New Study – WEA Trust Reduces Spend by 56% and Opioid Use by 87% with Kiio Digital Musculoskeletal Care

New claims-based study with WEA Trust demonstrates that Kiio’s on-demand, digital musculoskeletal (MSK) platform significantly cuts wasteful medical spend, unnecessary diagnostics and treatment, and utilization of pain management medications.

Madison, WI, June 24, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Today, WEA Trust and Kiio released the results of an updated and expanded claims data analysis evaluating the impact of Kiio’s digital musculoskeletal (MSK) therapeutic on medical utilization and cost of care for low back pain. Overall, Kiio participants had a 56% lower combined medical and pharmacy spend as compared to the traditional care group. This is the fourth claims study proving Kiio’s ability to reduce medical and pharmaceutical claims related to chronic MSK pain.

The large, longitudinal study compared a year’s worth of claims from Kiio participants (N=656) to a control group receiving traditional MSK care for low back pain (N=27,465). The study results demonstrated statistically significant lower utilization and spend in the Kiio group, including lower use of urgent care services, diagnostics, and procedures:

  • 90% lower use of urgent care and emergency
  • 67% lower use of radiology (X-ray, ultrasound, nuclear medicine)
  • 58% lower use of advanced imaging (MRI, CT)
  • 52% fewer surgeries, spinal injections, and radio frequency ablation procedures

Similarly, the claims study found significantly lower utilization of pain medications (as measured by days’ supply) in Kiio participants, including opioids:

  • 87% lower use of opiate agonists
  • 70% lower use benzodiazepines
  • 70% lower use of analgesics & antipyretics
  • 49% lower use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents

Given the clearly established link between chronic pain and mental health, the study also evaluated pharmaceutical utilization of antidepressants. Kiio members had 47% lower antidepressant use than WEA Trust members with a low back pain diagnosis who did not participate in Kiio. “With COVID compounding mental health challenges and causing members to delay appointments, the impact of Kiio’s effective pain management on not only physical but also mental well-being is critical,” said Tim Bartholow, MD, WEA Trust Vice President and Chief Medical Officer.  

Bartholow continued, “WEA Trust believes in taking a leadership role to high-value, innovative care delivery models like Kiio that provide members with immediate access, convenience, and supported control over their health outcomes. With Kiio, we’ve been able to help members reduce pain and improve quality of life while lowering costs for both our members and our employer groups.”

Kiio participants who ranged from age 19 to age 93 saw an average 48% reduction in pain. Mary Hughes, Vice President of Medical Affairs, shared, “Our main objective is always to improve member health and experience. This is exactly what we are seeing with Kiio, while also dramatically lowering medical costs.”

Kiio has a proven track record of delivering both short- and long-term value to its members and its health plan and employer clients. More than 60% of members have less pain within one week of using Kiio, and 92% say they would recommend Kiio to a friend.

WEA Trust began offering Kiio’s low back pain program in 2018, and now provides Kiio’s full MSK platform to all of its members to help them manage and prevent back, knee, neck, and hip pain. “Kiio’s easily accessible solution is customized to each member’s individual needs,” states Lisa Harlow, MS, CES, Director of Member Health Services at WEA Trust. “Kiio is a high-impact, low-cost population health strategy that empowers members to take control of their condition; avoid unnecessary, aggressive treatments; and use less pain medication.”

Harlow added her perspective on Kiio’s success with WEA Trust members. “Our members like the flexibility and that they’re in the driver’s seat. They can use Kiio and get support whenever and wherever it’s best for them. Our team likes Kiio’s evidence-based approach and how Kiio integrates clinical practice guidelines with technology to tailor therapeutic exercise, monitor improvement, provide coaching, and report on progress.”

“WEA Trust’s results with Kiio are consistent with what we see across our book of business with our partners,” remarked Lydia Zeller, Kiio CEO. “Health plans and employers are at a critical point. Musculoskeletal issues are already in the top three medical cost drivers. Their incidence has increased during COVID with poor ergonomics, stress, and decreased mobility. And 40% of Americans are still putting off medical care. The simple math: plans and employers are about to get deluged with MSK claims. Forward-thinking health plans and employers are actively adding a proven digital solution that provides members immediate access to easy, effective, consumer-centric care. That’s a win-win-win.”

Read the full study here.

About WEA Trust

The WEA Trust provides group health insurance and administrative services to public employers throughout Wisconsin. The not-for-profit WEA Trust was created in 1970 to serve Wisconsin school district employees. Today, the WEA Trust offers its top-rated service and quality benefits to all state, county, and municipal groups. Learn more at

About Kiio

Kiio is changing the way health plans, employers, and members manage musculoskeletal (MSK) pain. With Kiio, members can immediately take control of their pain and improve the function of their back, knees, neck, and hips. No waiting on shipped sensors or scheduling triage calls. Everything that members need is available 24/7 via the mobile app. Members receive personalized, progressive exercise therapy, education, and digital support with access to 1:1 coaching. Convenient, easy-to-use, inclusive, and scalable, Kiio’s evidence-based solution is proven to drive better outcomes at lower costs. Claims-based studies show that Kiio significantly reduces pain, opioid use, and medical spend while improving function, productivity, and quality of life. Learn more at



The WEA Trust claims analysis found significant total pharmacy savings for Kiio participants including 87% lower use of opioids and 70% lower use of benzodiazepines. Kiio's simple, easy, and effective digital MSK therapy integrates clinical practice guidelines and advanced software to deliver on-demand, personalized therapeutic exercise and interactive virtual coaching using only a member’s smartphone or tablet – no waiting equipment, scheduling a consult, or learning how to use sensors or motion tracking.