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Issue 3: How our Partners are Tackling Chronic Pain

AIA Vitality’s Pain Coach Program

AIA Vitality - Power SponsorPublished on 12 November 2021

We recently chatted with our major sponsor AIA, about their challenges and approach to supporting their clients with chronic pain.

Given that approximately half of AIA Australia’s income protection claims and 43% of Total and Permanent Disability claims are for chronic pain, the issue is a significant one for them.

To help achieve their goal of making a positive difference in people’s lives, AIA Australia developed their Pain Coach Program. This initiative has one overarching aim – to enable customers living with chronic pain to enjoy a life that is not dominated by pain. The program is innovative in the insurance space because it is firmly grounded in modern pain education and principles of behavioural change and empowerment. The program aims to help customers in pain to live richer, more satisfying lives on the back of improved understanding and progressing function.

AIA Australia has been working for some time with Professor Lorimer Moseley AO to develop and refine the Pain Coaching program. As part of a project led by UniSA’s Dr Vanessa Glennon and Dr Emma Karran, Lorimer worked with AIA leadership and half of the claims support team to promote their understanding ‘how pain works’ and how pain coaching can be implemented. They then undertook a pilot trial of Pain Coaching versus usual care pathways. To our knowledge, it is the first research study conducted within the global context of life insurance, and demonstrated the feasibility and potentially massive positive impact of pain coaching to successfully manage chronic pain claims.

AIA Australia has now been providing the Pain Coach Program via telehealth for three years, supporting over 1000 customers. Their innovation and leadership here is being recognised within the field, with AIA Australia winning the 2021 FSC – Innovation in Group Life Insurance Award for this forward-thinking and proactive initiative.

The program consists of five pain education sessions, each delivered via telehealth and integrated with biopsychosocially directed physical and functional coaching. At this stage, participants report on average a 27% reduction in pain and an 82% improvement in function.

Looking more carefully at some of the AIA data is particularly encouraging. Three groups are particularly challenging in this space – those on claim for over two years, those who have been unwell for over two years, and younger people who had long working lives ahead of them when they went onto claim. Positive results in these groups are cause for excitement.

Around one third of customers who have completed the Pain Coaching program had been on claim for over two years. Of these, 67% began or expressed interest in engaging in work upon program completion.

Around half of customers who completed the program had been unwell/injured for more than two years at time of referral. Of these, 70% began or expressed interest in engaging in work upon program completion.

Around a quarter of customers were below the age of 45 at time of referral. Of those, 79% began or expressed interest in engaging in work upon program completion.

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If you know the field, you will immediately see these outcomes as worthy of celebration. AIA Australia has been supporting Pain Revolution’s Rural Outreach Tour since its inception. It is great to see their engagement extend to innovating better pathways for their customers and it is particularly satisfying to see that even amidst this success, they recognise that there is still much work do. We’d like to thank AIA Australia for what we hope and expect will be ongoing partnership, and congratulate them on their award-winning initiatives. There is no doubt that we need industry partners enthusiastic and sincere in their efforts to ease the burden of chronic pain within our society.

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AIA VitalityNovember 12 2021

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