How to Launch a Successful Virtual Physical Therapy Clinic

June 25, 2020

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a chronic joint disease affecting one in four US adults: a disease costing $189 billion annually in the US alone. Since it’s a chronic condition, people need treatment over time – but not everyone can leave their job or family to visit a doctor or a physical therapist. To make healthcare for chronic diseases like osteoarthritis more accessible for the population, and help healthcare providers reduce their MSK spend – digital clinics are available. Here, you’ll learn how to launch a successful, virtual physical therapy clinic.

Osteoarthritis: A Disease That Affects a Lot of People

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a chronic joint disease – caused by breakdown or damage of joint cartilage – affecting one in four adults – thus, more than 32.5 million people – in the US.

But OA is not only affecting patients – it comes with a major impact on health plans, health systems, and employers as well. Fifteen chronic diseases incur 80% of global healthcare costs, and chronic joint pain caused by OA is among the top five of this list – costing $189 billion annually in the US alone. In addition, total joint replacement is a treatment for OA entailing high costs for society and healthcare providers (the cost is approximately $25.000 – $35.000 per surgery). Yet, one-third of all OA surgeries are deemed inappropriate.

Virtual Healthcare Enables More People to Get the Right Treatment

Virtual care, also called telemedicine, means virtual visits (including consultation, advice, and treatment) between patients with doctors, nurses, or other health-care providers through communications technology. Video, audio, or chat functionalities allows “virtual” meetings to occur in real-time – from any location.

Virtual Care Help When:

  • A health condition is chronic, such as diabetes, osteoarthritis, or heart disease
  • A patient has decreased mobility
  • A patient lives in a remote area with scarce medical care
  • A patient is unable to leave work or other daily activities
  • A patient is unable to disrupt family life
  • Wait times are long for physical visits
  • Visiting a doctor in-person would compromise with a patient’s health and/or safety
  • The medical system is overburdened because of a health crisis

7 Pillars of a Successful Virtual Physical Therapy Clinic

  1. Provides an evidence-based curriculum
  2. Creates a patient journey that motivates and engages
  3. Provides a user experience that is easy, enjoyable, and effective
  4. Offers a program that has high satisfaction and retention
  5. Provides simple pricing and member onboarding
  6. Ensures it is a sustainable investment
  7. Enhances the provider network and customizes to existing workflow

Joint Academy – the Virtual Physical Therapy Clinic

Joint Academy is a digital clinic providing first-line treatment* for chronic hip and knee pain, delivered by physical therapists through an optimized digital platform – including:

  • Contact with a licensed physical therapist
  • A personalized exercise program to reduce pain
  • Tools to track the patient’s progress
  • Daily reminders that help the patient to reach their goals

*First-line treatment:
According to national and international guidelines, specific exercise (supervised by a physical therapist), information, and weight-control is the recommended first-line treatment for chronic hip and knee pain. However, in many situations, patients with hip and knee pain are treated with analgesics medication or undergo surgery (total joint replacement) as a first-hand treatment: cases where initial, physical therapy, thus, specific exercise could have improved the conditions considerably.

Benefits With Joint Academy

For Patients

  • The patient connects with a personal licensed physical therapist – available whenever and wherever
  • It reduces pain and increases function
  • It decreases the desire for further intervention
  • The number of sick-leaves and early retirements (connected to osteoarthritis) can be expected to decrease
  • Telemedicine technology is secure
  • It follows international standards of care and integrates with existing care pathways
  • It is covered by health plans

For Your Organization

  • Getting started means no upfront costs
  • It Lowers MSK costs (since first-line treatment intervention reduces unnecessary high-cost procedures)
  • Telemedicine technology is scalable
  • Members are onboarded quickly and effectively, thereby increasing the effectiveness
  • The outcomes are measurable, actionable, and sustainable and results will appear quickly
  • It aligns with the organization’s overall goals for other initiatives in telehealth
  • It frees up critical resources to focus on the immediate needs of the organization