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Industry Insights
Do Older Adults Embrace Digital MSK Care?
Industry Insights

Musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions are the top causes of physical disability around the world and can impair function at any stage in life (WHO, July 2022). But as the risk of developing muscle and joint pain increases with age, older adults make up a disproportionately large part of the affected population.  

It’s estimated that up to 60 percent of individuals aged 60 years and older suffer from one or more MSK issues (Welsh, 2020). And according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), this vulnerable cohort is only growing bigger. By 2050, the elderly will comprise 22 percent of the global population—a substantial increase of 10 percent from 2015 (WHO, Oct 2022). In the setting of these alarming statistics, the onus falls on employers and health plans to find the most effective ways to provide MSK care for this high-risk population. 

Digital health: The key to MSK success  

Despite its recent inception, digital health is already making a meaningful impact in the MSK space. One systematic review found that internet-based rehabilitation programs significantly reduced pain scores for knee osteoarthritis as compared to conventional physical therapy and medical treatment (Xie, 2021). The authors noted the particular value digital programs brought to older adults, as mobility and transportation challenges in this age group often block access to traditional in-person care (Xie, 2021).

The surprising age group winning the digital health adoption race

In the past, attitudes toward telehealth and technology as a whole may have precluded digital MSK adoption in older populations. However, new research tells a different story. While younger adults remain trailblazers in digital utilization, adults aged 65 and above are catching up.

A recent study found that older U.S. adults are adopting technology at a record pace, evidenced by the 48 percent increase in smartphone ownership from 2012 (Faverio, 2022). This swift adoption of technology extends to telehealth, too. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, adults aged 65 years and older were most likely to use telemedicine services in 2021, while 18 to 29-year-olds demonstrated the lowest utilization (Lucas, 2022).  

Why digital health works for older adults

The unexpected pattern of generational adoption points to telehealth’s ability to meet the unique needs of older adults, as these individuals often face greater challenges accessing high-quality care than other age groups.  From a clinician’s perspective, telehealth drives greater value for elderly patients by: (Wardlow, 2022)

  • Improving access and engagement with clinicians
  • Increasing treatment adherence
  • Promoting more proactive care
  • Allowing patients to be treated at home
  • Reducing stress on family and caregivers 

These benefits, combined with the high demand for care, often outweigh any remaining barriers to digital adoption and drive higher program utilization among older adults.

Convenient whole-person MSK care for all ages

At Vori Health, we know that MSK care is not a one-size-fits-all journey, especially as MSK needs change throughout life. Instead of focusing on a standardized checklist of symptoms, our doctor-led teams personalize care to align with the unique needs and values of each member.  

Combined with Vori’s convenient digital platform, this holistic model makes it easy for members—especially the elderly—to access the appropriate medical care, emotional support, and social community needed to reduce pain and improve quality of life.

The need for high-value MSK care for older members will only continue to grow, and Vori Health is well-positioned to meet this demand with a convenient, non-invasive digital solution that delivers better outcomes at lower costs.   

Want to learn more about how Vori Health can provide the most effective care for your elderly population? Talk to our team today.


  1. WHO, July 2022: Musculoskeletal health. (2022, July 14). World Health Organization
  1. WHO, Oct 2022: Ageing and health. (2022, October 1). World Health Organization
  1. Welsh, 2020: Welsh TP, Yang AE, Makris UE. Musculoskeletal Pain in Older Adults: A Clinical Review. Med Clin North Am. 2020;104(5):855-872.
  1. Xie, 2020: Xie SH, Wang Q, Wang LQ, Wang L, Song KP, He CQ. Effect of Internet-Based Rehabilitation Programs on Improvement of Pain and Physical Function in Patients with Knee Osteoarthritis: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. J Med Internet Res. 2021;23(1):e21542.
  1. Faverio, 2022: Faverio C. (2022, January 13). Share of those 65 and older who are tech users has grown in the past decade. Pew Research Center
  1. Lucas, 2022: Lucas JW and Villarroel MA. Telemedicine Use Among Adults: United States, 2021. NCHS data brief, no 445. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2022.
  1. Wardlow, 2022: Wardlow L, Roberts C, Archbald-Pannone L; Collaborative for Telehealth and Aging. Perceptions and Uses of Telehealth in the Care of Older Adults [published online ahead of print, 2022 Dec 9]. Telemed J E Health. 2022.

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