Merging Traditional Physical Therapy with Virtual Technology to Advance Patient Recovery

We asked Yale New Haven Hospital's Lead PT for His Thoughts on this Recent Evolution in Patient Care

Yale New Haven Hospital’s Center for Musculoskeletal Care, one of the country’s most innovative and respected healthcare systems, continues to enhance its delivery of high-quality patient care with the recent launch of an in-home virtual exercise rehabilitation program. 

Developed by digital healthcare leader Reflexion Health, this new and more convenient approach to physical therapy allows YNHH patients to conduct the majority of their physical therapy at home via an FDA-cleared Virtual Exercise Rehabilitation Assistant called VERA.  By integrating VERA’s telerehabilitation solution into their award winning, traditional physical therapy program, YNHH aims to improve and accelerate patient recovery from joint replacement surgery. 

So how’s the merger of traditional PT and virtual technology going?  We spoke with YNHH’s lead Physical Therapist Joe Martucci for his thoughts. 

Yale PT Joe Martucci

Yale PT Joe Martucci

Joe, as someone at the forefront of integrating this new approach to physical therapy into your traditional workflow, how has the experience been so far?

It’s been positive.  VERA was easy enough to implement on the outpatient side and as more patients start to use the system, we are developing an even better workflow. 

What are your patients saying about using VERA to conduct physical therapy?

Patient feedback has been positive from the start.  Even those who had some complications post-surgery have given a positive impression of the system and its ease of use. 

The majority enjoy the fact that they can perform physical therapy in the convenience of their home as opposed to having to drive to the clinic two to three times a week. 

They also like the system’s remote monitoring as well as the interactive feedback and coaching from an on-screen avatar.  I feel this accountability is a key component of why VERA is so effective.

From a PT’s perspective, is VERA is making an impact on the patients who are doing the therapy you're prescribing? 

I think the impact is certainly there.  Patients are advancing faster with the use of VERA in their home.  They are completing all of their prescribed exercises and some are asking for more! 

Accuracy of the exercises varies from patient to patient but overall, it has improved their performance which I can analyze at anytime from VERA’s online clinician dashboard. 

VERA also allows me to communicate directly with my patients so if someone needs additional human feedback (i.e. “Joe, can you take a look at the way I’m completing this exercise?”), I can have a real-time conversation via VERA’s HIPAA-compliant telehealth capability. 

Speaking of telehealth, tell us more about these “virtual” visits with your patients.

I have performed virtual visits with all of my patients and I typically try to schedule them for at least one a week.  They prefer the virtual check-ins vs. having to come to the clinic all the time and they help me observe gait patterns as well as discuss any pain issues or overall feedback about the program. This keeps patients engaged.  In addition, they are a nice complement to the in-clinic visits we have the first few weeks post-operatively. 

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Would you recommend this telerehabiliation solution to other organizations?

Yes.  I would recommend VERA as a very useful addition to traditional patient-care.

What would you say to a PT who was hesitant About using this new technology?

I was one of the biggest skeptics of this approach when I first heard of the program.  But after seeing its positive impact on our patients, I view VERA as a great way to properly utilize care and eliminate unnecessary in-clinic visits that could be used by others with more complicated cases.


 

Thanks Joe!  To learn more about the VERA virtual rehabilitation solution or watch a demonstration, please visit: www.reflexionhealth.com.