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  • Lloyd Price

Digital MSK is starting to fulfil its potential in 2024, IPO's likely in 2025



Exec Summary:


The digital MSK (musculoskeletal) market is on the rise in 2024. MSK digital health solutions have raised $223M so far this year, already nearly double that of 2023’s $125M.


Since 2010, more than $38 Billion has been invested in companies offering MSK solutions, including mergers and acquisitions.


'For people with a range of musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions, many virtual solutions deliver clinically meaningful improvements in pain and function, according to a new independent evaluation from the Peterson Health Technology Institute (PHTI).


Based on a rigorous, independent review of scientific literature, the evidence indicates that many of these solutions offer clinical benefits to patients that are comparable to in-person physical therapy (PT). These solutions also have the potential to improve access to therapy, reduce healthcare spending, and offer greater convenience compared to in-person PT.'



Here's what we can glean from recent news and developments mid 2024:


  • Market Growth: The market is expected to see a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27.4% from 2021 to 2028, driven by factors like increased adoption of digital health solutions and a need for more accessible MSK care.


  • IPO Potential: Companies in this space are likely targeting IPOs in 2025. This is based on a few reasons:

  • Recent Funding Rounds: Companies like Sword Health just secured a large funding round in 2024, potentially indicating they are well-capitalised for the near future and might focus on internal growth before an IPO.

  • Market Conditions: The digital health IPO market has been a bit stagnant recently. While 2021 saw a boom, some companies are waiting for a more stable market before going public.


Potential Digital MSK IPO's in 2025


An example of a successful digital MSK IPO is Physitrack, which went public in 2021. It's likely that other companies will follow suit in the coming years. Overall, digital MSK is a promising area in healthcare technology, and 2025 could be a big year for IPOs in this space.


So who could go public in the next 18 months?


Hinge Health: Hinge Health is a digital health company that provides virtual physical therapy and pain management services. The company uses sensors and artificial intelligence to track patients' movements and provide real-time feedback.


Sword Health: Sword Health is a digital health company that provides patients with access to physical therapy, pain management, and other services through a mobile app. The company uses sensors and artificial intelligence to track patients' movements and provide real-time feedback.



What is Digital MSK?


Digital MSK, or digital musculoskeletal (MSK) care, refers to the use of technology and digital tools to improve the diagnosis, treatment, and management of conditions affecting the musculoskeletal system, which includes bones, joints, muscles, and other connective tissues.


Digital MSK solutions can include telemedicine consultations, remote monitoring of patient symptoms and progress, digital platforms for self-assessment and self-management, and virtual physical therapy and rehabilitation programs. These solutions aim to make MSK care more convenient, accessible, and cost-effective for patients, while also improving outcomes and reducing the need for in-person visits.


Digital MSK has become increasingly popular in recent years, particularly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to a rise in remote healthcare services. The use of digital tools for MSK care is particularly relevant given the high prevalence of MSK conditions, which affect millions of people around the world and can have a significant impact on quality of life and healthcare costs.


Digital MSK is commonly referred to as digital physical therapy, so what is DPT?


Digital physical therapy refers to the use of technology and digital tools to provide physical therapy services remotely, without requiring in-person visits to a physical therapy clinic or office. Digital physical therapy solutions can include telehealth consultations, remote monitoring of patient symptoms and progress, and digital platforms for self-assessment and self-management.


Digital physical therapy solutions may use a variety of technologies, such as video conferencing, mobile apps, wearable devices, and virtual reality. These tools enable physical therapists to provide personalized treatment plans and exercises, monitor patient progress, and offer support and guidance to patients remotely.


Digital physical therapy has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its convenience, accessibility, and cost-effectiveness. It also allows physical therapists to reach a broader patient population and provide more frequent and consistent care. However, it's important to note that digital physical therapy may not be appropriate for all patients or conditions, and in-person physical therapy may still be necessary for some patients.


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What is driving the Digital MSK market?


The digital MSK market worldwide is growing rapidly, driven by factors such as the high prevalence of MSK conditions, the increasing adoption of digital health solutions, and the need for more accessible and cost-effective MSK care. According to a report by Grand View Research, the global digital MSK market size was valued at USD 2.98 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27.4% from 2021 to 2028.


The market is expected to be driven by a range of digital MSK solutions, including telemedicine, remote monitoring, digital platforms for self-management, and virtual rehabilitation programs. These solutions are being adopted by healthcare providers, employers, and insurers to provide more convenient, efficient, and accessible MSK care to patients.


North America is currently the largest market for digital MSK solutions, with a high prevalence of MSK conditions and a strong healthcare IT infrastructure. However, the market is also expected to grow rapidly in other regions, such as Europe and Asia-Pacific, as digital health solutions become more widely adopted.


How much investment has gone into digital MSK?


Investment in digital MSK has grown significantly in recent years, reflecting the increasing demand for digital health solutions to address the growing prevalence of MSK conditions. According to a report by CB Insights, funding for digital MSK companies reached a record high of $1.6 billion in 2020, more than double the funding in 2019.


Some of the largest funding rounds and strategic partnerships in digital MSK in recent years include:



  • FIGUR8, the leading innovator in the measure of musculoskeletal (MSK) health, has successfully closed a $25 million Series A-1 funding. The round was led by First Spark Ventures (FSV) with participation from DigiTx Partners and Phoenix Venture Partners



  • Teladoc Health announced new strategic partnerships with musculoskeletal (MSK) care providers Sword Health & Hinge Health to offer employers access to a full suite of digital physical therapy solutions for joint and muscle pain relief. 


  • MSK conditions are a top cost driver for 76% of employers in the U.S. (second only to cancer), costing an estimated $213B in annual treatment, care and lost wages. The move helps Teladoc Health clients offer a broader range of virtual care services to their employees through simplified contracting and management.





What are the signs of Digital MSK's massive growth potential?


A) Physitrack IPO


European digital physical therapy and patient engagement company Physitrack went public on the Nasdaq First North Premier Growth Market in June 2021 with an original offering of SEK 40 ($4.69) per share.

The company's IPO included just under 4.4 million newly issued shares worth approximately SEK 175 ($20 million). Founded in 2012, Physitrack works primarily with the employer market to offer digital physical therapy, telehealth and patient engagement tools.


"The IPO of Physitrack is the next step in our growth journey to continue bringing our solution to even more healthcare providers and patients around the world," wrote Physitrack CEO and cofounder Henrik Molin in an email to MobiHealthNews.


"The strong interest in the IPO is proof of the support we see among investors. We are pleased to have attracted strong institutional names among our new shareholders, as well as a diverse base of investors among the general public in Sweden and Finland."




B) Omada Health acquires Physera


Physera was founded in 2015 and is headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska. The company's platform enables patients to access physical therapy from the comfort of their own homes, using a combination of wearable devices, telehealth consultations, and a mobile app.


Physera has received several rounds of funding, including a $6 million Series A funding round in 2018 and a $15 million Series B funding round in 2020. In 2021, the company was acquired by Omada Health, a digital health company that offers a range of chronic disease management solutions, including diabetes prevention and management, hypertension management, and behavioral health.


The acquisition of Physera by Omada Health is expected to expand Omada's offering to include virtual physical therapy, which can be integrated with its existing platform to provide a more comprehensive care experience for patients with musculoskeletal conditions. The acquisition also reflects the growing interest in digital health solutions for musculoskeletal care, as patients and healthcare providers seek more accessible, convenient, and cost-effective ways to manage these conditions.


C) Digital Tools to release clinical pressure


The digital MSK market is growing rapidly in Europe, driven by factors such as the increasing prevalence of musculoskeletal conditions, the need for more accessible and cost-effective care solutions, and the adoption of digital health technologies by healthcare providers.


According to a report by McKinsey & Company, the European digital health market is expected to grow to €45 billion by 2025, with musculoskeletal conditions accounting for a significant share of this growth. The report also notes that virtual care solutions, including virtual physical therapy and remote monitoring, have the potential to reduce costs, improve patient outcomes, and increase access to care.


D) Clinical benefits now supported with outcomes and evidence 


Digital MSK (Musculoskeletal) solutions offer several clinical benefits for patients and healthcare providers, including:


Improved patient outcomes: Digital MSK solutions provide patients with access to personalized care plans, remote monitoring, and self-management tools that can help improve clinical outcomes, reduce pain and disability, and enhance overall quality of life.


More efficient care delivery: Digital MSK solutions can help healthcare providers deliver care more efficiently, by reducing the need for in-person visits, streamlining communication between providers and patients, and automating administrative tasks.


Better patient engagement: Digital MSK solutions can help patients stay engaged and motivated in their care by providing real-time feedback, personalised exercise plans, and social support through online communities.


Increased access to care: Digital MSK solutions can help improve access to care for patients who may face geographic or financial barriers to traditional in-person care, particularly in rural or underserved areas.


Enhanced data collection and analysis: Digital MSK solutions can collect and analyse large amounts of data on patient outcomes, treatment efficacy, and population health trends, enabling healthcare providers to make data-driven decisions and improve care delivery.


Overall, digital MSK solutions offer a promising approach to improving musculoskeletal care, particularly for patients with chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis, back pain, and rheumatoid arthritis. By leveraging the latest technology, digital MSK solutions can help healthcare providers deliver more personalized, efficient, and effective care to patients, while reducing costs and improving outcomes.


E) Cost savings for providers and payers


Digital MSK (Musculoskeletal) solutions have the potential to generate significant cost savings for patients, healthcare providers, and payers. Some of the key ways in which digital MSK solutions can reduce costs include:


Reduced healthcare utilisation: Digital MSK solutions can help reduce healthcare utilisation by providing patients with access to self-management tools, remote monitoring, and virtual consultations, which can reduce the need for in-person visits and hospitalisations.


Lower medication costs: Digital MSK solutions can help reduce medication costs by providing patients with personalised exercise plans, self-management tools, and coaching, which can help reduce reliance on medications.


Reduced absenteeism and presenteeism: Musculoskeletal conditions are a leading cause of absenteeism and presenteeism in the workplace. Digital MSK solutions can help reduce these costs by providing employees with access to virtual physical therapy, self-management tools, and ergonomic assessments, which can help prevent and manage MSK-related pain and disability.


Improved clinical outcomes: Digital MSK solutions can help improve clinical outcomes and reduce the need for costly medical interventions such as surgery or long-term medication use.


More efficient care delivery: Digital MSK solutions can help healthcare providers deliver care more efficiently, reducing the need for administrative tasks and streamlining communication with patients.

Overall, the cost savings generated by digital MSK solutions can be significant, particularly for patients with chronic MSK conditions who require ongoing care and management. By providing more accessible, convenient, and cost-effective care, digital MSK solutions can help reduce the economic burden of MSK conditions for patients, healthcare providers, and payers.


Four companies leading the Digital MSK revolution 


1. Hinge Health 


Hinge Health is building the world’s most patient-centered Digital Musculoskeletal (MSK) Clinic™. It is now the leading Digital MSK Clinic, used by four in five employers and 90% of health plans with a digital MSK solution. Hinge Health reduces MSK pain, surgeries, and opioid use by pairing advanced wearable sensors and computer vision technology with a comprehensive clinical care team of physical therapists, physicians, and board-certified health coaches. 


Hinge Health’s HingeConnect integrates with 1 million + in-person providers and enables real-time interventions for elective MSK surgeries, driving proven medical claims reduction. Available to millions of members, Hinge Health is widely trusted by leading organizations, including Land O’Lakes, L.L. Bean, Salesforce, Self-Insured Schools of California, Southern Company, State of New Jersey, US Foods, and Verizon. 




2. Kaia Health


Kaia Health is the world’s largest digital therapeutics company on a mission to empower millions of people to live their healthiest lives. Our evidence-based treatments, covering a range of conditions, including musculoskeletal pain and COPD, are powered by proprietary motion analysis technology and clinical expertise. 


No sensors or wearables are required, Kaia’s programs need only a smartphone to deliver the most accessible, effective, and equitable experience for all. Eleven clinical trials have shown Kaia’s effectiveness and safety to be as good as traditional care with up to 80% reduction in cost. 

Kaia Health is a member of the Digital Therapeutics Alliance (DTA) and is headquartered in NY and Munich. Kaia partners with leading health plans, employers, and providers, covering 60+ million lives around the world. 




3. getUbetter


getUbetter is the UK's market leading 'Digital MSK Self Care Platform' and 'NHSx MSK Digital Playbook' Case Study partnering with 17 Integrated Care Systems across England totalling over 40% market share. getUbetter provides 24/7 self-management support, so people trust their recovery and are only re-directed to healthcare services when necessary.


getUbetter won the highly prestigious "HealthTech Partnership of the Yar Award at the HSJ Partnership Awards 2023" for their work with South West London ICS.


We are providing NHS organisations and clinicians with new ways to support people with common MSK conditions via end to end digital injury support and condition management.


Our cost efficient, evidence-based technology is simple to integrate across the whole care system. It is a new way to provide recovery, prevention and support to every person that needs it. Helping them before, during and after any contact with their local service.


MSK pathways have had to adapt rapidly due to Covid-19 and we have been able to support our NHS partners to provide a digitally enabled MSK pathways, support self-management whilst safety netting alongside the ability to change these pathways rapidly to meet changing demands and services.




4. Sword Health


Sword Health is on a mission to free two billion people from pain as the first and only end-to-end platform to prevent, manage, and treat pain while saving clients millions in healthcare costs. 


Sword combines proprietary artificial intelligence with rigorous clinical expertise to achieve a 60% reduction in surgery intent and an engagement rate of 3x traditional physical therapy. Today, Sword is the leading patent-holder in digital solutions addressing physical pain and serves more than 1,300 employers and health plans across three continents, including many Fortune 500 companies. 


With more than $300 million raised from top venture firms like Bond, Founders Fund, General Catalyst, Khosla Ventures, and Sapphire Ventures, and a $2 billion valuation, Sword was recently recognized as a Forbes Best Startup Employer, and has become the fastest-growing company in the category since its founding in 2015. Sword Health has offices in New York City, Chicago, Atlanta, Salt Lake City, Sydney and Porto.




Factors driving the adoption of MSK solutions:


There are several factors driving the adoption of digital MSK solutions:


Increased prevalence of MSK conditions: MSK conditions, such as arthritis, back pain, and osteoporosis, are very common and affect millions of people worldwide. The growing prevalence of these conditions is increasing demand for MSK care, and digital solutions are seen as a way to expand access to care and improve outcomes.


Need for more accessible and convenient care: Many patients face barriers to accessing traditional in-person MSK care, such as long wait times, transportation issues, and high costs. Digital MSK solutions, such as telemedicine and remote monitoring, offer more convenient and accessible options for patients to receive care.


Advances in technology: The development of new technologies, such as wearable devices, telemedicine platforms, and mobile apps, has made it easier to deliver MSK care remotely and monitor patient progress more effectively.


Changing healthcare landscape: There is a growing focus on value-based care and improving patient outcomes, which has led to increased interest in digital health solutions that can improve care delivery and patient engagement.


COVID-19 pandemic: The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital MSK solutions, as many patients have been unable or unwilling to access in-person care. The pandemic has highlighted the need for more flexible and resilient healthcare systems that can adapt to changing circumstances.

Overall, the adoption of digital MSK solutions is expected to continue to grow as healthcare providers, payers, and patients seek more accessible, convenient, and effective ways to manage MSK conditions.




Mergers, Acquisitions, Growth and Strategy for Healthcare Technology companies in EMEA


Healthcare Technology Thought Leadership from Nelson Advisors – Market Insights, Analysis & Predictions. Visit https://www.healthcare.digital 


HealthTech Corporate Development - Buy Side, Sell Side, Growth & Strategy services for Founders, Owners and Investors. Email lloyd@nelsonadvisors.co.uk  


HealthTech M&A Newsletter from Nelson Advisors - HealthTech, Health IT, Digital Health Insights and Analysis. Subscribe Today! https://lnkd.in/e5hTp_xb 


HealthTech Corporate Development and M&A - Buy Side, Sell Side, Growth & Strategy services for companies in Europe, Middle East and Africa. Visit www.nelsonadvisors.co.uk  

 


 

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