Five facts about physio from Vitality PMI claims data

With demand for primary care rising, here are five facts about physio based on private medical insurance (PMI) claims data

clock • 3 min read
Five facts about physio from Vitality PMI claims data

Whether it's through virtual rehabilitation or face-to-face treatment following referral, clients are increasingly calling upon their health insurer for access to physiotherapy support. Especially given that pressure on NHS primary care services is at record levels.

Vitality's recent Health Claims Insights Report, which unpacked various trends within its private medical insurance (PMI) data from 2021, showed how physiotherapy services have been evolved during the pandemic. Here are five physio-related PMI facts.

1. Demand for physiotherapy has risen significantly

In line with demand for other primary care services, claims levels for physiotherapy have continued to rise. Vitality claims data shows a 26% rise last year. Physio accounted for 9% of Vitality's 2021 primary care claims overall, which represented 40% of all its PMI claims during 2021. GP consultations (30%) and talking therapies (4%) made up the rest.

2. Knee was the most common reason for a physio claim last year

According to Vitality claims data, knee (18%), lower back (17%) and shoulder (15%) were the three most common reasons for physiotherapy claims last year. Meanwhile, ankle (10%), hip (9%) and spine (8%) issues each represented a significant slice of the claims data, around 10% each. Other key reasons for physio claims were to do with neck (6%) and hand (4%) related injuries.

3. Men under 50 are most likely to use physiotherapy services

Demand for physiotherapy in 2021 was highest among the 25-50 age group, with very low numbers of claims among under 25s, and a steady decline in claims for older age groups. Men between the ages of 25 and 50 were the most likely to use the service. Rates of physiotherapy claims were generally lower for women, however older women (over 50) were more likely to use these services than men of the same age.

4. The majority of physiotherapy claims start digitally

During 2021, as many as 60% of physiotherapy claims went through a digital triage journey. These were conducted through Vitality's digital claims service Care Hub, which witnesses over 35,000 unique users a month and saw more than 100,000 virtual healthcare consultations in 2021. Approximately 50% of members visiting Care Hub use it to request care, while others use it to do things like check condition history and information, such as plan excess.

5. Quick access to physiotherapy is helping to improve outcomes

Easy access to care means more members are likely to use the service, and this, combined with the fact that early intervention prevents less severe conditions from deteriorating, means claims for more serious conditions should be reduced longer term. Vitality claims data revealed that claimants travel on average just four miles for a face-to-face appointment, with 90% being seen within two working days (rising to 98% in London). Perhaps most importantly, though, Vitality's physiotherapy services are proving to be largely effective, with 87% of claimants seeing improved clinical outcomes following treatment in 2021.  

Did you know? As part of Core Cover, clients can now access up to six sessions of physiotherapy via Vitality's Priority Physio panel, which includes over 5,000 physiotherapists around the UK for them to choose from. Adding out-patient cover to a plan provides extended cover for physiotherapy, with access to full cover for treatment with physiotherapists from the Priority Physio panel, as well as the option to see a physiotherapist outside our panel (benefit limits apply)[1].

Find out more about how Vitality can help your clients access physiotherapy support with the help of its partners Ascenti and IPRS

All data in this article is taken from the Vitality Health Claims Insights Report 2022. Read the full report here.

This post is funded by Vitality


[1] Treatment would be deducted from Out-patient Cover limit and limited to £35 per session

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