April 11, 2024

Thousands of UK employees given rapid access to musculoskeletal injury care following Lime Health & EQL partnership

Lime Health, the home of workforce healthcare benefits, has announced a partnership with EQL, the pioneers of remote musculoskeletal (MSK) health care. The partnership enables Lime Health’s corporate customers to give their whole workforce access to EQL’s full MSK pathway: Phio. The pathway consists of digital triage and care tools, as well as direct referral to in-person physiotherapy clinics where patients can receive up to three face-to-face treatment sessions via its new product, Physio Navigator.  

Physio Navigator will be made available as a stand-alone, modular product that can be added to the customer’s existing Lime Health portfolio of Whole of Workforce Healthcare Benefits. This unique and affordable structure enables companies to offer digital and face-to-face MSK care to the ‘forgotten 90%’ of workers who are typically excluded from workplace health insurance schemes.

The partnership launches at a time when the UK’s MSK crisis is increasingly taking a toll on population health and the national economy:

  • Recent Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures showed 2.9 million people had problems linked to their back or neck, up from 2.6 million in 2019.
  • Almost a million people in the UK are too sick to work because of back or neck ailments, according to official data.
  • The welfare bill for people with back problems alone has tripled in two decades, to £1.4bn a year.

NHS services are buckling under the demand:

Physio Navigator provides an alternative avenue for injured employees to access digital and in-person MSK care: without the stressful waits. The Phio-Access triage tool utilises clinically-developed algorithms to navigate over 3000 scenarios and match patients with the most appropriate clinical support (including face-to-face physiotherapy appointments).  Meanwhile, the product also uses the Phio-Engage digital rehabilitation app to offer personalised MSK injury self-management support to employees who are looking for an adjunct to traditional physiotherapy.  

Jason Ward, CEO and co-founder of EQL, said:

“The EQL team created Phio because we saw the impact that unequal access to MSK care was having on employees across all industries, their teams and their families, and we wanted to create a scalable, cost-effective solution for improved joint and muscle health.

“In 2024, our partnership with Lime Health will make Phio products available via the Physio Navigator product to thousands more people in the UK workforce, including those on lower salaries who would otherwise be excluded from workplace health plans.

“These employees can now enjoy peace of mind over MSK health, with improved access to the right source of expert care or self-management support. Their employers can rest assured that they’ve equipped their people with convenient, and engaging tools that they’ll actually want to use, and that will get them on the right path to recovery.”  

Shaun Williams, CEO of Lime Health, said:

“When joint and muscle injuries are quickly assessed and treated in the right way, the recovery period is minimised and patients can get back to work and their normal lives without delay. However, with a shortage of NHS physios and an overstretched public healthcare system, patients are often suffering months of stress, pain and immobility as they wait for an assessment or treatment plan.

“At Lime Health, we believe that everyone is entitled to affordable and accessible healthcare. However, because of the high costs associated with traditional medical insurance, up to 90% of a company’s workforce is typically excluded from cover. That’s why Lime Health offers a simpler, more targeted, more affordable alternative.

“This partnership with EQL to provide access to the Phio suite of products, is an important milestone in our mission to help employers support the health and wellbeing of their whole workforce, bridging the widening gap between NHS and private medical insurance so that all workers have access to good healthcare.

“Meeting employees’ MSK needs will set employers apart from their peers, boosting the attraction and retention of staff and well as their physical and mental wellbeing, while demonstrating the duty of care that their people deserve.”


About EQL

EQL was co-founded by health entrepreneur Jason Ward, physiotherapist Peter Grinbergs and operations expert Samantha Medcraft to improve access to world-class musculoskeletal care. The EQL team have built a digital, AI-powered platform, Phio, through which people are quickly directed to the right source of support for their muscle or joint problems, or provided with resources for self-management.Currently, patients access Phio via their employers or their insurers. Increasing numbers of NHS organisations are partnering with EQL to give patients on MSK waiting lists free access to the platform.