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Putting an End to Musculoskeletal Pain: Why We’re Proud to Back SWORD Health
November 24, 2021
Table of contents

Some may say that when you stop moving, you stop living. For anyone that has dealt with persistent physical pain, whether from a sprained ankle or slipped disc, you know it is a gruesome experience that consumes all aspects of life. It affects everything from sleep, to work, to relationships. Every day, you find yourself exhausted, frustrated and dejected. Pain changes everything.

Musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions, which can range from a sprained ankle to acute back pain, are diverse and unfortunately, universally felt. It is estimated that one in two adults in the U.S. live with MSK pain. Yet despite its ubiquitous nature, there are massive challenges in the healthcare system today that prevent patients from receiving adequate and effective MSK care, including the scarcity of licensed physical therapists, access constraints of regular in-person PT visits and over reliance on pain medications and surgery.

That’s why, we’re thrilled to partner with Founder and CEO, Virgilio (“V”) Bento, and the entire team at SWORD Health, to lead their $163 million Series D. SWORD Health is a digital MSK care platform that works with employers and uses sensors, tablets and licensed physical therapists to treat patients virtually. With its best-in-class sensor-based, AI-driven technology, SWORD health allows patients to receive the support and care whenever and wherever they need it.

A Pervasive and Costly Problem

MSK conditions are a massive spend category for employers, often falling in the top three alongside cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. MSK conditions range from pain in the muscle, bone or joint, often stemming from injuries, overexertion or repetitive motion. Most common examples include lower back pain, knee pain, neck pain, arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome. These conditions fall on a wide continuum–from low severity cases to acute and chronic pain. MSK conditions are extremely common and lead to more lost workdays than any other condition, costing an estimated $213B each year in medical costs and lost productivity.

Despite how common MSK conditions are, traditional approaches like physical therapy and surgeries are not easily accessible or applicable to everyone. Due to its ubiquitous nature and limitations in the existing healthcare system, such as access constraints to in-person physical therapy and over reliance on costly pain medications and surgery (one elective surgery can cost up to $110,000), MSK is consistently ranked as one of the highest spend categories for companies, and puts immense strain on both the employee and employer.

A digital MSK solution like SWORD helps drive substantial cost savings for employers as a result of surgeries avoided, productivity days regained and so on. SWORD members report a 70% reduction in pain, 64% reduction in surgery intent, 48% reduction in medication consumption, 52% reduction in depression and a 35% reduction in anxiety.

Democratizing Access to MSK Care 

The pandemic has exposed our healthcare system’s strong reliance on in-person care delivery and created a paradigm shift in the way we receive care with the rapid adoption of telemedicine. Digital health platforms have now become a core part of every employer’s healthcare strategy. With virtual care, patients enjoy greater convenience, access and cost benefits while care providers experience better flexibility, reach and efficiency. We believe MSK conditions are a key category that can leverage technology to deliver superior care virtually and drive highly meaningful impact on individuals’ lives.

With SWORD, patients first fill out a questionnaire to gauge location of pain, duration, severity, range of motion, existing treatment plans if any, comorbidities, etc. The questionnaire gives the patient’s licensed physical therapist (PT) baseline information to discuss during a 1:1 consultation session over video call where the patient and PT align on an initial treatment plan.  When completing these exercises at home, SWORD’s Digital Therapist uses data from the sensors to provide real-time feedback on quality of movement (i.e. “don’t bend your knee” or “lean forward more”) to ensure proper adherence and prevent further injuries. Licensed PTs can see all of their patients’ data, including compliance, self-scored satisfaction, range of movement at various degrees and difficulty/ measured strain during exercises. PTs can double-click into any individual to see exercises they’re struggling with, observe their progress over time, adjust future sessions and message them through the portal (via 1:1 text or face-to-face telemedicine as necessary).

SWORD aims to solve the biggest barriers to successful MSK care today by providing clinically proven, virtual physical therapy anywhere anytime, leveraging best-in-class motion detection technology to track strain and ensure the right level of movement real-time, and utilizing AI to make PTs more efficient and thus pass cost savings to patients.

Compassionate Team Dedicated to Changing Lives

Virgilio (“V”) Bento, (Founder & CEO) founded SWORD Health after witnessing first-hand his loved ones face incredible challenges with receiving adequate MSK care.From our very first interactions with V, we resonated deeply with his unrelenting drive, passion and dedication to revolutionizing the way MSK care is delivered. It is not every day that we get to hear customers  talk about how “incredible and life changing” a product is like what we’ve heard consistently from SWORD’s customers.

Sapphire is proud to invest in companies we believe to be of real consequence. We have a long history of partnering with category-leading companies in digital health and wellness with the likes of LivongoBetterUpMedableFitbit23andMeUnmindTonal and Breathwrk. With Virgilio and his team’s deep commitment to improving individuals’ quality of life, SWORD Health aligns squarely with Sapphire’s values. We are dedicated to supporting the health and wellbeing of our employees and are here to help our portfolio companies such as SWORD Health along their journey. We couldn’t be more thrilled to be partners.


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