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After being a little coy about what I’m actually working on, it seems that it is time to come clean.

It’s been a slow-moving project, partly as I’m still having to earn a living doing architecture, and partly because my co-founder is even busier. But we’re about to step up a gear, both in time commitment and with an upcoming test-marketing launch, and so the time has come to make it public.

My co-founder is a physiotherapist. We’ve known each other for ages, but it wasn’t until I had an episode of frozen shoulder that I understood a/ how good a physio he is, b/ how important physiotherapy is, and c/ how ante-diluvian the systems around physiotherapy are.

So we’re setting out to provide a service that promises a step-change in the effectiveness of physiotherapy treatment – not by changing anything the physio does, but by supporting both physio and patient/client in working more effectively at the exercises that are the key to rehabilitation.

In case you’re lucky enough never to have needed physio care, the typical experience goes something like this;

  • You have a 30-40 minute consultation with the physio, who asks questions about your problem, assesses your condition physically, perhaps does some direct work on you, and then provides you with an exercise regime. You are taught 5 or so simple exercises in under 10 minutes, then handed a sheet with little diagrams and terse instructions.
  • Then you’re on your own until the next consultation in a few weeks time – to remember to do the exercises, to be sure to do them right. In reality, few patients keep up the regime, for a variety of reasons, which can include; pain, inability to do the exercises properly (all sorts of reasons), forgetting to do them, laziness.
  • On your next visit, the physio says to you; ‘How did the exercises go?’ and you reply something like; ‘Oh, not too badly’ – by which you might mean anything from ‘I didn’t do them at all after the first day but I’m embarrassed to say’ right through to ‘I’ve been doing them religiously, but it still doesn’t feel better’ – there is no way for the physio to know what you have really been doing, so s/he has to do the assessment all over again, and try to guess what you are really capable of.

This is pretty hopeless, really, given the technology and tools available to us. We believe we can address all of the main failure points in this process with some simple innovations;

  1. Exercise regimes are provided for the client/patient via a smart-device app, with video clips, full descriptions, voice-overs.
  2. The physio asks the patient to specify a time at which the client/patient will do the exercises, and the app reminds them via a notification.
  3. The app takes the client/patient through the regime in the specified order (which is often important for effectiveness), and requires them to log their achievement in terms of reps and an easy/OK/hard rating before moving on to the next exercise.
  4. On completion of the regime, the client/patient is shown their performance statistics in the form of a simple histogram of overall score (detailed stats per individual exercise are available).
  5. The physio can of course access the achievement statistics at any time, but typically does so at the outset of the next consultation, giving a precise picture of the client/patient’s engagement and performance.

With the addition of a fairly sophisticated tool to allow physios to quickly and precisely select exercises from the available library, this is pretty much the extent of our MVP offer. We have a long list of ideas for developing the system, some simple, some sophisticated, but these can wait for now.

Here’s a link to a prototype preview of the client app.