developed the first digital MSK care solution that allows participants to independently perform their sessions at home while being remotely monitored by a clinical team. At the same time, we foster continuous education and behavioral coaching, so participants not only get better but stay better. We ensure they learn more about their condition, feel confident about their program, and change habits and behaviors to prevent or decrease the risk of further MSK problems. Our approach has shown to be faster and overall more effective than conventional physical therapy, and a reliable long-term solution.
We lower medical spend with MSK by as much as 30%SWORD Health’s digital solution cuts direct and indirect costs in musculoskeletal care by as much as 30% — without ever compromising quality. We tackle the most frequent MSKs, including chronic pain, post-surgery, and injury care. With us, employers only need one solution to cover the MSK problem in their workforce. Our programs to manage back and joint pain have shown to dramatically reduce pain, opioid consumption, and surgeries, saving thousands of dollars in unnecessary drugs and procedures. When it comes to rehabilitation, our digital approach saves up to 55% of costs by reducing overall physical therapy spend, cutting out transportation costs, and getting employees back to work sooner than with conventional care.
We provide a highly engaging solutionWith conventional physical therapy, almost 50% of patients quit their treatment after only four sessions. From transportation and scheduling constraints to not being confident about their own treatment, there are many barriers to adherence. Because we allow participants to perform their sessions at home, we’ve made musculoskeletal care more accessible and convenient to everyone, from people in remote areas to the ones juggling hectic schedules. And since we assign a licensed physical therapist to each participant, support and encouragement along the way are guaranteed. Our participants’ feedback speaks volumes about our approach, showing that SWORD Health programs are highly engaging and can keep people motivated through the end.
We enable a seamless implementationHealthcare is complex and employee benefits must not add to that complexity but make it simpler. We do it by integrating seamlessly into care navigation platforms and enabling a frictionless deployment of our innovative therapy solution. We also tailor our programs to each person’s individual MSK journey and promote the use of second medical opinion services as well as cross-referencing to other solutions as needed.
Nov 18, 2019 • 3 min read
Managing Low Back Pain in the workplace
Risk factors for low back pain at workLow back pain is a symptom that can result from different abnormalities and diseases. Most cases of LBP, however, are classified as non-specific, which means no specific cause can be defined as a source of pain. Non-specific low back pain is usually attributed to muscle sprains or strains and bad postural habits, which can be associated with work-related activities:
- heavy lifting, pushing or pulling, so often required in more physical jobs, can lead to injury and, consequently, to back pain;
- poor sitting posture and inactivity, common traits of desk jobs, can make way for low back pain to settle.
- repetitive tasks, such as manual packing of goods;
- maintained positions, which often happens while working with computers or driving long distances;
- and vibration, from operating with tools.
The impact of low back pain on the American workforceLow back pain is the leading cause of disability in working-age groups. Medical spend per adult with spinal problems is estimated at $6,000, with a total estimated amount of up to $102 billion per year. A recent study found that, although only 1.2% of US adults with newly diagnosed LBP and lower extremity had surgery, they still accounted for almost 30% of total 12-month health costs — $784 million. On the other hand, the total spending on healthcare for the other 98.8% who did not receive surgery was $1.8 billion. Interestingly, one-third of these patients received care that was inconsistent with clinical guidelines, which included expensive but dispensable imaging, and opioids. On top of this, guidelines also discourage the use of opioids, but one study showed they were prescribed for about 60% of ER visits for low back pain in the US. Also, prescription medication abuse is common in patients taking opioids for back pain, with up to 24% of cases showing aberrant medication-taking behavior. Surgery and opioid consumption are not only costly for employers, but also burdensome for employees. Surgery recovery typically takes long — around 12 weeks, and opioids are known to foster addiction. Therefore, it is easy to understand why low back pain is also associated with indirect costs related to work absenteeism and productivity loss. All things considered, there’s a need for new and effective alternatives to surgery and prescription drugs when managing low back pain.
How SWORD Health helps manage low back painSWORD Health has come up with a solution that provides positive outcomes while reducing health spending. In short, it brings advantages to both employees and employers.
We deliver better resultsCurrent clinical guidelines recommend the promotion of exercise therapy and positive health as the first-line treatment for non-specific low back pain. Positive health entails person-centered care that promotes the concept of living well despite the pain by focusing on self-management and education as a means to avoid bed rest and continue with usual activities — including work. The SWORD Health LBP Program is an evidence-based 12-week program to tackle low back pain. Following the most up-to-date guidelines, this program is based on the three pillars of musculoskeletal care: exercise therapy, continuous education, and behavioral coaching, all delivered through our unique Digital Therapist and continuously supervised by our clinical team. Our approach allows participants to perform their program from the comfort of their homes, which not only is feasible and safe, it’s actually better. Some of the factors that explain this positive outcome are the participants’ higher engagement and adherence to a home-based program with real-time feedback on performance; the data-driven decisions the system allows our physical therapists to make; and the access to a behavioral training program.
We provide the best care while cutting medical costsBecause patients overcome their pain faster and better, they are able to return to work and their daily activities sooner than what was previously expected. And what’s more, because we educate them with strategies and new behaviors to conquer pain, their use of opioids dramatically decreases. Our approach translates into an up to 50% reduction in surgeries, a 36% reduction in opioid use, and an overall reduction of about 30% in medical costs. If you would like to set up a benefits plan that helps you reduce your workforce’s burden with low back pain, reach out to our Strategic Business Development team.
Oct 29, 2019 • 4 min read
SWORD Health recognized as an Employer Wellness and Prevention Leader
The best Employer Wellness & Prevention solutionLast week, we achieved a new milestone: SWORD won the Employer Wellness & Prevention category at the UCSF Digital Health Awards 2019. SWORD was recognized as the “best wellness or prevention digital health product or solution aimed at employers.” [caption id="attachment_892" align="alignnone" width="650"] Our Founder and VP of Strategic Business Development receiving the award on behalf of SWORD Health[/caption] We were picked among more than 500 global entries in the competition by a distinguished panel of judges from the technology sector, healthcare companies, medical professionals, and investors. After a couple of rounds, we were awarded the “best wellness or prevention digital health product or solution aimed at employers.” “This award validates SWORD as the company that is leading innovation in the musculoskeletal space,” said our CEO and founder Virgilio Bento. “To have a jury composed of the most brilliant people working in both technology and health acknowledge our excellence is especially satisfying.”
About SWORD HealthSWORD has developed a ground-breaking Digital Therapist, which has been proven to work more effectively than conventional physical therapy while bringing treatment to patients’ homes. The technology is set to make treatment of Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD), which affects more than half of all Americans every year, affordable to millions of people. SWORD works with some of the biggest self-insured employers and health plans in the world to treat and prevent MSD. SWORD’s ultimate goal is to cut the costs of treating MSD by half. More than 50 percent of Americans struggle with MSD, requiring a yearly expenditure of $190 billion, making it the second-largest contributor to healthcare spending.
Oct 14, 2019 • 2 min read
Why understanding pain leads to better recovery
Pain is not just painPain is the way our body responds to a threat by prompting protective behaviors, which includes focusing attention on pain sources and avoidance. However, these protective behaviors may persist beyond the healing time, and this is when pain turns chronic, leading to pain-related disability. So, pain is more than just pain. It's the fear of pain and movement, the loss of function, and the inability to do the things we used to do out of the fear of them being harmful — even though most times they are not. However, feeling pain does not mean we have serious damage, nor it means we are doing further damage. The same applies to exercise therapy.
Exercise-induced pain is common and to be expectedWhen people struggling with a musculoskeletal condition are about to start their treatment, they often fear that physical therapy is painful. The answer is quite straightforward: yes, it is painful – at first. But this pain is normal, bearable, and nothing to be worried about. As the body gets used to the therapeutic exercises, the higher loads patients can tolerate, and the less and less pain they feel. In other words, there's a dose-response to exercise for musculoskeletal pain. Over time, people learn to expect increasingly challenging exercises while knowing they can tolerate them.
Moderately painful exercises are actually beneficialResearch has shown that doing moderately painful exercises offers better outcomes than doing exercises with no pain at all. It has also proved that exercising into pain has no apparent adverse effect when the aim is to manage chronic musculoskeletal pain. One of the discussed reasons for this response to exercise into pain was the positive impact on central pain processes, the immune system, and affective aspects of pain. In short, moderately painful exercises challenge the body’s threat response to pain, helping “reconceptualize” pain as safe and non-threatening. Consequently, people no longer perceive pain as equal to harm, being then able to reintroduce the same movements they were avoiding before. They learn how to cope with pain — and conquer it.
Being a coper, not an avoider, is the best way to conquer painDuring a painful event, it’s better to cope with pain and not give in to paralyzing pain-related fear. Changing the perception about pain is a tipping point between having a coping over an avoidance behavior. It includes challenging the attention bias, which happens when we focus our attention on how painful a particular movement is and end up feeling it more strongly. In other words, we end up catastrophizing pain. Exercising, as mentioned before, is a way of challenging this bias and reframing pain as not harmful. Another one is making a valued life goal a priority over pain. Focusing our attention on what really matters to us outweighs our pain-related fear. When we set goals and are optimistic about them, it becomes easier to hold back our fear-related protective behaviors.
After the pain, the recoverySWORD Health team took all critical aspects of pain management into account when developing our solution for musculoskeletal care.
- We promote exercise as the first-line approach to MSK management;
- We make goal-setting a priority, enabling participants to divert their attention from pain to their more objective, valued goals;
- We foster continuous education as a way of empowering people to put pain into perspective and go through with the program despite it.
Oct 10, 2019 • 3 min read
SWORD Care: a program to help the elderly prevent falls
What exactly is SWORD Care?SWORD Care is an integrated, engaging, efficient, and cost-effective approach to fall prevention, including both diagnostic and therapeutic tools. It includes automated assessment tools, thus overcoming the dependence on subjective and time-consuming scales. SWORD Care was developed in a two-year period, under a project co-financed by the Programa Operacional Norte 2020 through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). It was tested in a Porto-based facility with patients typically in the fall risk group. There was a total of 1130 sessions performed, adding up to more than 10h30 of treatment per patient during the 6-month testing period.
What results did SWORD Care get?We used several different tools and scales to measure SWORD Care’s results: • Timed Up and Go Test (TUG): 32% improvement • Five Times Sit to Stand Test (5xSST): 25% improvement • Berg’s Balance Scale (BBS): 56% improvement • Short Falls Efficacy Scale - International (FES-I): 34% improvement The results show that participants improved their overall balance by over 55%, while also reporting that their fear of falling decreased by more than a third. The advantages of the program are perfectly showcased by this 79-year old participant, Mrs. Veríssimo: "There are things I do here I would never have done in my life! It helps me throughout my day, my joints feel less rusty, I can move a lot better. The pain is gone and so is my instability.” Participants were asked to rate the program and they gave it a perfect ten. Their feedback truly shows their satisfaction, as you can tell by Mr. Godinho, 81, who says "I can move my arms and legs better and do chores that used to bother me. (…) I'm perfectly capable of performing the sessions on my own. I'm very satisfied, I really like this."
Sep 24, 2019 • 2 min read
Keeping pain under control while traveling
SWORD’s Digital Therapist: your trusty travel companionOur AI-powered digital therapist has been shown to help people complete their programs successfully from the comfort of their homes. But it’s just as useful while you’re away from home — here’s why.
It’s light and easy to carryThe Digital Therapist is small and lightweight enough to move around with ease. The tablet and motion sensors come in a practical case that fits any carry-on bag and is safe for air travel.
Setup is simple and fastAll it takes to get the Digital Therapist up and running is a WiFi connection and a stable surface for performing the exercises. Monica, one of our participants, took the Digital Therapist on vacation with her, doing her exercises by the pool with a bottle of wine as a weight. They do say necessity is the mother of invention!
You can do your sessions whenever you wantWhether you’re traveling for work or for play, you’re bound to get caught up between meetings, tours, and other events that fill up your days. With the Digital Therapist, you can easily fit sessions in whenever you find a break in your schedule.
Always on your side, anywhere you goWith its groundbreaking motion tracking technology and easy-to-carry system, you have enough reasons to add the Digital Therapist to your packing list. But the one detail that makes all the difference in the care you’re given is knowing you’ll get round-the-clock support wherever you are. Your therapist is available for live chat in your local timezone, and when you’re traveling somewhere far-flung, our on-call clinical team is there to support you. And because having someone watching over us boosts confidence and commitment, you’ll feel encouraged to continue your program — even while you’re away. To learn more about how SWORD can help you overcome pain wherever you are, contact us today.
Sep 3, 2019 • 2 min read