MedBridge CEO Donovan Campbell’s Statement on the Peterson Health Technology Institute’s Report on Virtual MSK Solutions

MedBridge CEO Donovan Campbell discusses Pathways, a new digital MSK care platform

The Peterson Health Technology Institute published a fascinating report this month showing that first-generation virtual musculoskeletal (MSK) care solutions have proven clinical efficacy. Our own internal data—over 15 million of our home exercise programs issued by our provider clients in the last year alone—indicates the same.

In the report, Caroline Pearson, Executive Director at Peterson Health Technology Institute, relayed a story in which she suffered a serious broken leg that left her with pain and limited mobility for nearly a year with insufficient guidance to the types of innovative virtual MSK care that could have helped her.

“During that period, I crutched and hobbled my way to three in-person physical therapy (PT) sessions per week—squeezing in sessions on busy workdays and unfortunately regularly missing them during business travel. Virtual PT would have been a great option for me. Yet, I never realized that my insurance covered a virtual MSK program—the providers were not listed in my network and my doctor never suggested it. If someone like me—who works day in and out on healthcare, was uninformed—I can only imagine how many millions of people are in need of more information about this important area of healthcare innovation.”

This heartbreaking story is unfortunately all too common today, and millions of Americans need treatment for MSK care conditions each year… but we’ve just launched our own healthcare innovation to meet this critical need. On July 1st, we released MedBridge Pathways, our hybrid MSK platform that allows healthcare organizations to deliver on the next generation of digital care. This solution fully realizes the promise inherent in an emerging post-COVID-19 care modality, one that we are terming “hybrid care.” This experience is one in which virtual care and physical care are intertwined, because that care is provided and overseen by the same clinical team in both modalities. We believe this approach to care builds on the pioneering work done by first-gen virtual MSK solutions by addressing their three biggest shortcomings.

Three Problems Facing First-Gen Virtual MSK Care Models

  1. Dis-intermediated local providers
    As Caroline’s story illustrates, the current first-generation solutions have circumvented existing brick-and mortar providers to build their own digitally-siloed provider networks. While this approach does address some local access issues, it separates a patient’s digital provider from their physical provider, makes data sharing between the two nearly impossible, and places an unnecessary burden on the patient to coordinate their own care.
  2. Fragmented solution ecosystems
    The current first-gen landscape can be segmented into three distinct segments, each of which delivers a discrete and narrow set of services appropriate only for a subset of the patient population. As the report describes, “App-based exercise therapy and physical therapist-guided solutions generally aim to replace in-person care, whereas RTM-augmented PT solutions are meant to supplement in-person care by improving adherence to care plans between in-person PT visits.”

    None of these solutions can serve all patients regardless of their acuity, or even the same patient as they progress across the acuity spectrum. Thus, every patient that enters a particular point solution gets pushed to consume the services that solution can deliver—regardless of whether said services are a great fit or not. Patients become nails to whatever particular hammer the first-gen solutions provide.
  3. Unnecessary costly services
    Due to this fragmentation, too many first-gen providers have built redundant, human-powered services that don’t take advantage of the provider ecosystem that already exists in the brick and mortar world. Moreover, because they can’t piggyback on natural patient behavior—i.e., when I get injured or experience chronic pain, I want to see a real-world provider—they have built up their own expensive patient marketing services. These duplicative services result in solution price points that are, quite simply, unnecessarily high.

We think these first-generation solutions have done pioneering work proving that virtual MSK care can improve both patient access and outcomes. But that success is limited by the three factors above, which is why we’ve designed Pathways to overcome them all.

The Solution For Next-Gen Models: Provider-Driven Digital MSK Care

Rather than treating it as a binary choice between digital care and traditional programs, Pathways has been designed to integrate digital care into traditional care settings, so that providers can meet patients where they are and match care delivery to their acuity level.

First, we’ve built Pathways as a platform for use by existing brick-and-mortar providers to give them more options and greater reach when treating their patients. In fact, we have major hospital systems across the country piloting Pathways right now with hundreds of their patients. 

Second, because of our clinician-first approach, Pathways can be used to support patients across the acuity spectrum. It can:

  • Provide low/no-touch, automated care for low acuity patients
  • Be prescribed by treating PTs to supplement patient care in between brick-and-mortar visits
  • Be used by a hospital’s virtual team as a platform that integrates with their care 
  • Allow any provider using it to bill for Remote Therapeutic Monitoring (RTM)

Moreover, we’ve integrated Pathways into Epic and other major EHRs so that a patient’s data is instantly available, meaning treating providers can utilize our tool inside of their existing day-to-day systems.

Finally, because we work with—not against—local clinical networks, our solution is significantly less expensive than the alternatives, even as it offers greater capabilities to patients and providers alike.

If Caroline had seen one of our Pathways-enabled clinicians after breaking her leg, she would have had a very different care experience. In her first visit, her local PT would have prescribed her one of our Pathways, taking her own goals, fitness level, and injury acuity into account. Caroline would have been able to do her assigned Pathway (a combination of exercise and condition-specific education) at home, monitored and assisted by AI-powered motion capture, and recorded her outcomes—pain, symptoms, etc—in the platform. That, in turn, would have fed her PT’s EHR, so that every day her local treating physician could have monitored her progress, modified her treatment if necessary, and brought her back into the office if anything concerning transpired. No missing sessions due to work travel, no squeezing visits into inconvenient appointment slots, and no disconnects in care between a first-gen virtual MSK solution and her own local care team.

Medbridge Pathways is now available for all. Learn more about how Pathways can support your clinicians in their quest to help patients move better, feel better, and live better; or request a demo to see Pathways in action.