Kiio pain management tool linked to lower medical costs in pilot study

A management tool for lower back pain from Madison-based Kiio helped reduce both medical costs and emergency department visits, according to a recent pilot study.

Participants in the study also had fewer injections, MRIs and filled opioid prescriptions than those without the Kiio application.

The pilot was done with Quartz Health Solutions, a health plan provider with 350,000 members in Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota.

Using claims data, Quartz had found lower back pain was consistently linked to higher medical utilization and costs. Kiio’s product for lower back pain was customized for this Quartz study, and labelled as MobileBack.

Starting in February last year, certain Quartz members with a history of such pain were invited to participate in the pilot for free. Members selected for participation had multiple visits for lower back pain in the past three years, and hadn’t had any physical therapy within the past year.

Participants could access the digital MobileBack program — which has three levels of exercise specific to certain types of pain — as well as virtual coaching with access to health coaches employed by Quartz.

The pilot study was 37 months long, from Feb. 27, 2015 to April 1, 2018. In all, 515 members were eligible to participate in the program after an online screening process. They were split into two groups: the Kiio group, who engaged long enough to advance past the first level of the program; and the reference group, who didn’t engage long enough to go past level one, or didn’t engage with the program whatsoever.

Lower back pain-related medical spending decreased 55 percent in the Kiio group. Post-enrollment, there was no use of emergency departments or urgent care in the Kiio group, while the reference group saw ED/urgent care claims go up 81 percent.

The Kiio group was 3.5 times less likely to have an MRI, and 1.8 times less likely to have a spinal injection.

Also, the Kiio group filled 78 percent fewer opioid prescriptions post-enrollment, compared to 2 percent less for the reference group in the same period. Use of non-opioid prescriptions also went down 33 percent in the Kiio group, but increased 22 percent in the reference group.

Quartz says it’s planning a full rollout of MobileBack based on these positive results.

See the case study here:


–By Alex Moe