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Five key strategies for managing employee health

As more U.S. employers make the transition to self-insuring their workforce, the role of HR benefits professionals has shifted, landing them squarely in the business of healthcare. Rather than researching the best plans available on the market, they’re focused on managing employee health through prevention and wellness programs and developing proactive strategies to provide the best outcomes for employees while mitigating care costs.

While there are many ways to tackle these challenges, we’ve put our experience to work to develop five tried and true strategies that can help employers control costs without sacrificing quality care.

1. Focus on MSK issues

Employee health can be as varied and complex as the number of unique individuals within your workforce. With so many contributing factors, it can be difficult to determine which efforts will have the greatest impact. However, a look at the data shows that Muskuloskeletal (MSK) conditions affect the greatest number of employees and are among the highest-cost issues that employees and employers face. MSK conditions include more than 200 bone and muscle disorders, like low back pain, arthritis, and joint pain. Many MSK conditions are chronic, painful, and expensive to treat, resulting in a tremendous human and financial toll.

Here are a few quick facts:

More than half of all American adults report MSK conditions - twice the rate of all heart and lung conditions combined.1

Direct care costs for MSK issues total $213 billion.2

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that MSK issues are responsible for 34% of all lost workdays.3

Adding the indirect costs of MSK issues like missed workdays and lack of productivity at work takes the pricetag up to a staggering $874 billion per year.4

With numbers like these, it’s easy to see how focusing efforts on addressing MSK issues can offer self-insured employers significant employee health gains and reduced care costs.

2. Start early with prevention

Traditionally, the burden of prevention has been placed on individuals, but without organized education, engagement, and support, preventive habits like good posture, proper ergonomics, and exercise are all too easy to ignore. Digital MSK solutions like Keet can help. Keet allows employers to push out information and reminders that can help hold MSK issues at bay or prevent them from developing in the first place. All the information is delivered through an easy-to-use mobile app that can reach employees in any location and on any schedule.

3. Make education your secret weapon

40% of a person’s health is determined by their behavior, while only 10% can be attributed to medical care. Use this to your advantage by educating and engaging your employees about behaviors that can benefit their total health. While researching and manually distributing health education can be difficult and time consuming, Keet helps automate the process. Our app pushes the right messages to the right employees at the right time in an engaging and accessible format that makes it fun and easy for employees to follow through.

4. Provide assessment and self-management options

One size does not fit all when it comes to MSK condition management. The right exercises at the right times can help employees address conditions on their own without ever needing to seek medical care. The trick is knowing when self-management is the right solution and what exercises to recommend as treatment for specific conditions. For those with mild or early-stage conditions, Keet offers APTA-approved assessments and customized self-management plans that help employees gain control and make progress on their own while reducing cost burdens.

5. When medical care is needed, think physical therapy-first

The traditional care pathway for MSK issues is a long and winding road through primary care, prescriptions, advanced imaging, specialists, and often surgery. Each step adds cost and time to an employees’ eventual recovery or condition management. Physical therapy is usually suggested late in the game to help patients recover from surgery, if at all. While common, this path is far from ideal in terms of time, expense, and eventual health outcomes for employees. In many cases, starting with physical therapy can shortcut the healing process, avoid invasive and painful surgical procedures, and get employees back to life and work more efficiently.

Benefits of a physical therapy-first approach:

Physical therapy helps patients manage pain and avoid surgery.

Exercise can reduce the risk of recurring low back pain up to 47%.6

Early physical therapy is associated with a reduced risk of opioid use.7

Starting with physical therapy rather than an MRI can reduce treatment costs by 72% without compromising clinical outcomes.8

Managing employee health with Keet.

Keet helps self-insured employers manage employee health by reducing the human and financial toll of MSK conditions. Keet educates and engages employees with a focus on prevention and ensures the appropriate level of care through APTA-approved assessments and a physical-therapy first approach.

To learn more about how your company can offer employees the right MSK care at the right time, reach out to Keet today to schedule a demo of our digital MSK solution.