Jul 21, 2023
Managing MSK Issues More Effectively with Virtual Care

124 million people in the U.S. face challenges of musculoskeletal (MSK)-related issues.

Mens Health Month
Q: Why is it so important to offer more care options to patients with MSK problems / pain?

It’s been recently reported that more than 124 million people in the U.S. face challenges of musculoskeletal (MSK)-related issues. And it’s been estimated that MSK conditions incur medical care expenditures of about $240 billion, or around 2.9% of the U.S. GDP. 

If we think about how widespread this problem is, it’s pretty clear why we need to address it. Many adults have experienced one or more episodes of musculoskeletal pain during their lives, regardless of age, gender, or economic status. It affects about 47% of the general population, and of those, about 39-45% have long-lasting problems that require medical consultation. 

MSK conditions are such an important and widespread issue. As a primary care physician, I understand how important it is to effectively treat these issues and help patients return to their normal lives and activities.

Q: Should patients with MSK issues begin their care path using virtual care?

Absolutely! There have been many advancements in virtual care. Today it’s very likely that a virtual primary care physician can help a MSK patient start the path to recovery. First, they’re immediately available and, additionally, can help by identifying specific causes, evaluating the patient’s current symptoms, and determining next steps and best care options.

Q: What will the virtual Primary Care Physician (PCP) do?

We’ll start with an initial consultation. Patients can chat about their symptoms, medical history and complete an initial evaluation. The patient may be asked to complete self-assessment tests to provide more detail on their current issue. This will help the physician determine the appropriate course of action and watch for red flag symptoms / concerns and then determine next steps. This can be home care, needing an in person visit, or diagnostic tests.

The PCP may provide links to digital resources - ranging from links to exercises the patient can begin doing to a referral to a specific virtual MSK care provider, like RecoveryOne

Depending on the treatment plan, the patient can be scheduled for follow-up visits, for example, a check in with a health coach or ongoing care with a physical therapist. Via virtual care, the care provider can assess progress, adjust treatment plans and address any questions or concerns the patient has.

The virtual PCP helps ensure the patient is presented with the best care options, which can include a referral to physical therapy or direction toward specific YouTube videos or articles that demonstrate beneficial exercises. It’s very easy to provide materials to support patient education and self-management in the virtual environment, with numerous resources available for exercises, pain management techniques, ergonomic recommendations and even lifestyle modifications.

Q: Can patients achieve recovery through treatment in a virtual care environment?

Yes! Even patients needing a specific care plan with a physical therapist can now be treated effectively at home, working with a virtual care provider. Remote physical therapy is very cool! CirrusMD has partnered with RecoveryOne, an organization that shares our belief that care begins with a human, and technology can amplify that connection.

RecoveryOne uses a whole team of experts, from physical therapists to health coaches, and they’ve created an adaptive platform called Motion Trainer, which is powered by AI and computer vision technology. By pairing physical therapists with machine learning, Motion Trainer gives members instant feedback on their form wherever they are. 

Patients are extremely happy with this approach, rating RecoveryOne highly in patient satisfaction, while claims data shows decrease cost in care as patients improve their quality of life.

Q: Are there specific groups of employees who most frequently need a virtual MSK program?

As I talk with the CirrusMD team of doctors, we all agree – we see a wide range of people with MSK issues, so these issues aren’t specific to any one group or type of work. Injuries happen all the time; sometimes issues can surface without any injury at all. Being able to manage problems effectively from the beginning can help decrease or even eliminate long term issues.

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