Insurance claims analysis shows impact of pain management tool

Members of WEA Trust who used a digital platform for managing lower back pain cut use of emergency and urgent care by more than 90 percent.

That’s from a recent two-year insurance claims analysis from Madison-based WEA Trust and Kiio, another Madison company that developed the platform.

WEA Trust is a not-for-profit health insurance company serving public employees, with more than 100,000 members. Starting in January 2018, the company partnered with Kiio to introduce a white-label version of the Kiio platform to all of its members, regardless of medical history.

To measure the impact of the platform on users, WEA Trust compared claims data from 2017 to data from 2018, and found the results of the Kiio program “clearly demonstrate value.” Overall medical spend for the Kiio users decreased 64 percent, while emergency and urgent care visits went down by more than 90 percent.

At the same time, the number of injections for those users decreased by over 90 percent. Imaging also fell by 32 percent, while radio frequency ablation — a pain therapy that relies on electrical currents — fell by 67 percent.

Dr. Tim Bartholow, chief medical officer of WEA Trust, says the company is “committed to being good stewards” of member health.

“That means providing access to care that is high-quality, effective, convenient, and affordable,” Bartholow (pictured here) said in the report. “Above all, it means doing no harm. And the fact is that unnecessary MRIs, injections, and surgeries can do harm.”

On top of reducing the number of medical procedures and hospital visits, the Kiio platform also drove down the rates of prescription medication. Usage of opioids decreased 24 percent, while usage of benzodiazepines, a type of anxiety drug, fell by 66 percent.

And users seem to like the service, an internal survey shows. Ninety-two percent of users said the Kiio platform was easy to use, while 79 percent said they would recommend it to a friend.

To promote the program to more of its members, WEA Trust says it’s starting a new awareness campaign. And the company is exploring creating a plan that encourages the use of the Kiio platform, as well as potentially waiving some costs for members who use Kiio before certain “aggressive” treatments.

Dave Grandin, CEO and founder of Kiio, says the results from WEA Trust’s analysis are in-line with what other partners are saying about the platform.

“Musculoskeletal issues are a top priority for payers,” Grandin said. “Forward-thinking health plans and employers are actively seeking new care delivery models that combine consumer-centricity, scalability, and evidence-based medicine to deliver significant benefits to all stakeholders.”

See the case study here:

Listen to a recent podcast with Bartholow:

And listen to an earlier podcast with Grandin:


–By Alex Moe