Article

Putting science front and center: Joint Academy in the first RCT to find clinically important improvements in treating chronic joint pain digitally

March 31, 2022

As a healthcare provider, science is one of our core values at Joint Academy. That’s part of the reason why we’ve chosen to only work with licensed physical therapists to provide our digital treatment to patients. It’s also why we’ve always placed a heavy focus on academic research and integrated science and research into everything that we do.

Joint Academy’s digital treatments are backed by ten peer-reviewed studies. The first randomized controlled trial (RCT) to compare Joint Academy’s digital treatment with traditional face-to-face care was published in JAMA Network Open last year and shows that Joint Academy’s digital treatment for chronic joint pain, by far, outperforms traditional care.

The first study to find clinically important improvements in treating osteoarthritis digitally

The RCT is the first study to find clinically important improvements of treating knee osteoarthritis digitally compared to traditional treatment. The study shows that where routine, face-to-face care lowered patients’ pain by 6% on average, Joint Academy’s digital treatment lowered patients’ pain by 41%. A total of 105 people, aged 45 years or older with a diagnosis of knee osteoarthritis, participated in the study and were allocated at random to two groups. One group was treated digitally through Joint Academy’s smartphone app and the other self-managed according to current guidelines and visited their general practitioner when needed.

For those of us who know the ins and outs of the Joint Academy treatment programs, the results aren’t surprising. We’ve seen first-hand how tens of thousands of patients improve their pain and mobility levels within weeks of starting the Joint Academy treatment — and this includes people who’ve already tried traditional care, who’ve been on painkillers for decades and have been unable to do something as simple as walking up and down stairs due to their pain levels and mobility issues.

Incentivising patients to adhere to the treatment plan — to the benefit of both patients and payers

The results of the RCT reinforces what we’ve seen ever since we launched Joint Academy in 2014. Giving patients access to a personal, licensed physical therapist, an individualized treatment plan and daily nudging to do the exercises pushes the patient to adhere to the treatment plan. Incorporating a level of gamification for the patient, where they’re able to tick off having completed their exercises for the day, incentivises the patient to do their exercises. The result? Great medical outcomes.


This is great news to payers across the country as it means that there’s finally a no-fuss and viable option for their members who struggle with chronic joint pain. MSK continues to be one of the top drivers of medical spend today while incidences of total joint replacements are rising. With Joint Academy, payers can now offer their members immediate access to a licensed physical therapist who will build an individualized and science-backed treatment plan and support the patient throughout the treatment — all through the Joint Academy app.

Payers ranging from Cigna and ChenMed to Humana and Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island are already offering Joint Academy to their members. If you’re a payer or provider interested in hearing more about what Joint Academy can do for you and your members, have a look here or reach out to [email protected].

/Rich Waldron, VP of Medical Affairs