Less work, better care: designing PT²

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Dario Strategy Analyst

15 Jun 2016  ·  5 min read

Once upon a time, we tried to build a solution to improve the field of physical therapy – but that didn’t quite work out. Today, we’re revisiting that concept. Presenting: PT²!

We started working on the first iteration of this project in 2012, but it looked quite a bit different then! We had the idea of building a tool that used motion sensing technology to help physical therapy patients complete their at-home exercises. However, we quickly started running into some serious issues with the maturity of the technology we’d hoped to use… And after some back-and-forth, we decided to bench the concept for the time being, and focus our attention on other projects.

Last year, we decided that the project had spent enough time stuck in the fridge. Even though we’d cancelled the first iteration, we still felt our research into the world of physical therapy and healthcare had the potential to help people.

Looking at our first endeavours with some distance, we easily identified our pitfalls: we’d been too carried away by the technological possibilities, letting it dictate and eventually block the solution. Motion-sensing technology is not currently evolved and accessible enough to support our initial ideas, so we simply started again from scratch.

Our research quickly revealed other opportunities to make the work of a physical therapist easier. After some debate and digging around, we saw a great opportunity to support PT specialists in their workflow, bringing our own experience in B2B productivity to the table.

Cooperation is key

We decided early on that this solution would only grow to be something worthwhile if we focused on co-creation: gathering input from practicing PT specialists would be crucial. And some of this data we already possessed!

As part of the research for the previous version, we had conducted interviews and participatory observations with physical therapists. We had asked for their input on their own way of working and tooling, on their role and relationships with their patients. As part of the new trajectory, we also organised sessions with PT specialists, to help us gather the information to shape the solution.

This helped us understand the roadblocks and concerns PT specialists are confronted with in their work, and also gave us some insights into the particularities of the Belgian landscape and its regulatory obligations.

The PT² therapist app

After reevaluating this information, we went into research mode with fresh eyes. We dug into the healthcare industry as a whole and physical therapy in particular, mapping its growth and its most relevant trends and stakeholders. We also looked at a few great cases from other industries to inspire our thinking. A tendency we see popping up again and again in our consumer research is that people’s expectations are not tied to a particular sector. Once they’ve gotten used to a certain level of convenience in their banking tools, for instance, they’ll carry that expectation with them when they are patients evaluating the tools of their care. And really, why shouldn’t they?

And of course, lastly, we scoured the healthcare tech landscape for interesting competitors: how they shaped their solutions and how they differentiate themselves, looking both at their business model and the solution itself.

Research, research, and some more research

During this research phase, we defined three major roadblocks and corresponding opportunities within the PT sector.

The first was the sheer number of patients and treatments: in Belgium, the number of individual treatment instances grew from 31,2 million in 2002 to 40 million in 2013, according to Axxon, the Belgian confederation of PT specialists. This opened up possibilities for the application: what if our solution could help a PT specialist treat more patients in the same amount of time – of course, without impacting the quality of the care? No physical therapist wants to spend less time on actual patient care, but many of the surrounding tasks left obvious room for improvement.

The second roadblock was closely related to the first observation: the time and effort the average physical therapist has to spend on administrative tasks. For instance, the process of patient anamnese (the preparation and formatting of patient files) takes, on average, 1 hour and 15 minutes per patient. We saw a huge opportunity here to streamline the flows of patient information to all important stakeholders – from the patient, to the PT specialist, to instances like the government, mutualities and insurance companies. This would cut back the time a PT professional has to spend manually copying and entering (the same) data, and potentially save them hours of time they could better spend on patient care!

The PT² patient app

The final opportunity takes the perspective of that patient. We’ve mentioned earlier that patients attitudes and expectations have changed, influenced by what they’re used to from other service providers. Today’s patient wants to be at the center of his care, with a healthcare experience that is convenient and transparent. This is why we designed the PT2 smartphone app specifically to empower patients. It’s easy to use and gives the patient all the support he needs to successfully complete his treatment.

And now?

PT2 is currently in an early concept stage. If you’d like to see a more detailed overview of our concepts and features, hop over to the PT2 website!

We’re now looking to get the necessary market validation before we start developing the full product. And that, of course, is where you come in! If you’re a PT specialist, we’d love for you to get in touch. Tell us whether this is the kind of solution that would make your job a bit easier, and what you think of the concept as it stands – just fill out the form on the website and we’ll get in touch!

Let’s work together to build better healthcare solutions.