19 Oct Fit For the Future
In today’s world where 85% of Australian consumers own a smartphone, anything from arranging transportation (Uber) to booking accommodation (Airbnb) is done via our prized mobile devices. Given how mobile-centric our lives have become, why is it that when it comes to prescribing home exercises to clients, many healthcare professionals still revert to the trusted stick figures or photocopied sheets? What if technology could give practitioners the tools to not only help them save time and improve outcomes, but also offer clients a superior experience. A new generation of digital healthcare apps is precisely doing this. We sat down with Marijn Kortekaas from Physitrack, one of these app developers, to find out more about the world of digital therapeutics.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am Marijn Kortekaas, one of the Partners and Program Director for Physitrack in Australia. Physitrack is a mobile healthcare provider that specialises in exercise prescription and outcomes analysis technology for physiotherapists, exercise physiologists, podiatrists, chiropractors and other healthcare providers. We are the official technology partner of the APA, ESSA and CAA and are used by over 7,000 practitioners with 250,000+ patients around the world.
How did Physitrack come about?
Back in 2011, a relative of one of our co-founders was given an unclear home exercise program on a piece of paper after a knee operation. The last thing he felt like after his operation was trying to work out how to complete his exercises. Our two co-founders, Henrik Molin and Nathan Skwortsow got together and Physitrack was born a year later.
Give us a quick rundown of how Physitrack works.
Practitioners choose from over 3,000 clinical exercise videos in Ultra HD to create and prescribe exercise programs and outcome measures to their clients. Clients complete their prescribed exercises via the free PhysiApp client app and report back on their adherence, pain levels/RPE/HR Max and outcome measures. This gives practitioners real-time insight into their clients’ progress, understand where clients need more support, and how they can optimise treatment plans. Hospital administrators and large clinic owners can use Physitrack’s analysis tool ‘PhysiData’ to do what is best described as clinical studies with real-time patient data from a client’s own ecosystem – it uses the same methodology that we see in sample-based clinical studies to actually predict recovery times for the set of conditions that are treated by the client’s practitioners and to benchmark actively rehabilitating patients with the predictions. It’s a health check and a financial planning tool that we tailor for the specific needs of
What is your mantra at Physitrack?
Everything we do at Physitrack revolves around three key areas: content, usability and outcomes. For example, our 3,000 clinical exercise videos were created with APA physiotherapists and universities around the world. The depth and quality of our library, and the fact that all our videos are professionally narrated, make a huge difference in giving patients the confidence to do their exercises correctly.
How important was usability when you developed your apps?
Extremely important. Practitioners only have a few minutes to create an exercise program, so this process needed to be fast and intuitive. Last year, Apple announced it is working with a select number of companies including Physitrack, which is something we are very proud of. Their support has meant that practitioners can literally prescribe exercise programs in seconds and track client outcomes in real-time. This not only simplifies clinical usage, but also has a dramatically positive effect on the client experience.
What challenges have you seen in the uptake of new technology?
As with anything, change is never easy, in particular, when in healthcare caseloads are sky-high and spare time is scarce. In Australia however, we are extremely fortunate to have some of the most forward-thinking and innovative practitioners around who are quick to adopt new technology. Where do you see the future of digital healthcare? Aging populations, increasing sedentary lifestyles and budget cuts in public healthcare systems mean the delivery of healthcare needs to become a lot smarter and more efficient. The great news is that a lot of the technology to achieve this already exists. Key is to make sure that different technologies and systems talk to each other. Outcome data being generated in real-time and analysed with proven statistical methodology can then be turned into real improvements towards a sustainable healthcare system.