The rise of digital physical therapy - 3 companies to watch
Leila Hawkins: Digital physical therapy is on the rise - we take a look at three companies to watch
As Sword Health, a musculoskeletal care provider based in the US announces its $85 million fundraise to grow the business, we look at 3 companies to watch in this space.
Kaia Health's digital platform offers treatments for musculoskeletal (MSK) disorders such as back pain and osteoarthritis, as well as chronic conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Since the pandemic began the company has grown its business by 600%, evidence of a huge, new market for digital physical therapy while people stay at home to avoid the virus.
The platform offers a combination of digital therapy, personalised health coaching and advice from medical providers, which they say achieves better outcomes than conventional care.
Around 60 million patients around the world can access the platform, making it one of the largest digital MSK healthcare companies around, and following a recent Series C fundraise of $75 million there are plans to expand further in the US and Europe.
Fern Health is a virtual pain management platform available to people in the US through their employers.
Fern's digital therapies focus on addressing the underlying causes of persistent pain, through guided exercise programmes as well as sleep and mental health support. Every member gets 1-1 coaching as part of its programmes.
The programmes have been developed in consultation with experts at Mass General, the largest teaching hospital at Harvard Medical School. This relationship is ongoing, with clinicians at the hospital advising on new scientific approaches to pain management, including the use of artificial intelligence and predictive analytics.
Sword Health offers digital physical therapies for acute and chronic pain, as well as preventative care, with a particular focus on the back, shoulder, neck, knee, elbow, hip, ankle and wrist areas.
Sword's solution combines a wearable sensor with virtual consultations with a physical therapy doctor. Patients are matched with a doctor who designs an exercise programme for them; this evolves as their condition progresses. They are guided through the exercises via Sword's app, while a physical therapist monitors them virtually and gives live feedback.
It is currently available in the US, Europe and Australia, and the company has been steadily growing through the acquisition of new clients and increasing its user base. The latest round of investment brings its total funding to $135 million, with which the company aims to "lead the shift of the MSK industry to value-based care".