When it comes to physical and speech-language therapy, how willing are patients to deviate from traditional tools to embrace virtual therapy aids? The data from a new survey from The Learning Corp, a leader in digital therapeutics and makers of mobile therapy app Constant Therapy, reveals that nearly 90 percent of this patient population are interested in using apps as part of their recovery.
The poll, conducted in partnership with Pollfish, surveyed 2,000 people who have experienced physical or speech-language therapy, either through direct, personal treatment or managing the care of a loved one being treated. While most reported using traditional approaches like therapy sessions with a clinician and paper leaflets and booklets for home practice, only about 10 percent had experience using therapy apps.
More than 90 percent of respondents in each group (physical therapy patients and speech-language therapy patients) reported challenges with their course of treatment, ranging from cost to transport to insurance. What’s more: about 60 percent of all respondents experienced disruption of care due to these challenges, such as missed sessions (35 percent), finishing treatment early (over 20 percent) and never having started therapy (6 percent of physical therapy patients, and over 8 percent of speech-language therapy patients).
The vast majority of respondents (96 percent) recognized advantages to using virtual therapy, with time commitment and scheduling (66 percent of physical therapy patients and 57 percent of speech-language therapy patients) and not having to travel (66 percent of physical therapy patients and 59 percent of speech-language patients) being the top draws.
“Patients are looking for tools that will alleviate many of their pain points with traditional therapy, so it’s vital that healthcare innovators are creating solutions that make clinically proven care more accessible,” said Michael Evers, CEO of The Learning Corp. “Like all patients, those in physical and speech therapy should be focused on their health instead of worrying about how they’ll be able to get the medical support they need to recover. Virtual therapy apps help eliminate several barriers of care by delivering it more directly while driving down costs.”
Covering the cost of care was indeed a concern with both patient populations: Over a quarter felt challenged by dealing with insurance during treatment, and over 15 percent reported that their coverage ran out early. Nearly 40 percent of all respondents recognized cost as an advantage when considering integrating therapy apps into their course of treatment.
Over 70 percent of physical therapy patients and 65 percent of speech therapy patients preferred face-to-face therapy for diagnosing and assessing their problem but were open to virtual therapy for other areas, with over 40 percent of each group opting it for teaching about their problem, showing and doing exercises, giving feedback, and finishing up treatment.
“As tech-based care solutions become more prevalent, it is imperative to clearly demonstrate the value of these innovations to all stakeholders,” said Dr. Joe Smith, CEO of Reflexion Health, a leader in virtual physical therapy innovations and sister company to The Learning Corp. “Authentic and durable solutions distinguish themselves by being patient-centered, data-driven and value-based.”
Many patients, however, remain skeptical of some aspects of virtual therapy, valuing the tried-and-true touchpoints of traditional sessions. More than half of physical and speech-language therapy patients worried about the quality of care, while a smaller group prioritized the human element (42 percent of speech-language and 37 percent of physical therapy patients would miss their relationship with their therapist). Trust in technology was not a big factor, with less than 15 percent of both patient groups reporting it as a concern, further signaling that the future of healthcare is here and patients are more than ready.