How Health Plans Can Use Analytics to Address the Pain Points of Musculoskeletal Conditions

July 6, 2023

According to a 2022 Report, more than 50% of Americans suffer from an MSK condition. This accounts for over $600B in claims expenditures each year, which is more expensive than the cost of care for Heart Disease and Cancer combined - making it the country's leading healthcare expenditure. As these conditions continue to grow in prominence, Health Plans increasingly prioritize delivering effective care to improve outcomes while reducing costs of care. As we explore the pain points associated with MSK conditions, such as prevalence, cost implications, chronic nature, diagnostic complexity, and treatment variation, we will look at analytics strategies that organizations employ to remediate these pain points and optimize care outcomes to improve ROI in value-based care.

Prevalence and Cost Implications

MSK conditions are highly prevalent and affect individuals of all ages, resulting in a substantial burden on healthcare utilization and costs. As mentioned, more than 50% suffer from disorders in America, with MSK claims having doubled over the last decade. The scale of MSK care utilization places a massive strain on health plans, as they must allocate resources to address these needs effectively. Adding another layer of complexity to this, the management of MSK conditions often involves multiple providers, diagnostic tests, medications, physical therapy, and surgeries, further increasing expenses.

Chronic Nature of MSK Conditions

Most MSK conditions are chronic, requiring long-term management to drive the best possible outcomes. As a result, they necessitate continuous treatment, monitoring, and potentially rehabilitation, contributing to prolonged utilization of healthcare services and increased costs for health plans and risk-bearing providers. The challenge lies in balancing utilization with providing consistent and comprehensive care to individuals with chronic MSK conditions, ensuring they receive the support they need throughout their treatment journey, and avoiding higher expense methods such as non-cost-reducing surgery.

Discover how analytics can improve care coordination, optimize resource utilization, and predict patient outcomes.

Diagnostic Complexity and Treatment Variation

Diagnosing MSK conditions can be complex and may involve a combination of clinical assessment, imaging, and specialized tests. The intricate nature of these conditions often leads to challenges in accurately diagnosing them. Misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, or unnecessary procedures are common issues, which lead to additional costs and suboptimal outcomes. Ensuring accurate and timely diagnoses is crucial for proactive care, which is critical in preventing exacerbation.

While effective diagnosis can be a significant struggle for healthcare organizations, the variation in treatment and interventions is a significant factor in measuring efficacy and improving outcomes. Different providers may have distinct preferences, resulting in inconsistencies in care delivery and potentially impacting the quality of care. Health plans need to address treatment variation through evidence-based guidelines, care coordination, and provider education to optimize outcomes and manage costs effectively while also bolstering their HEDIS and STARs measurements.

Strategies to Remediate MSK Pain Points

Managing MSK conditions can be challenging and costly for health plans, which is why it’s important to have effective strategies that are proven to optimize performance. These include:

- Care Coordination: Implementing care coordination initiatives can enhance communication and collaboration among providers involved in MSK care, ensuring seamless transitions and reducing fragmented care delivery. By coordinating efforts, health plans and risk-bearing providers can create a unified approach to MSK treatment, improving patient experiences and outcomes.

- Embracing Value-Based Care: Shifting towards value-based care, such as ACO REACH  or MSSP, incentivizes quality care delivery, cost containment, and improved patient outcomes. By aligning financial incentives with positive patient outcomes, health plans and risk-bearing providers can work together to drive more efficient and effective care.

- Data Analytics: Utilizing advanced data analytics can help identify patterns, trends, and opportunities for improvement in MSK care. By harnessing the power of data, health plans and risk-bearing providers can gain insights into MSK conditions, treatment effectiveness, and resource allocation. This enables informed decision-making, proactive interventions, and resource optimization to enhance care quality and reduce costs.

- Member Education and Engagement: Educating members about their conditions, treatment options, and self-management techniques fosters active member engagement and improves compliance with treatment plans. Empowering members with knowledge and involving them in their care decisions can lead to better outcomes, reduced healthcare utilization, and improved satisfaction.

- Provider Education and Standardized Guidelines: Offering educational programs to providers and promoting the adoption of standardized guidelines for MSK care can reduce treatment variation, enhance clinical decision-making, and improve the overall quality of care. By equipping providers with the latest evidence-based practices, health plans, and risk-bearing providers can ensure consistent, high-quality care for individuals with MSK conditions.


Addressing the pain points associated with MSK conditions is essential for health plans and risk-bearing providers to optimize care quality and cost-effectiveness. At Diagnostic Robotics, we understand the critical role that data analysis plays in empowering organizations to navigate the challenges posed by MSK conditions. By working together and embracing innovative approaches, health plans and risk-bearing providers can drive positive change and enhance the delivery of MSK care.

Embrace the power of data analysis, harness the potential of value-based care, and join the ranks of successful providers who are revolutionizing healthcare. Together, let's shape a future where exceptional care and optimal outcomes are the norm. Visit our AI-powered Population Health solution page to learn more about how Diagnostic Robotics can help you navigate the transformative journey of value-based care.

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