Posted on 28 Jun 2011
To prepare for my interview with Bill Goff and Tania Comte Keller, co-founders of Physical Health Insights, I decided to take their program’s health assessment to see how it works. Physical Health Insights is a web-based tool that assesses the musculoskeletal system (muscles, joints, bones, tendons) to detect and identify the risk for current or future injury for all areas of the body.
As a writer, I’m on the computer 8 to 10 hours every day, so I thought this would be a perfect way to not only see where I may be having issues but to also learn what to do to prevent potential problems. I went through a series of questions including providing background information, my activities, and repetitive motions that I do, to see where I may feel any pain or discomfort. I also performed some simple range of motion movements to also locate areas of pain and discomfort. The entire process took about 15 minutes and the test was anonymous.
Once I was done, I immediately received a detailed report on the factors affecting my body, both positive and negative. A risk-for-injury index was created for each area of the body selected with information to help reduce factors that have a negative impact on my health. I also received guidelines that were tailored to my results for stretching, flexibility, strengthening, and exercises.
The results were spot on, and over the last couple of months I’ve been following the guidelines presented to help me prevent the possibility of injury or pain, and feel better for doing so.
When I spoke with Bill and Tania, I wanted to find out the genesis of the Physical Health Insights program, and how it’s being used. It seems like an ideal tool for the insurance industry: for agencies and brokers to offer as an added-value Wellness Program for large commercial and industrial clients to help in the effort of reducing both healthcare and workers compensation costs; and for workers compensation carriers to develop a product that integrates the Physical Health Insights program.
Annie George (AG): Bill, Tania, how did Physical Health Insights come about?
Bill Goff (BG): “In early 2009, we got together with Dr. Mark Melhorn. Twenty years ago he conducted research to better understand the cause of workplace pain and to identify key factors in musculoskeletal health that would cause an individual to have an injury. He also offered occupational intervention programs in the workplace based on his findings. The program was called CtdMAP and was used to match a person’s musculoskeletal ability against the job for which he/she was looking to be hired. CtdMAP tested areas that indicate whether you would have issues for a specific job, and provided an employer with information to help in the overall assessment of whether this person fit the position. More than 100,000 assessments have been conducted.
“As time went on, upgrades and improvements were made to the program, including going from a paper system to a web-based risk evaluation. Companies began to use the program for more than just new hires but also for employees looking to change jobs. And because the program helped to reduce injuries that resulted in fewer workers comp claims, more and more companies began to see the value of the tool as a wellness program.”
AG: Had the medical community reviewed this tool?
BG: “Yes. It’s been peer reviewed by fellow doctors and accepted as a viable tool in assessing the musculoskeletal system. Dr. Melhorn comes with strong credentials as an Orthopedic Physician and Surgeon and Clinical Assistant Professor in Orthopedics at the University of Kansas. He’s written more than 270 articles and publications about his research on prevention of musculoskeletal pain in the workplace. He’s the co-author of two AMA publications: “A Physician’s Guide to Return to Work” and “Guides to the Evaluation of Disease and Injury Causation”.
AG: How has the system evolved since you became involved?
Tania Comte Keller (TCK): “When we formed Physical Health Insights, our focus was on wellness and prevention. We wanted to have a system for the preventative use and mitigation of musculoskeletal injuries. The medical pinning existed from the original research and the development of the CtdMAP system. We wanted to enhance and develop the program’s user interface further and add questions related to the individual’s activities, including range of motion movements to pinpoint if individuals experienced any pain when doing certain movements, as this can often portend what may happen down the road. Many people can take the assessment and only have slight discomfort, but then they try to do some of the movements and realize that it’s more than just discomfort – it’s real pain.”
BG: “It was also very important that what we created was easy enough to serve a self-administered test as well as be cost-effective so that it was accessible to a large group of individuals. Other than our program, there is no equivalent musculoskeletal risk metric to help assess if you have an issue that needs to be addressed. The way it usually works now is that you go to a doctor once you’re already hurt. And if you’re hurt, you’re often prescribed pain medication, which either works or masks a problem that will eventually worsen. With Physical Health Insights, we’re helping to prevent the problem in the first place, and if we can’t prevent it we want to mitigate it.”
Once you take the assessment, the system produces personalized dynamic text telling the user what the doctor feels might be his/her problem. It’s not a diagnosis, but a risk assessment. You receive recommendations on what you can do about the problem and the types of activities that would be helpful as well as harmful. A conservative exercise program based on the risk shown for each of the ten body regions will be presented. Risk level, age, and exercise experience are taken into consideration when providing this personalized report. Additionally, nutritional information is provided for those who are overweight with links to government-sponsored programs, menus, and information that will complement an exercise program.
“This is where preventive medicine and self-care are heading,” says Bill. “We’re in an area that’s evolving and changing medical practices to take some proactive steps to prevent and mitigate risk, to stop injuries from occurring in the first place. The utilization of the internet to educate individuals to identify problems earlier will have positive benefits for the person, the healthcare providers, doctors, and employers who all have a role in supporting and encouraging preventive programs.”
AG: Is the assessment effective for everyone, no matter what industry you’re in?
TCK: “About $2.4 trillion is spent on healthcare in the United States, with roughly $800 billion related to musculoskeletal disorders in terms of doctor visits, lost time, etc. That’s nearly 1/3 of the cost being spent in this area, so when you look at a company’s costs, generally this also represents about 1/3 of its total healthcare expenses. Whether you’re in the construction industry or in the service sector, these types of problems are prevalent. About 50% of the population over age 35 experience musculoskeletal issues, with the problem getting worse.”
BG: “To pick up with what Tania is saying, an increasing number of people are experiencing problems because of two reasons: weight and a sedentary nature. Weight has a lot to do with your fitness and your fitness has a lot to do with whether you can do physical work without injuring yourself. Weight puts added pressure on your joints. For example, for every additional pound you weigh, you’re putting three pounds of pressure on your knees. On your hips, it’s even worse -- almost 6 to 1.”
AG: What are the principal benefits of the Physical Health Insights assessment?
BG: “With this program, we’re trying to decrease healthcare costs by educating people as to where they’re really at and what they can do to help themselves before they get to the stage where they need medical attention. As you soon as you begin to hurt, you already have the start of an injury, it’s just a question of what level it is at.
“We also want to help the doctors. By taking this assessment, you can provide your doctor with reports that reflect the risk metrics for specific issues in the body region where you’re experiencing pain, which will help them treat you.
“In terms of the insurance industry, there are real opportunities with what can be done with the program. For one, carriers understand the problem of musculoskeletal problems and the effect in the workplace better than anyone and this can serve as a wellness program for their own staffs.
“Agents can offer this to their commercial clients as a loss prevention tool as part of an organization’s workers compensation risk management. It will help provide companies with an innovative program at a low per-employee cost that can make significant inroads in promoting wellness and reducing direct medical costs and indirect costs.
“Additionally, in the future, for those carriers looking to establish this program as a turnkey component of their workers comp product, they can create a policy that offers a discount for organizations whose employees have taken the assessment. Individuals would not be identified, but the aggregated data would be produced for the carriers creating a risk profile of the employees in the organization. Part of the discount would be based on what types of programs are put in place to reduce the risks indicated by the assessments.
“Eventually, with sufficient amount of data, you’ll not only know the primary factors related to the cause of the musculoskeletal disorders but also understand the timeline between reporting something at a certain level and the time it becomes an issue. Anonymous aggregated employee risk profile benchmark reports would be created to measure ROI and identify further risk-reduction actions.”
Providing employees with specific information about the risk factors present for each area of the body and a way to mitigate those factors through custom programs that include activities and exercises is cost effective both for individuals and employers. “This approach enables everyone to make informed proactive healthcare decisions to prevent the conditions that result in injuries. You get healthier employees with a higher level of productivity. “You stop the pain before the pain stops you,” said Tania.
You can take the assessment to see how it works yourself. Just call Bill or Tania at 727-786-6454, or contact them at: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Bill Goff
Bill is an accomplished entrepreneur with more than 30 years of experience as a founder in four technology-based start-ups including a successful IPO of ISI Systems. As EVP of AMS Services he led the acquisition of the Allenbrook policy processing systems and later as a senior CNA executive had the responsibility for the successful sale of AMS Services to Marsh Risk Capital.
About Tania Comte Keller
Tania is a successful, multi-lingual, international entrepreneur with more than 20 years of experience as a founder of marketing and sales companies in France, Germany, and the United States. Her clients have included Porsche, the Ritz Carlton and Boston Bay Capital, Inc. Tania’s innovative promotions of French products in the U.S. market led to appearances on both TV, including Good Morning America and multiple Radio shows with resulting revenue increases for her clients that exceeded 200%.