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The quality of care offered at the right time when an MSK issue happens is key

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Interventional Orthopedic Insights


From the Desk of Regenexx CEO Jason Hellickson

Why Your Employee is a Costly Repeat Customer
in Your Health Plan

For most employers, it’s no secret that Musculoskeletal (MSK) disorders are one of the top work related illnesses affecting the productivity and presenteeism of their employees each year. These issues have consistently been among the most commonly reported work-related illnesses with an average of 9 work days spent in bed. One out of every 3 patients that are seeking out healthcare, are doing so due to a musculoskeletal condition. The number of visits to physicians for these disorders, the cost of treating them, and the indirect costs associated with pain and loss of productivity are largely an expense for the employer to bear. With such a prevalence of MSK disorders affecting the population, even a small change aimed at decreasing costs associated with these disorders can have a large impact for an employer.

The course of treating a musculoskeletal condition can be marked by periods of remission and exacerbation, and in many cases, patients may not experience complete resolution of their symptoms and disabilities. When a patient does not improve markedly under a treatment regimen, they continue to move through the care continuum and receive the next treatment modality under their insurance benefit. Many times, a patient exhausts all treatment modalities only to find themselves facing orthopedic surgery. Many of these orthopedic surgeries work no better than a placebo.

The length of time to exhaust one treatment modality can be months to years, during which the patient remains tethered to the healthcare system. Persistent pain without resolution eventually becomes an unresolved condition which can create a significant long-term disability. Unresolved musculoskeletal disorders can make other conditions even more difficult to live with, multiplying their impact. For example, back or knee pain may make it more difficult for people to get the daily physical activity that would help prevent the progression of other chronic conditions such as diabetes or heart disease. The expenses, like the conditions, can compound.

As Chad Gray, cofounder and CEO of Integrated Musculoskeletal Care, Inc (IMC), points out:
The underlying reason patients are not getting better is most likely due to patients not being precisely diagnosed at the onset of an issue. Currently, there is a wide variation in management of a diagnosis which can then result in highly variable outcomes. The correct diagnosis of an orthopedic condition is largely based on the capability of the provider. Typically, when an MSK issue begins, a patient first sees a primary care/general physician. This primary care physician has the pivotal role of being first in line to assess and diagnose an MSK condition as well as act as the gatekeeper to refer patients on for the appropriate treatment. However, primary care physicians are largely ill-equipped to properly diagnose the complexity of a musculoskeletal disorder. The management of many MSK conditions for a primary physician is centered around symptoms and function, movement and rehabilitation, rather than the medical model of diagnosis and medical treatment.

Without the correct diagnosis, the current health system structure is unable to manage or properly treat the current spectrum of needs. Without the correct diagnosis, employers are spending more on treating the symptoms of MSK issues and not treating the root cause of the issues.

Increase in Services to Treat MSK Symptoms

  • Planned orthopedic surgeries account for 47% of total orthopedic spend since 2010
  • 400% increase in imaging rates over the last 10 years
  • 300% increase in opioid addiction over the last 10 years

Sources: Healthleadersmedia, diagnosticimagingmusculoskeletal, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov,

The Solution to Correctly Treat Orthopedic Conditions

A standardized model of diagnosis and subsequent care is the best way to establish consistency in proper treatment of musculoskeletal conditions. Without this consistency, treatment that follows is highly variable, and therefore, the same condition will show a high variance in outcomes. For a nationwide employer, the care pathway for employees with the same condition could look very different, all depending on the diagnosis of the condition and recommended treatment pathway.

The Regenexx Standard of Care Model provides employers and employees with a universal high-level orthopedic diagnosis regardless of where a patient is assessed, diagnosed and treated. All Regenexx consultations involve a full functional analysis using the Interventional Orthopedics SANS approach. This process evaluates stability, articulation, neuromuscular function, and symmetry to understand not only what is wrong, but what is actually the root cause of pain. All Regenexx physicians are specially trained in this diagnostic approach.

This standardized process allows Regenexx physicians to assess and diagnose conditions in a uniformed approach, treat MSK conditions with proprietary protocols, and measure the outcomes with little variability. This precision in diagnosing orthopedic pain creates an efficient flow of orthopedic care aimed at getting patients out of the care continuum and back into a highly functioning lifestyle. This serves both the employer (payor) as well as the employee with a consistent low-cost, high-value option in care that should be a part of every innovative self-funded plan.

To learn more about how we work with brokers, TPAs and self-funded employers, or for more information on Regenexx procedures, call 877-341-5968 or visit Regenexxcorporate.com.

Live Informed,

Jason Hellickson
Chief Executive Officer, Regenexx

Your Trusted Resource to Reduce Orthopedic Costs