FORCE Therapeutics Introduces New App to Extend Patient Care Beyond the Walls of the Physical Therapy Clinic
FORCE Therapeutics is introducing a new web and mobile application today for physical therapy practices, providing therapists with a tool that allows them to extend clinical patient care beyond the clinic. The new product, called FORCE TherEx, is a clinically tested, browser-based software product that provides both therapists and patients an easy way to view exercise videos, track progress and securely communicate with one another.
FORCE TherEx contains a video library containing hundreds of clinically tested exercise demonstration videos that were created by a team of prominent physical therapists. These videos can be used to demonstrate clinically correct exercises to patients, whether they are at the clinic, or in the comfort of their own homes. They show patients precisely how each prescribed exercise is to be completed and they can be viewed on any browser-enabled device, whether that be a computer, a phone or even an Apple iPad.
“The product was designed to address the specific clinical challenges that face physical therapists,” said Bronwyn Spira, a veteran physical therapist and a co- founder of FORCE Therapeutics. Chief among those challenges is that “the average first time patient leaves a clinic with between 4 – 10 prescribed exercises as a part of their physical therapy program.” Those patients are then expected to return home and remember precisely how each of those exercises should be performed.
Using FORCE TheEX, a therapist can prescribe any number of exercises and provide the patient with access to those professionally produced, clinically correct videos that can be used as a reference by the patient between visits.
According to Ms. Spira, FORCE TherEx was designed as “clinical tool for therapists that enables them to be more effective, to be more current with their technology and to run their practices in a cooler, more time efficient way. I believe it really achieves that and is a huge time saver for Physical Therapists. I know, I use it myself in my own practice.” She continued by saying that “Patients love the technology as well because they are looking to manage their own healthcare using their mobile devices or home computers.”
While the videos are a big part of the product, it can also serve as a practice portal allowing therapists to view and update their daily schedules, securely communicate with patients and track patient progress. The fact that the product is browser based allows the therapist to use it on a desktop computer while updating schedules or communicating with patients, or at the point of patient care with a mobile device.
“Using the FORCE App in our practice has resulted in a significant improvement in patient outcomes,” says Claude Hillel, PT. “It saves us so much time and the patients love it. FORCE TherEx has transformed my practice by providing an easy-to-use tool that greatly enhances a patient’s rehab experience.”
In the coming months FORCE Therapeutics will also be adding electronic medical record (EMR) functionality to the product which will allow physical therapy clinics to more easily communicate and exchange medical records with the EMR savvy physicians that refer patients to them. This product will be called FORCE TherEx Plus and the company hopes to introduce it during the first quarter of 2012.
Physical Therapists interested in trying FORCE TherEX can sign up for a free trial of the service at www.forcetherex.com. The company will also offer individual exercise videos to consumers who may not be visiting a clinic that uses FORCE TherEX.
Taken from PTtalker.com:
Poor patient compliance is one of the leading factors behind unsatisfactory patient outcomes. To help improve patient outcomes and compliance tracking, this week’s expert developed an online solution for physical therapists. Brownwyn Spira, PT is a practicing physical therapist and owner of FORCE Physical Therapy. She’s also the president of FORCE Therapeutics which provides digital health applications for the physical therapy industry.
The inspiration behind FORCE Therapeutics was Spira’s frustration with the way physical therapists deliver exercise instruction to patients. Instead of handing a paper with written instructions on ways to do a specific exercise, she turned to technology to provide patients with videos that provide clear visual and verbal instructions to patients. The collection of videos and patient management tools are combined together in a subscription based online application, FORCE TherEx. This intuitive online solution allows physical therapists to provide professional home exercise video programs to their patients from their own website. The videos are easily accessed online from any computer or mobile device.
After years of testing, FORCE TherEx is slated to launch on September 12, 2011. Physical therapists can give the program a try for free by signing up for their free 14-day trial. Click here to listen to the full podcast now.
Co-authored by Bronwyn Spira, PT, and Mark Fields, PhD, MPH
As health care professionals adopt information technology within their organizations, a new language has emerged around these activities. For physical therapists, these terms can be confusing- for example what is the difference between an EHR, an EMR and a PHR? How do provisions for “meaningful use” outlined within The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 impact us? Lets start by describing the various types of electronic documentation and their differences.
An Electronic Medical Record (EMR) is an electronic record of health-related information on an individual that can be created, gathered, managed, and consulted by authorized clinicians and staff within one health care organization.
A Personal Health Record (PHR) is an electronic record of health-related information that can be drawn from multiple sources, where the information it contains is under the management and control of the individual (patient).
An Electronic Health Record (EHR) is an electronic record of health-related information on an individual that conforms to nationally recognized interoperability standards and that can be managed by authorized clinicians and staff across multiple health care organizations. It allows integration across multiple settings, provides tools that support clinical decision-making and provides access to electronic data by multiple authorized users.
The EHR is the primary focus of our government as it attempts to leverage technology to reduce health care costs and business inefficiencies. According to the Committee on Data Standards for Patient Safety, technology based efficiencies will enhance quality, safety and expediency in health care delivery processes. The core functions of an EHR, according to this Committee, include electronic communication and connectivity, longitudinal collection of personal health information and patient support. Further, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) stipulates that EHR systems must support the delivery of personal health care services, including care delivery, care management, care support processes, and administrative processes (e.g., billing or scheduling). The IOM suggests “as individuals engage more actively in management of their own health, they too become important users of electronic health information.”
EMRs and EHRs are tools for providers while PHRs are the means to engage patients in their personal health and well-being. The key difference between an EMR and an EHR is interoperability -- an EHR is used to exchange information across multiple users, an EMR does not.
Although the federally mandated “Meaningful Use” reimbursement plan is not applicable to physical therapists, multiple benefits can be extrapolated from adopting an EHR including improvements in:
● Documentation efficiency and accuracy
● Overall operational efficiency
● Communication (amongst health care professionals as well as between patient and therapist)
● Data accuracy and analysis
● Clinical decision-making
● Research and outcomes management
● Coordination of care
● Reimbursement efficiency
Accordingly, changes are being made in HIPAA regulations to accommodate the use of technology in health care. As a response, the APTA has recently launched a multi-phase initiative to assist physical therapists with the implementation process -- from decision-making to training and preparation, through the final stages of incorporating electronic systems into clinics (they do not endorse products, just provide guidance on selecting the right solution for your clinic).
When implemented properly, the adoption of electronic documentation has the potential to transform clinical practice for both therapists and patients. The question remains- have therapists begun to adopt health IT into their practices? The APTA along with the Health Policy and Administrative Technology SIG recently conducted a survey measuring EHR/EMR adoption among physical therapists. The results indicate that 28% of those surveyed have fully adopted an EHR/EMR in their practice. Of these respondents, 13% reported they were extremely satisfied and 50.8% were somewhat satisfied. 22.6% of physical therapists surveyed are in the implementation phase of introducing an electronic system.
Given the vast investment by the HHS, CMS, IOM, and APTA to provide guidelines for health care professionals to embrace EHRs, the signficance of technology adoption is clear. The goal is to continually provide clear and concise information that will hopefully make it easier for the clinician to transition to the world of HIT.
1. The National Alliance for Health Information Technology Report to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology on Defining Key Health Information Technology Terms, April 28, 2008
2. Key Capabilities of an Electronic Health Record System: Letter Report Committee on Data Standards for Patient Safety ISBN: 0-309-55877-8, 35 pages, 8 1/2 x 11, 2003
3. APTA: Electronic Health Record Adoption Toolkit and Education Plan, April 15th, 2011
by Bronwyn Spira, PT and Mark Fields PhD and MPH
As patients become more and more interested in engaging and communicating with their healthcare providers online, the demand for portal applications will only increase. Patients are looking for innovative ways to access their health information and care providers – what better way than online patient portals?
Portals are healthcare related online applications that allow patients to interact with their healthcare providers through secure websites or integrated electronic medical records (EMRs). These applications can give patients the ability to request prescription refills, make appointments, receive medical reminders, view billing statements, and ask providers questions about ongoing treatment regimens (2). The key is engagement and it’s a growing trend among individuals who expect the most out of their provider-patient relationships.
While portals empower patients to take control of their treatment and recovery, they hold even greater potential for healthcare providers. In particular, these platforms can substantially enhance the quality of physical therapy care. Compliance is an overarching issue for ensuring proper recovery during the physical rehabilitative process. Think home exercise regimens, post-surgical contraindications, body mechanics… physical therapists always have so much to communicate and monitor. As we discussed in past blogs, compliance plays a direct role in patient outcomes. Portals provide a secure platform for sending important messages directly to patients and monitoring their compliance at the clinic and outside of it. The downstream effects are increased efficiency and productivity, reduction in administrative overhead costs and improved patient outcomes. These applications also allow therapists to expand their practices’ reach by providing innovative solutions for patients that are geographically inaccessible.
So, you may well ask: is now really the time to integrate this type of technology in my practice? In a recent survey conducted by Intuit Health, 73% of respondents said that they would use an online communication application to pay medical bills, communicate with their physician or physician office, make appointments and view lab results (1). More than 40% said they would consider switching physicians in order to obtain such access. Research such as this makes it clear that patients are eager to adopt such applications and now is the time for providers to get on board.
The use of portal technology is inevitable as patients take control of their health and demand two-way communication platforms from their providers. As we innovate around ways to increase the quality of care provided to patients, the integration of secure portals should become a mainstay for effective clinical practice.
1. Shinkman, R. 2011. Americans want more online access to physicians, FierceHealthIT, http://www.fiercehealthit.com/story/americans-want-more-online-access-physicians/2011-03-07.
2. Terry, K. 2011. Patient portal use becoming an inevitability, ForceHealthIT, http://www.fiercehealthit.com/story/patient-portal-use-becoming-inevitability/2011-04-23.
by Bronwyn Spira, PT and Mark Fields, PhD, MPH
Electronic health records (EHRs) are the future of the provider-patient relationship. As the storage, retrieval and sharing of information via EHR accelerates, providers benefit from the most accurate and up-to-date information available. The delivery of care is optimized through these systems giving providers the information necessary to make the most effective clinical decisions for their patients.
The issue of patient security is an ongoing concern. Privacy of our medical data is one of the cornerstones of our healthcare system. This code of confidentiality empowers patients to share critical information with providers and, in turn, allows them to make the most appropriate diagnosis and plan of care necessary. In a recent blog entitled Living on a Cloud we discussed how physical therapists are beginning to embrace ‘cloud computing’ as the new standard for accessing patient information any time and anywhere without having to purchase a server, upload a program or even back up their information. We emphasized that these services must provide Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliant user logins to ensure patient-therapist confidentiality and should be SSL encrypted to the level required by CMS guidelines.
So, just as with our financial information we must ask the same questions concerning our patient data: Is this data vulnerable to internet attacks and security breaches? What precautions are providers taking to avoid these issues?
So here are some facts on EHR security. A recent study conducted by the consulting firm, Software Advice, found that security breaches of patient data through internet hacking only account for a small percentage (6%) of HIPAA violations (2, 3). A majority (63%) actually came from physical theft and unauthorized access or disclosure (16%). Of EHR violations, all involved on-premise violations as opposed to ‘cloud based’ breaches. The author of the study points out that, “HIPAA violations aren’t happening in the cloud, rather, they’re happening in the doctor’s office, hospital IT closets, cars, subways, and homes.”
In order to continue the safety of patient data, providers need to take precautions to comply with HIPAA Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification Rules (1). These include:
- Ensuring that any disclosure of patient information comply with HIPAA Privacy Rule
- Ensure the service performs a HIPAA Security Rule risk analysis indentifying potential threats and vulnerabilities to protected health information
- Ensure that service conforms to the HIPAA Breach Notification Rule which requires the reporting of breaches of protected health information
It is clear that EHRs can enhance the quality of patient care and that taking the necessary precautions to protect privacy is a crucial step to ensure that our healthcare system moves closer to a paperless practice model.
1. Dolan, B. 2011. Mobile Health: How to Comply with HIPAA, mobihealthnews, http://mobihealthnews.com/11272/mobile-health-how-to-comply-with-hipaa/.
2. Koploy, M. 2011. HHS Data Tells the True Story of HIPAA Violations in the Cloud, http://www.softwareadvice.com/articles/medical/hipaa-violations-arent-in-the-cloud-1062011/#ixzz1TYEUKe4G.
3. Simmons, j. 2011. Can 'clouds' protect patient data from security breaches?, FierceEMR, http://www.fierceemr.com/story/can-clouds-protect-patient-data-security-breaches/2011-06-23.
by Bronwyn Spira, PT and Mark Fields, PhD, MPH
There seems to be no doubt that the adoption of technology into clinical settings has the potential to make a clinic more efficient and improve the quality of care . Healthcare professionals use technology to enhance clinical decision making, to retrieve health information and to monitor patient outcomes. Wider adoption of such tools will inevitably transform the health care process and begin to repair a broken and fragmented health system.
The introduction of smartphones and tablet computers has been an important catalyst of innovation. Products like the iPhone and iPad have literally reinvented the way we communicate and manage our daily lives. From corporations to local businesses, use of these devices has revolutionized the way industries communicate with themselves and, ultimately, their customers.
What about healthcare? Are clinical settings adopting smartphones and tablet computers to make their practices better and improve experiences for their patients? Are physicians buying into this new wave of technology? We assume doctors are technophobic and seldom use these devices. Well, think again. A new generation of physicians are embracing mobile technology and incorporating smartphones and tablets into their practices at an accelerating pace. A recent survey by the physician training site Quantia Communications revealed that physicians are adopting both the use of smartphones and tablets in their practices at a very high rate and this rate of adoption actually transcends years of practice (1). The study defines these doctors as “Super Mobile” physicians or those who use both smartphones and tablet devices to enhance their clinical practice. Interestingly, 25% of physicians who responded to the survey say that they use both smartphones and tablet devices for their work. They are using these devices to access decision-making tools, learn about new treatments, look up reference material, and handle patient information. Moreover, 80% of physicians who responded to the survey say that they own a mobile device capable of downloading applications to help them in their clinical practices. The study also points out that 44% of physicians who do not currently have a mobile device with these capabilities plan to purchase one by the end of 2011.
Of note: the study reveals that the use of tablets and interest in using them in the future is not affected by years of practice. This suggests that regardless of age, physicians are interested in integrating this technology to support their activities. Growing physician interest in tablets indicates that technology such as this will soon command the market and is here to stay. This is getting the attention of healthcare institutions as they begin to address strategies of how to most effectively integrate these devices into clinical settings.
Physicians are becoming more tech savvy. There is no sector that stands to gain more from this than physical therapy. The physical therapy space serves as an ideal testing ground because of the ongoing therapist-to-patient interaction and need to manage patient progression and outcomes. Treating patients in the clinic is only the start for the physical therapist. The need to engage the patient off site is critical to a successful recovery. The use of smartphones and tablet devices to aid in this environment serves as a fantastic opportunity. In the midst of industry growth, an aging population and mounting pressure from insurance companies to reduce recovery times, physical therapist are in need of innovative ways to make their practices more efficient. Mobile based, smart technology is a great solution.
1. Modahl, M. 2011. Tablets Set to Change Medical Practice. Quantia Communications, Inc. http://www.quantiamd.com/q-qcp/QuantiaMD_Research_TabletsSetToChangeMedicalPractice.pdf