Technology is affecting all aspects of healthcare. It is changing how we learn about health, how we monitor our health and also how we treat ourselves. Access to services within healthcare can be hard, especially in the UK. To see a Physio can take many months over here and that is just for the first appointment. Your next appointment can be many weeks later. So when you see your Physio for the first time, they may diagnose you, give you some treatment to help you with the pain and then give you some exercises to help rehabilitate you.
But the problem is that you may not be seen or supervised for many months. As a patient you begin to ask yourself whether you are doing your exercises correctly. Who knows? Nobody is monitoring your progress. If only you could access your Physio remotely so that they can let you know whether you are doing things correctly or intervene if there is a problem. Well now you can.
Let me explain. About 2 years ago, I went to the gym and did a tough upper body workout. It was a sunny, spring Saturday morning and when I was walking home I noticed that the weeds were growing in the garden. I decided to spend the next 3 hours weeding. I noticed a little niggle in my shoulder but as most men do, I just ignored it and carried on. Over the next week or so the niggle persisted but I carried on life as normal, working, exercising and picking up my 2 year old who never wanted to walk anywhere!
Over the course of the next year, this niggle continued. Whenever it started to improve, my 2 year old would develop an aversion to walking and picking him up would aggravate my shoulder. After about 18 months my shoulder started to really hurt. When my wife stated that I reminded her of my young child in that I couldn't get myself dressed, (due to pain rather than laziness!), I felt something needed to be done.
Off I went for an ultrasound scan and was diagnosed with Supraspinatus tendinopathy. I then started to get that sinking feeling that anyone with a tendon injury gets ...I've got months of rehab in front of me.
I rang Barry Nguyen, (it's very useful when your business partner is also a Physio!) and asked what I needed to do? Don’t stress, was his advice. It will get better but it could take 3-6months.
3-6 months of Physio?!! How much will that cost??!! And I am going to the UK soon, where you can never get an appointment to see a Physio!!! It was then that he introduced me to Physitrack.
Physitrack is a way that Physiotherapists can provide you with the exercises that you need to do, monitor your progress remotely and then change your rehab program as needed.
So what did I get? I first received an email that showed a series of exercises that needed to be done. The exercises were explained with a clear, short video. I followed the videos. They were painful at first but then they became easy. I sent a message to Barry to let him know of my progress and then I received an email with more exercises to do that were more challenging and so on. The crazy thing was, for a period of time, I was in the UK and Barry was in Australia! After 3 months of intense rehab, I was doing push ups. 4 months, chin ups and 5 months bench press. Don’t get me wrong. I still needed the odd face to face review but most of the rehabilitation was done remotely.
A common complaint that I get as a doctor is that patients are unable to see their Physio often enough. Now with services like Physitrack, you are in communication (electronically) with your Physio who can supervise your recovery remotely, with the safety net of seeing you face to face, if there is a problem.
Technology has infiltrated all industries and is slowly being accepted in healthcare. When it can be really hard to access healthcare in first world countries, we as health professionals and patients need to embrace technology to improve the service that we give and receive. Healthcare will never be completely remote but seeing or dealing with a health professional online will become part of the process, along with face to face consultations, when you have a health problem. I had to go to the UK as an emergency and without access to Physitrack my rehabilitation would have been delayed. Instead now my shoulder is better and I much to my wife’s relief, I have finally regained the ability to dress myself again!
Blog post written by Dr Khurram Akhter.
Khurram is an experienced primary care physician and a thought leader
in the field of digital health.
Disclaimer: This text does not serve as medical advice or an endorsement of a particular product but serves as an example of how technology can improve healthcare. If you have any questions, seek advice from your doctor.