By Raja Sundaram, CEO, Plethy
Physical therapy is critical for recovery. Studies show that PT is seen as a potential pain management approach in addition to its traditional role in physical recovery. Nonetheless, payers are scrutinizing PT more than ever, seeking ways to maximize the impact. Perhaps the most important component of physical therapy is what happens at home, where the majority of recovery occurs.
When a patient leaves after their initial PT visit, they are given some form of written instructions on home exercises and shown the proper way to do those exercises. From there, they are on their own. If you’ve ever had PT you may remember trying to read the xeroxed instruction sheet, trying to remember what the PT said, and wondering if you’re doing the exercises correctly.
That’s one of the challenges of home exercises; are patients doing them correctly to speed recovery and avoid further injuring themselves? Are the patients actually doing the exercises? Are they getting better? If they’re not doing the exercises, why not?
A thoughtful approach to virtual care can support injured workers in their recovery journey at home, safely and effectively while speeding up their return to work. Virtual care enables the healthcare providers (doctors, PTs, NCMs) and the claims team to extend care into the injured worker’s home, empowering workers to manage their own care.
It is time to replace the “did you do what I asked you to do at home, how often” question (and questionable answers) with real-time visibility into the injured worker’s compliance with home therapy and progress towards recovery.
While new technology (wearables, smartphones, bluetooth, wifi) are key to the approach, technology alone is NOT a solution; rather it is part of a patient-centered approach based on ease of use, patient-specific exercises supported by a real person that can help with everything from internet connectivity to exercise explanation virtual care for musculoskeletal injuries must include:
- A structured program that is easy for the injured worker to follow at home.
- Intuitive tech: App on a smart device, sensor, etc. that delivers this structured program.
- Coaching and support in an empathetic patient engagement model.
- Real-time data and insights for recovery tracking and quicker intervention.
- Simplified care provider engagement and timely access to at-home recovery data.
- Actionable insights readily available to the claims team.
Here’s how effective virtual care works.
Jose is experiencing lower back pain. The treating physician prescribes PT. Jose goes to PT and is given a home exercise program specific to his injury and recovery. Now it is up to Jose to follow his home exercise programs between PT visits. A virtual care program using a wearable device coupled with a smartphone augments Jose’s visits to his PT clinic and the treating physician. This can help Jose follow his care plan, get the support he needs and recover quickly. His care team and claims examiner gain visibility into Jose’s engagement and support him in his recovery. The virtual care platform supports Jose in managing his pain, monitors his use of pain meds, and connects him to a support person to help Jose get his strength, flexibility, and mobility back. In addition, the virtual care program can be continued for an additional month to support strengthening and minimize the risk of reinjury
Suzie is undergoing a knee replacement. Her in-clinic visits include post-surgery ortho visits and PT sessions. Quality recovery requires Suzie to be ready for surgery and beyond – mentally, physically, and emotionally. Virtual care supports Suzie’s preparation for surgery, incorporating baseline assessments, pre-habilitation home exercises, and pre-op readiness checklists. It supports quality outcomes in post-surgery by reminding Suzie to take her medication, manage her pain, and do her PT-prescribed home exercises. Virtual care provides her care team with real-time visibility into post-operative risks for quicker intervention, and personalization of care plan in consultation with the PT and the ortho.
Claims managers care about the right care at the right time for the injured worker to speed recovery and return to work. Empowering injured workers enables them to manage their care at home and provides visibility into the injured worker’s engagement and recovery progression.
The key is to understand that technology is just a tool; too often there’s far too much focus on the cool new tech/device/app, and nowhere near enough on how best to engage the patient. More on that in the next article; spoiler alert we will focus on integrating a bio-psycho-social approach is key to keeping the injured worker engaged, and using the resulting data provided by the tech is key to quicker return-to-work and sustainable cost reduction. Stay tuned!
About Raja Sundaram
As the CEO of Plethy, Raja is passionate about reshaping the patient experience through a digital health hybrid care model that augments care providers at home. He is a believer in approaching patients holistically through bio-psycho-social data-driven patient engagement and analytics to a personalized care plan, accelerate recovery, and gain sustainable cost reduction.
His experience spans multiple industries that include leadership and strategy consulting roles at Cisco Systems, Virgin Hyperloop One, and Boston Consulting. Raja is also in startup advisory boards that span various industries including cyber security.
At Plethy, he is addressing a societal problem by focusing on musculoskeletal care. As we all grow older and live longer, the costs of musculoskeletal care will only increase, further adding to the burden on society. Raja sees MSK recovery-in-place as foundational for overall physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.
Plethy Recupe Musculoskeletal Solution supports patients in their recovery at home and enables quality outcomes. Recupe is for all MSK conditions and supports all major joints. The solution is being used in workers comp, group health, sports, personal injury, benefits program, and CAT cases.
Plethy believes that musculoskeletal health gives us the independence to follow all the paths life may take us down or forge our own path. – at home, at work, or at leisure.
Leaders from technology and medicine came together to create Plethy, with active support from engaged doctors and thought leaders in workers comp.