With Atlas, Companies Can Fight Pain and Promote Health Equity Across Global Teams

Sword Solutions
November 30, 2023
Fight pain, promote health equity across global teams with Atlas

Pain is a global crisis—2 billion people suffer from pain, making it the world’s foremost epidemic.

At Sword Health, we believe that a global crisis deserves a global solution. So we created Atlas, the first pain-fighting solution that’s accessible around the world.

Atlas, the World’s First Global Pain-Fighting Solution

Atlas is a first-of-its-kind solution that delivers clinically validated exercises and education to address acute and chronic pain, accessible around the world. This powerful combination—clinical exercise therapy, paired with science-backed education to help members create healthy habits, understand their pain, and reduce risk of injury—is a highly effective defense against existing and future pain.

Launching in 150 countries, Atlas is available to members through the Sword app no matter where they live. It answers the growing demand for benefits solutions that serve all members of a global workforce. Designed to advance Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) efforts, Atlas saves benefits leaders from having to source individual point solutions for every country they hire in—or worse, having to explain why they can offer great solutions to employees in some countries but not in others.

Take Latin America, for example. Musculoskeletal (MSK) disorders are prevalent in the region—in fact, work-related MSK disorders are one of the most common chronic non-communicable diseases, and the one-year prevalence of nonspecific low back pain is up to 67%. According to a 2021 study in the International Journal for Equity in Health, it is also a region in which “health systems are deeply fragmented and segmented, which poses great challenges related to the provision of quality of care and overall equity levels in health.” This means that, in many places, historically marginalized groups such as women, the LGBTQ+ community, ethnic minorities, and indigenous peoples are unable to access the healthcare services they need.

Companies with employees in Latin American countries now have the opportunity to offer a solution that bridges these gaps—because no one should have to live in pain. Not only is Atlas available in both Portuguese and Spanish, the two primary languages of the region, it is conveniently accessible to employees across Latin America via the Sword mobile app. Employees can start using Atlas to find relief from their pain immediately—without ever worrying about waiting lists, commutes, waiting rooms, or copays. In turn, companies will immediately reap the benefits of healthier, happier employees with less pain and fewer injuries.

Keep reading to learn more about why we created Atlas—and how it answers the global need for accessible, effective MSK care.

The Global MSK Pain Epidemic

Much of the world’s pain is attributable to MSK disorders, or impairments of the muscles, bones, joints, and connective tissues. According to the World Health Organization, over 150 diseases/conditions fall under the umbrella of MSK disorders, which “are typically characterized by pain (often persistent) and limitations in mobility and dexterity, reducing people’s ability to work and participate in society.”

Just how prevalent are MSK disorders? And how devastating are their consequences?

  • MSK disorders affect over 20% of the world’s population.
  • MSK pain is the most common form of non-cancer pain worldwide.
  • Low back pain is the single leading cause of disability in over 80% of countries.

In every country, MSK pain renders people disabled, depressed, and unable to live their lives to the fullest. It also makes it harder for them to do their jobs, which seriously hinders the productivity and profitability of companies around the world. MSK conditions are a leading cause of absenteeism, presenteeism, and early retirement among working-age individuals.

It is estimated that the total cost of lost productivity due to MSK disorders among workers in the European Union could be as high as 2% of gross domestic product. What’s more, the direct cost of MSK conditions to employers is astronomical—3 out of 4 large employers in the U.S. point to MSK conditions as the number one driver of their healthcare spending.

Barriers to Accessing Pain-Fighting Solutions

Why is this global epidemic of MSK pain so persistent, and so difficult to solve? Because most people in the world don’t have access to the care they need to feel better.

High-quality physical therapy (which entails both therapeutic exercise and education) is a clinically and cost-effective way to treat MSK disorders and should be the first line of defense against MSK pain. But direct access to physical therapy (PT) is only available in 48 out of the world’s 195 countries.

And even in countries where PT is available, not everyone can access it. There are countless barriers to accessing timely, appropriate PT treatment: high costs, living far away from healthcare facilities, lack of transportation, scheduling conflicts, provider shortages, and long waiting lists to see providers, to name a few.

Without access to PT, many people just live with their pain. Others turn to less effective interventions for pain management, which often fail to attack pain at the source—and, in some cases, actually do more harm than good. For instance:

  • Pain medications can be highly addictive and are akin to slapping a bandage over the problem without interrogating its root cause.
  • Surgery takes a massive toll on the body (and the wallet), often leading to further complications and failing to resolve pain over the long term. Studies show that 50% of MSK-related surgery is unnecessary and likely could have been avoided through timely PT treatment.
  • Other pain-relieving techniques tend to be costly, yet offer only short-term relief from pain—which is why they are often referred to as “low-value” interventions. Examples include steroid injections, which can have serious side effects like infection and allergic reaction, and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS).

With Sword, Companies Can Free Their People from Pain

Resolving barriers to access and reducing low-value care is precisely why Sword Health was created. Since our inception, our mission has been to free the world from pain by using technology to fundamentally reinvent how patients access and receive care.

We started chipping away at the global pain problem by launching scalable solutions in Portugal and Australia in 2018, going to market in the U.S. in 2020, and expanding into Puerto Rico and the U.K. in 2023. Currently, we serve 10,000 employers across three continents.

But we haven’t had a solution that’s available in every country—until now. Seeing how much Sword products helped their people, our clients asked us to develop a solution that creates equitable access for every single employee, no matter where they live.

Which is why we created Atlas, a solution to support the entire workforce at global companies. By delivering clinically validated exercise and education around the world, Atlas gives employees the opportunity to live life free from pain—and forward-thinking benefits leaders the opportunity to enhance their DE&I efforts.

If you want to learn more about how Atlas can increase workforce productivity while reducing absenteeism and driving down healthcare costs—request a demo today.

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