Employer-sponsored primary care that integrates physical medicine into the delivery model improves quality of care, reduces costs, and decreases opioid use, suggests a new study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
Currently, less than half of employer-sponsored primary care clinics provide integrated physical therapy services. The study illustrated why employers are increasingly moving toward healthcare solutions based on prevention and integrated care.

In the study, co-authors Daniel J. Lord, DC — physical medicine senior program manager at Crossover Health — and Dena Bravata, MD, MS — senior affiliate of the Center for Primary Care and Outcomes Research at Stanford University — compared healthcare claims and clinical outcomes data of Crossover Health patients with musculoskeletal complaints to a large national database of outpatient physical medicine outcomes, provided by Focus On Therapeutic Outcomes Inc.

According to the study, risk-adjusted patients who received integrated physical medicine treatment provided by Crossover Health received faster treatment, achieved better outcomes, and relied far less on opioids — all at a lower cost than care provided by traditional healthcare organizations, a media release from Crossover Health Inc explains.

Specifically, patient episodes required on average eight fewer provider visits and 52% fewer imaging services than patients receiving care in the community. This resulted in an overall cost savings of up to $630 for employers per patient episode — an average 67% reduction.

In addition, patients treated by Crossover Health with integrated services such as physical therapy, chiropractic, behavioral health and acupuncture for pain management, used significantly lower levels of opioids. Opioid use for all non-cancer patients in the study treated by Crossover was one-tenth the rate of typical prescription rates for the same treatments in the community.

“Employers are actively looking for innovative healthcare solutions to care for employees with musculoskeletal complaints, which represents the second largest cause of short-term or temporary work disability. This study demonstrates that employer-sponsored physical medicine deeply integrated with primary care can be a solution to this critical problem,” Bravata says, in the release.

“We believe that by directly managing comprehensive, preventative, and value-based care themselves, employers really solve the problem of skyrocketing health costs, while simultaneously taking excellent care of their employees,” Lord states.

“Ultimately, we see this integrated care model becoming the standard for employer sponsored musculoskeletal care across the country,”  he adds.

[Source(s): Crossover Health Inc, PR Newswire]