Virtual Primary Care for the Treatment of MSK Concerns

November 15, 2022

First Stop Health

Today, about 1 in 2 adults suffer from a musculoskeletal (MSK) condition in the U.S., accounting for 1/6 of healthcare spending for employers.1,2 MSK conditions afflict many Americans and are recognized as the second-leading driver for workplace absenteeism.3 

Virtual primary care services can help. With preventive and chronic care management, members can receive value-based care management for different MSK conditions. An established and trusted relationship with a virtual primary care doctor encourages members to prioritize and better manage their health. According to a Business Group on Health report, primary care can greatly improve the treatment of MSK concerns: 

“Employers can support value-based payment reform that emphasizes comprehensive, patient-centric primary care as the foundation for improved population health and can steer employees toward providers that practice such care via benefit design. Primary care providers can often reduce the use of unnecessary diagnostic imaging and expensive visits to specialists by directing patients to evidence-based treatments such as those they can perform at home (e.g., rest, ice, compression, elevation, or RICE), inexpensive over-the-counter medications, and/or recommended physical therapists who can both educate and treat.”4 

But with limited access to primary care physicians, a confusing and open-ended referral process and election of more expensive healthcare modalities, many employees aren’t getting the care they need and deserve. Here’s how virtual primary care is making a difference:  

Boosting Cost Savings 

On average, those with MSK conditions spend 60% more on healthcare costs.5  Virtual primary care is little-to-no cost for employees and boosts cost savings for employers by diverting costs for in-person visits. Plus, virtual primary care visits incur no medical claims, further saving costs for both employees and employers.  

Visits occur virtually and can support the at-home treatments mentioned above to save employees unnecessary costs from seeing in-person specialists. If needed, virtual primary care doctors can refer employees to in-network doctors to ensure the most cost-effective, quality treatment plans.  

Simplifying Healthcare Access 

As visits occur via app, website or by phone, employees can visit with their virtual primary care doctor where and when it is most convenient for them. Personal deterrents such as taking time off work, travel times or transportation worries, finding childcare and in-person wait times are all removed in the virtual-first care environment.  

According to research, “a considerable percentage of [emergency department (ED)] visits by patients for musculoskeletal problems are non-acute, low severity visits,” showing that “there is an inappropriate use of the ED related to patients with MSKD.”6 The misuse of EDs increases costs for employees and employers and provides an inconvenient healthcare experience. On average, patients wait 2+ hours to see a doctor in an ED environment.7 

The convenience of digital-first care allows employees to easily visit a doctor (at little-to-no cost to them) and there are no limits on the number of visits. Virtual primary care doctors can walk the patient through the appropriate at-home therapies. When medication is needed, virtual primary care doctors can order prescriptions and have them sent directly to the pharmacy of the patient’s choice for same-day pickup.  

First Stop Health (FSH) Virtual Primary Care 

Virtual Primary Care from First Stop Health (FSH) is a convenient means to access digital-first care. It is comprised of urgent, preventive and chronic care, and is available to members via app, website or phone. Urgent care is available 24/7 for non-emergency, episodic health issues. Preventive and chronic care visits are available when it’s best for the patient (usually within 4 days) and occur with primary doctors from the FSH virtual practice. Preventive care encompasses routine check-ups and lab or screening referrals to track overall health. Chronic care is the treatment and maintenance of ongoing health conditions such as MSK conditions, diabetes, high blood pressure or obesity. By integrating these 3 care areas, FSH helps members with virtual-first care for whole-person wellness from the comfort of wherever they are in life. Plus, there are no costs or predefined limits on the number of visits for members.     


Originally published Nov 15, 2022 6:15:00 AM.