The news: UnitedHealthcare (UHC) partnered with digital therapeutics startup Kaia Health to launch a new virtual physical therapy program for UHC’s self-funded employer health plans, according to a press release shared with Insider Intelligence.
Here’s how it works: Eligible members recovering from surgery or injury can receive a referral to virtual physical therapy through Kaia Health’s app.
This isn’t UnitedHealth Group (UHG) and Kaia Health’s first tie-up: UHG’s venture arm (Optum Ventures) is a long-time investor in Kaia Health.
Optum Ventures has invested in Kaia Health since its 2019 Series A funding round, according to Crunchbase.
And since its Series A round, Kaia Health has released multiple clinical studies to convince insurers that its tech can improve health outcomes. That’s likely what prompted UHC to offer Kaia’s program to its members this year.
The bigger picture: Virtual physical therapy entrants like Kaia Health and Hinge Health could help mitigate long-term insurer spending.
Musculoskeletal (MSK) pain makes up a sizable portion of healthcare spending claims paid for by employer health plans like UHC’s. MSK conditions represented 13% ($477 million) of UHC’s expenditures from 2018 to 2021 alone, according to a report by Health Action Council and UHC.
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