Motion Sensor Technology Aids Care at Hinge Health

Physical therapists are going digital, offering exercise instructions and support remotely to patients. With wearable sensors and a mobile app from Hinge Health, healthcare specialists can add another dimension of care to patients and provide digital therapy with real-time visual and audio feedback to in-home patients.

 

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Image credit: Hinge Health

Hearing a doctor prescribe physical therapy (PT) leads to a certain queasiness for many struggling with pain and injuries. While PT is a regular part of post-surgery and preventive care, the precise, repetitive exercises can be tedious. Hinge Health has a new multi-part digital solution aimed at making PT more engaging and interactive, while improving health outcomes.

Unlike other health programs, Hinge Health combines wearable sensors, a mobile app, and access to healthcare specialists and health coaching in a digital musculoskeletal (MSK) solution with a range of support for patients. Participants receive remote physical therapy and behavioral health that they can sign up for through their company’s health plan or as individuals. The care covers prevention, acute, chronic, and pre- and post-surgery needs.

Sensors Guide Accuracy of Exercise

After signing up for the Hinge plan, members receive a free kit with an Amazon tablet, documentation, elastic bands, USB cable, and sensors built into straps that are worn around the chest, knee, or wrist, depending on the injury or pain center. The Hinge Health app connects to the sensors with Bluetooth Low Energy technology, detecting the position of the sensors and providing movement feedback during exercise therapy. For users, instead of wondering whether they are in the correct body position, they hear instructions and receive on-screen feedback in real time.

bands with sensors, cable wires, black plastic kit

Image credit: Hinge Health

Image credit: Hinge Health

The exercise target zone, for example, turns green when the user is in the correct position. Next, the exercise rep countdown timer begins and tracks repetitions. Throughout the workout, the app shows members the right positions, and the sensors let users know when the position is correct, so they can maintain proper form. These nudges help members get more out of the exercises and avoid injuries.    

Users are asked to login to the app at least three times each week for the 15-minute exercise programs that adapt as they improve. Hinge also includes articles with additional information about the pain or injury. For questions, users can email, text, or phone questions to a health coach.  

Higher Engagement, Less Pain, Fewer Medical Claims

In healthcare, reimbursement plans are in transition, shifting from reimbursements based on the number of procedures completed to reimbursements based on the value of care provided. The new model supports the increasing emphasis on quality over quantity. Hinge Health fits well with this value-based health delivery model.

Founded in 2015, Hinge Health is carefully tracking the results of its program and sharing the findings. Based on the results of 39 clients and more than 925,000 members, Hinge Health has recorded a 53 percent reduction in pain per participant (who work in manufacturing) and helped avoid 66 percent of surgeries based on clinical practice guidelines (CPG).

For tech giant Salesforce, Hinge Health also delivered positive feedback for its digital musculoskeletal management (MSK) clinic. Salesforce analyzed three years of medical claims starting in 2017 before Hinge Health and compared those numbers to claims in 2019, after Salesforce piloted Hinge Health. Increased engagement, a reduction in pain, and fewer medical claims were three highlights from the program.

Across the population, participants completed an average of 2.7 exercise therapy sessions a week, interacted with their health coach and physical therapist 5.2 times a week, and read 13.8 educational articles. The results are detailed in a blog and webinar.

In terms of pain reduction, 9 out of 10 program participants reported a decrease in pain. More specifically, participants experienced an average pain reduction of 58%. Medical claims for MSK also saw a reduction, dropping 60% over a three-year period.

These sensors for remote digital physical therapy join sensors and smart fabric that measure glucose levels, blood-to-oxygen ratios, and blood pressure, plus improve resolution measurements in X-rays and CT scans. All are furthering the adoption and application of sensors and IoT throughout healthcare.

  • Watch a webinar about Salesforces’ experience with Hinge Health.
  • Learn more about Hinge Health technology. 
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