New research out of the Mayo Clinic published in Archives of Rehabilitation Research and Clinical Translation found that the Limber Health digital exercise therapy app not only helped reduce patients’ pain and increased their function, but it did so more effectively than in-person physical therapy (PT).
As of January 1, such virtual physical therapy is now reimbursable, ensuring providers receive payment for remote therapeutic monitoring (RTM) through Limber and other similar apps. A Limber news release said the company helped drive the change to approve billing codes for RTM.
Limber’s physician founders see this as a step towards more accessible patient care by using such apps as a complement to in-person PT. Limber is HIPAA-compliant and works to help alleviate musculoskeletal (MSK) pain for patients via customized exercises, accounting for the severity and risks of their condition when curating a program of exercises for them.
Over half of adults are affected by MSK pain each year and PT has proven effective for pain management and improving outcomes. However, a majority of patients prescribed PT do not complete it; only 12% begin treatment and of those, only 30% complete the recommended sessions, according to Limber.
“Patients today face many challenges in making it into Physical Therapy and completing the full course of treatment. This often results in unnecessary downstream medical costs, including imaging, opioids, and surgery,” said Dr. Marc Gruner, chief medical officer and cofounder of Limber Health in an email interview. “While many MSK apps focus on a digital only approach, the Limber Health value-based care model delivers a high touch therapy experience in partnership with provider groups, combining in-clinic care and digital at-home tools. Limber Health works with payers and providers on an at-risk model based on patient outcomes and episode savings.”
Providers have a variety of virtual therapy tools to choose from in addition to Limber. RecoveryOne boasts of a virtual therapy platform that addresses both physical and overall health including mental health. Kaia Health describes its product as a “proven MSK solution” that prompts better outcomes.
“While digital PT can help improve access to care, the truth is that a large percentage of patients require in-clinic physical exams and manual treatment by expert clinicians,” Gruner said.
Limber tackles this by enhancing in-clinic care with digital at-home support to best meet patients where they are.
“Contrary to fee for service payments, the model focuses on keeping the patient healthy even after they are discharged from physical therapy, decreasing injury recidivism and lowering overall musculoskeletal spend,” he declared.
When it comes to Limber, the app hosts more than 100 pre-built, progressive protocols for cases ranging from regenerative to surgical to maintenance to nonsurgical. Further, Limber offers thousands of exercise videos for patients from which providers can produce a customized patient home care plan. Additionally, it offers a feature where patients can input patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) so their provider can see their results.
The app has videos for an array of MSK conditions, ranging from shoulder to neck as well as wrist pain to the knee and lower back pain. Each video also has a physical therapist coach in addition to showing a patient completing the exercise. Providers can also leverage the app to see what exercises patients complete as well as their PROMs. They can then adjust the patient’s program accordingly.
“Providers have so much on their plate, and Limber is committed to making it easier for them to deliver quality care by providing a turnkey solution that seamlessly integrates into their workflow and electronic health record system,” said Jake Grundstein, vice president of clinical operations and value-based care at Limber, in the news release regarding Mayo’s research. “Our solution keeps patients at the center of care, empowering providers with digital tools to deliver a hybrid care model of in-person interventions and at-home monitoring.”
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