Years ago, I was living the dream as a pseudo-big leaguer at the Kansas City Royals fantasy camp in Arizona. I was having the time of my life, playing the games during the day and hanging out with my friends and ex-major league players at night. In all the fun, I must’ve missed the instruction on proper sliding techniques as one of my attempts at showing Alex Gordon-like hustle ended in a Bryce Harper-like torn thumb ligament and a cloud of dust at second base.
And just like that and long before co-founding In Hand Health, I was a physical therapy patient.
Following surgery, I was committed to working hard to get better quickly. More to the point: I wanted to get back on the golf course as soon as possible. I consistently had productive PT sessions with my physical therapist that left me with a feeling of progress. I’d head home with photocopies of exercises and instructions to perform them twice a day every other day before the next visit. I’m all set!
The next day after these sessions, however, typically brought me down to earth rather abruptly. I’d clear time to exercise only to find I had usually misplaced the printed exercises. After scrambling around to find them, I’d typically question whether I had shuffled them out of order. (I was never really sure.) Sometimes, my copies were actually copies of copies and hard to read clearly.
The uncertain feeling before I even began persisted through the first few exercises:
“Did I keep my thumb pointing up or out?”
“How high did I raise my arm?”
“This was to be done how many times?”
“This isn’t what I remember exactly.”
The first few times this happened, I would call the clinic for clarifications. Understandably, the PT was busy and I would have to wait for a call back later. I then proceeded with my day. I’d eventually get the call but rarely was I in a position to drop everything and exercise. I’d miss a session or an entire day of exercises more often than not. I recall feeling like healing and progress had stopped until my next office visit where I would get my batteries charged again. Not a good cycle for getting back on the course.
Turning Experience Into Actions
This is where it turns into “there has to be a better way” story. It was my experience with this version of physical therapy and my past experience in running software companies that compelled me to envision a better world for PTs and their patients. (Incidentally, I’ve since been a PT patient for other injuries since then but maybe that’s better covered in another blog entry.)
Say good-bye to the old world of exercise prescriptions and daily fitness workouts. Bid farewell to the process where patients might know the names or see pictures of what they’re supposed to do but are never sure if they’re doing the motions correctly, often enough, or for the proper duration.
I envisioned a system where I could replicate my in-office visit at home as closely as possible. I wanted to see exactly how an exercise is to be performed, be able to communicate with my therapist quickly, and track how I was progressing in real time. This is the new approach of physical therapy with In Hand Health and Continuing Care.
Guidance from Your PT Anytime, Anywhere
The In Hand Health system is designed to leverage the knowledge of the physical therapist regardless if the patient is in the clinic or at home. Our telehealth system provides a full web application that enables PTs to build home exercise programs and monitor patient compliance. The mobile app portion solves the out-of-office problems every patient experiences but also brings new positive experiences to their recovery.
Patients now see an overview video of each exercise before they start and then another video while they perform the exercise that is complete with audio cues and tips to be sure it is performed correctly. A patient’s questions are sent to his or her therapist via HIPPA compliant text message. Or if they prefer, patients can also avoid the tiny keyboard on their smartphone’s screen and send a voice clip or take a quick video and show the therapist exactly what hurts.
Is a patient making progress? Check out the CaRe Index. Too busy to remember to exercise? Set an intelligent reminder. It’s all there on a patient’s mobile device and the therapist is just a message away.
Perhaps the benefit I like most is that a therapist can now serve as a “primary care provider” for patients like me. If my knee flares up or my back starts hurting, I can message my therapist and get help quickly, many times without even going to the clinic. This connection persists through the Continuing Care subscription that physical therapists offer to their patients. It’s valid regardless if insurance reimbursements have expired, enables clinics to retain patients for longer terms and add additional revenue, and offers patients cost effective peace of mind.
Physical therapists win. Patients win. Just like the Royals.
Bigger picture, we believe healthcare should make you feel more secure rather than insecure. We hope In Hand Health delivers on this mission. What are your ideas for physical therapy moving forward? Let us know in the comments below.