The Importance of Home Exercise Programs in Outpatient Rehab

Home exercise programs (HEPs) are a key component of high-quality outpatient therapy, providing important care continuity for patients while eliminating the cost and time commitment of supervised therapy sessions for providers. When HEP therapy programs are crafted with care—and patients adhere to them—they can help patients regain function and prevent injury, as they complement and supplement the care provided in the clinic. An effective HEP program will allow your organization to save time and costs, elevate quality of care, and improve patient and clinical outcomes.

In this article, we’ll address some of the most common questions about HEP therapy programs.

What is a home exercise program?

A home exercise program (HEP) is a customized set of therapeutic exercises combined with targeted patient education that clinicians assign to their patients, typically during an initial intake session so that they can introduce each exercise to the patient in person.

HEP programs help patients progress with therapy between in-person visits by performing exercises that promote healing and reduce injury, while gaining better insight into their condition and how to manage it over the long term.

What are HEP exercises?

HEP therapy program exercises are designed to be accessible, easy to learn, and feasible for patients to perform regularly on their own. They’re targeted at specific conditions or diagnoses, helping to boost recovery by increasing range of motion, reducing inflammation, and strengthening joints and muscles. For example, if a patient is diagnosed with patellofemoral syndrome (runner’s knee), a clinician might assign exercises to strengthen the knee, hips, and quadriceps, along with stretches for the hip flexors and hamstrings.

Many HEP programs also include patient education, which helps patients understand their diagnosis, promotes lifestyle changes, and motivates adherence.

What is the importance of having an effective HEP?

Effective HEP programs offer many significant benefits for patients, including reduced pain, improved clinical outcomes, increased endurance, enhanced quality of life, and better satisfaction.1 However, for patients to experience these benefits they must adhere to their exercises, so it’s important for HEP programs to encourage patient activation, motivation, and ongoing adherence.2

Here are some best practices for creating effective HEP therapy programs:

  • Look for HEP software that includes engaging, high-quality, video-based exercises with easy-to-understand instructions, along with access to a patient mobile app designed to encourage activation with features like gamification, in-app messaging, and adherence tracking.
  • Customize HEP programs to each patient based on their unique needs. Because every patient is different, doing so will improve the chances that your patients will connect with the material and keep practicing it.
  • Keep your programs manageable for patients by starting with a smaller number of simple exercises and increasing complexity as your patients progress to help them build confidence and mastery.
  • Explain to your patients why you chose the exercises you did, and how performing them regularly will help improve their outcomes.

How can MedBridge help with HEP?

MedBridge offers a best-in-class Home Exercise Program that helps organizations and providers improve patient and clinical outcomes, increase adherence, and save time. It allows clinicians to quickly and easily assign exercise programs to patients through an intuitive platform that includes engaging exercise videos. With the MedBridge Home Exercise Program, you can:

Easily build high-quality programs

MedBridge Home Exercise Program includes access to a library of over 7,500 exercises and over 800 patient education videos, as well as a Home Exercise Program Builder for creating programs with smart search, drag and drop functionality, and standardized templates for common diagnoses. Programs can be easily customized with your own exercises or for individual patients.

Improve patient adherence and outcomes

With MedBridge, you have many options for sharing HEP programs with patients. HEP programs can be shared with patients via email, text, or print. Patients can access their programs via the web on MedBridge’s HIPAA-compliant patient portal or on the go via the MedBridge GO patient mobile app. MedBridge GO promotes activation and motivation through gamification, feedback, surveys, and adherence tracking for providers.

Integrate with your EMR

With the MedBridge Home Exercise Program, you can also easily transfer your HEP programs to your EMR system to help improve point-of-care workflows and quality of care.

1. Makarm, W.K., Sharaf, D.M. & Zaghlol, R.S. Impact of home exercise program on self-efficacy and quality of life among primary knee osteoarthritis patients: a randomized controlled clinical study. Egyptian Rheumatology and Rehabilitation, 48, 28 (2021).

2. Anar SÖ. The effectiveness of home-based exercise programs for low back pain patients. Journal of Physical Therapy Science. 10:2727-2730 (Oct. 2016).