A new survey from The Learning Corp — our sister company, and makers of the leading mobile therapy app Constant Therapy, used by tens of thousands of people nationwide — has revealed that nearly 90% of physical therapy and speech language therapy patients are interested in virtual therapy options to assist in their recovery.
The findings serve as a striking illustration that, when it comes to PT and speech language therapy, patients are not only willing but even eager to embrace non-traditional tools. Even more telling, only about 10% of the surveyed patients actually had experience using therapy apps, with the majority reporting having used only traditional approaches like in-person sessions with a clinician or therapist, and the use of paper leaflets and booklets for at-home therapy.
The importance of the findings become clearer with the understanding that more than 90% of the respondents in both categories reported experiencing “challenges with their current course of traditional treatment, ranging from cost to transport to insurance,” as The Learning Corp announced in a news release.
“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,” The Learning Corp CEO Michael Evers stated in the news release.
Virtual Therapy Poll Methodology & Findings
To arrive at these results, The Learning Corp surveyed 2,000 patients with experience in either physical therapy or speech language therapy programs, whether via direct, personal treatment or in the assistance of the treatment of a loved one.
And more than half of those polled reported experiencing disruption of care due to challenges like transportation to cost or insurance issues. Those disruptions resulted in missed sessions for 35% of patients and the need to conclude treatment early for more than 20%. A small number of patients said these challenges led to them never even starting therapy in the first place (6% of PT patients and 8% of SLP patients, to be exact).
Given these obstacles to effective care, it’s of little surprise that the vast majority of poll respondents (96%) acknowledged the advantages of using virtual therapy, even though most haven’t yet tried it. Avoiding the need to travel was the biggest incentive for 66% of PT respondents and 57% of SLP respondents, while the need to simplify time commitments and scheduling was listed as a priority for 66% of PT and 57% of SLP respondents.
“Covering the cost of care was indeed a concern with both patient populations,” The Learning Corp’s news release adds, noting that more than a quarter of respondents to the poll “felt challenged by dealing with insurance during treatment,” while more than 15% reported that their coverage ran out early. And almost 40% “recognized cost as an advantage when considering integrating therapy apps into their course of treatment.”
Virtual Therapy Helps Eliminate Barriers by Delivering Care ‘More Directly while Driving Down Costs’
The findings also show that, while patients are willing to embrace mHealth as a means to solve some of their most pressing challenges of receiving adequate therapy, they’re also not ready to fully break with traditional clinical treatment pathways, especially when it comes to the initial diagnosis and assessment of their conditions.
So, while physical and speech language therapy patients are willing to embrace technological solutions, they also see the value of certain aspects of the traditional approach. Luckily, given the rise of at-home virtual therapy tools that focus on leveraging technology to enhance the quality of the patient experience while also preserving the most effective aspects of traditional care, such solutions are more achievable than ever before.
“As tech-based care solutions become more prevalent, it is imperative to clearly demonstrate the value of these innovations to all stakeholders,” said Reflexion Health President and CEO Dr. Joe Smith. “Authentic and durable solutions distinguish themselves by being patient-centered, data-driven and value-based.”
“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,” Evers added in the news release. “Virtual therapy apps help eliminate several barriers of care by delivering it more directly while driving down costs.”