Why employers are choosing to partner with Sword Health

Why Sword
August 31, 2020
Sword Health's corporate musculoskeletal programs

It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that digital musculoskeletal (MSK) care is hot right now. The Business Group on Health just released their Large Employers Health Care Strategy and Plan Design survey, and once again, employers cite MSK as the top condition driving healthcare costs. Many employers are waking up to the fact that digital solutions can help them find a way out of this conundrum - 68% of large employers will look to implement a corporate musculoskeletal program by 2023. But not all digital solutions are created equal, and there’s some skepticism in the market about whether digital solutions actually work. This makes for some interesting conversations with employers in the market for a solution.

When I say I’m in Sales, people often say “you must get sick of talking.” The truth is, I don’t talk that much (and when I do, I let our product do most of the heavy lifting). I spend more of my time listening. I’ve been doing a lot of listening lately, to both our employer and health plan customers as well as partners in the consultant community. I’m particularly interested, as you might expect, in the reasons they’re choosing to work with Sword Health. Here’s what I’m hearing:

100% of the care is delivered by Doctors of Physical Therapy

There are many models for care delivery in digital MSK - some providers use clinicians only, and others use non-clinicians. At Sword, our members are only ever treated by a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) - the same DPT is with the member for every single step of their journey to better health. We’ve chosen this model because it significantly reduces the risk of incorrectly identifying conditions, and because continuity of care is so important. Our DPTs are also more skilled and qualified at motivational coaching than non-clinical coaches, so the mental and emotional parts of their recovery are taken care of, too. One employee benefit consultant recently told me, “I don’t know why anyone would choose to put their members’ health in the hands of non-clinicians.”

Our medical-grade sensors deliver accurate, actionable feedback

Exercise is the cornerstone of a great MSK program, but it only works if the PT is getting accurate feedback on how the member is moving. In the clinic, physical therapists use their eyes to gauge whether their patient is moving in the right way and their hands to physically adjust their patient’s position. This feedback is vital for the DPT, because without it, they’re flying blind.

When it comes to digitizing this feedback, there are a few ways to do it. Some digital MSK vendors use wearable motion sensors, others use inbuilt sensors on devices (like the accelerometer on your phone), others don’t use feedback at all. At Sword, we’ve developed wearable sensors that are more accurate at detecting movement than the human eye and the only device that’s been listed by the FDA as a Class II medical device.

These sensors give the member real-time feedback on how they’re performing, and help correct movements that aren’t performed correctly. The members’ DPT gets detailed info on how the member has performed each exercise, and they use this to modify their program as they go. Our DPTs update our members’ programs between 2-4 times per week, depending on how they’re progressing. Each member’s journey is unique, and sometimes the DPT can add exercises or make them harder, other times they need to scale back to ensure they’re able to do their exercises safely.

Our solution works for everyone, today

Finally, an MSK solution is only as good as the number of people it can help. A one-stop-shop is not just simpler to implement and manage, it significantly improves the cost savings potential.

At Sword, our solution covers all the major joints - back, knee, hip, shoulder, neck, ankle and elbow. Almost half (43%) of our members are receiving therapy for shoulder, neck, ankle and elbow conditions - vendors that don’t have the capability to treat these conditions today are leaving those members to consider other more costly interventions, like surgery and meds.

Our solution can also treat MSK conditions at every point in the journey, from preventing and addressing acute conditions, to managing chronic pain, to rehabbing after surgery. The large majority (71%) of our members come to us with chronic pain, but for the one-third of members with acute or sub-acute pain, we’re once again giving them an alternative to expensive and ineffective treatments.

"Sword stood out in the number of joints supported, the PT involvement and the real-time feedback through the sensors." - Sword client

Most importantly, it works.

When you add these three things together, you get the best possible results for the largest amount of people. We’re proud to say that our corporate musculoskeletal program works. In clinical trials, we’ve proven that Sword can achieve 30% better outcomes than the gold standard of care: three hours of traditional PT per week. In the real world, Sword’s solution reduces members’ pain by 70%, making them 64% less likely to consider surgery and 36% less likely to resort to medication.

Want to learn more?

If you’d like more insight into how Sword’s solution compares, reach out and we’ll get in touch.

Be well, Kyle

About Kyle Spackman

Kyle’s commitment to improving health outcomes began while working as a microbiologist in the State of Utah Public Health Lab. Today, Kyle combines his business acumen with his passion for outcomes to help digital health providers make healthcare more accessible for all. He has led Enterprise Sales at Artemis Health and drove operational efficiency at the Utah Department of Health.

Kyle holds a Bachelors in Public Health and Biology and a Masters of Business Administration, both from the University of Utah. When he’s not listening to the needs of employers and plans, you’ll find him out and about in the Utah mountains with his wife McKenna and three children.

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