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Gabriel Mecklenburg | Hinge Health

In this episode, Michael introduces Gabriel Mecklenburg, the co-founder and COO of Hinge Health, a musculoskeletal solution for employers and health plans. Hinge Health is pioneering the world’s most patient-centered digital hospital, starting with musculoskeletal health. Gabriel brings a unique perspective to the company because of his background in clinical research and because he, too, has been a patient needing this type of care. 

When Gabriel sustained a ligament tear practicing Judo while in college, he became exposed to many musculoskeletal treatments. He realized that the whole field was very much “behind the times” – and decided to switch his area of study to pursue a better solution in the industry. Because he felt distant from the patient when doing clinical research, he and his partner decided to do something that could positively impact patients at scale. When they realized there was nothing out there for musculoskeletal health from a digital health perspective, they created Hinge Health. 

Musculoskeletal injuries may be minor (a twisted ankle), acute (an ACL tear) or chronic (persistent lower back pain). Gabriel explains that chronic injuries are the biggest driver of avoidable cost. At Hinge Health, they focus on chronic injuries because they are the ones that, with the right care, can be lessened and eliminated without medications or surgery – which is what our current healthcare system resorts to all too often. 

The solution to chronic pain is multi-faceted. It requires physical therapy, ongoing education, and strategic behavioral change – and our current healthcare system simply can’t deliver on these needs despite the supporting research. Not only that, but the frequency at which a patient would need in-person care to get real results is totally unrealistic. 

The Hinge Health model takes established best-practices and turns them into their three-pillar approach that addresses exercise therapy, behavioral health, and education. Their educational component dispels myths and educates clients on scientifically-proven best practices, the behavioral health pillar helps patients create behavioral change that lasts, and the exercise therapy consists of sensor-guided movements with live feedback. They can do the exercises whenever and wherever – not just at a therapist’s office – and their adherence is tracked digitally. 

In a recent 10,000-patient study, 3 in 4 of their patients completed the entire 3-month core program. This level of treatment adherence is unheard of with traditional physical therapy, and a testament to the effectiveness of their program and the accountability provided through digital monitoring. More importantly, they’ve helped people reduce pain by over 60% – which is twice the reduction of pain you see when you put someone on opioids. Hinge Health will soon be releasing their digital musculoskeletal treatment study, which is perhaps the largest ever conducted in the industry. They’ve got a bright future ahead eliminating chronic pain and improving lives through their mission. 

Here’s a glance at what we discuss in this episode: 

  • 00:30 – Introducing Gabriel, his background, and his inspiration for founding Hinge Health.
  • 05:45 – What falls within musculoskeletal disorders and injuries and which Hinge Health focuses on.
  • 07:45 – The problems with how the system is currently dealing with chronic musculoskeletal pain.
  • 09:50 – The Hinge Health model, their three-pronged approach, and how they engage patients with each approach. 
  • 15:25 – The patient journey: What to expect and how they’ve dramatically improved their adherence rate.
  • 21:45 – The quality of Hinge Health coaches and exercise therapists.
  • 24:00 – Meaningful results, why Hinge Health patients are engaged and see results, and how Hinge Health helps patients avoid surgery and drugs. 
  • 26:45 – The “sister conditions” that are often present with musculoskeletal conditions: Obesity, mental health (depression and anxiety), lessened productivity, and lesser quality of life.
  • 28:15 – A patient case study, their fee structure, their “aligned incentive”, and their current customers. 
  • 34:25 – The types of employers they work with and how they’ll be expanding in the future. 


Hinge Health Website

About the Host, Michael Menerey

Michael Menerey is a Senior Vice President and Benefits Consultant with one of the largest Employee Benefits Brokerage & Consulting firms in the country. He is a partner in the Employee Benefits Practice and works in the Los Angeles office.

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