Physical therapy is an essential resource for quality of life of patients and also for their families, yet, there is a significant global underserved population due to the gap between the service supply and demand growing due to the difficulty in hiring skilled professionals and also because of the demographic factors of an increasing ageing population.
Considering those issues, Sword Health developed in 2014 SWORD Phoenix, a software for physical rehabilitation that uses body sensors and cloud technology to provide patients with high-quality physiotherapy at home, supported remotely by physiotherapists. Thus, SWORD Health is strongly committed and aligned with two of the Sustainable Development Goals: Goal 3: Good health and well-being and Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth. Both affect patients and their families as well as physiotherapists.
Up until April of 2018, at least 822 patients who are fully rehabilitated, and about 50 physiotherapists in three countries (Portugal, USA and Australia) noticed improvements in their career due to the new practices and the knowledge that SWORD Health brought to them through the platform.
Regarding the contributions to Goal 8 mentioned above, the added value of SWORD Health is made by enhancing the role of the physiotherapist that becomes a coach in the patient's journey towards a complete recovery and well-being, instead a mere instructor and follower, according to this group of physiotherapist working for SWORD Health in the picture.
Fernando Correia, Chief Medical Officer of SWORD Health summarizes this benefit by saying that this technology maintains the noble part of the profession that is the clinical diagnosis and the elaboration of the appropriate treatment plan for each patient. All this without neglecting daily monitoring of patients through the analysis of the systems' dashboards where the therapist monitors the performance of each patient and is able to give them a quick and individualized feedbacks.
Joana Guimarães, a physical therapist working at the R&D area of SWORD Phoenix and Otago (a software for fall prevention), complements Fernando's opinion about the requalification of the physiotherapist´s role as one of the main contributions of SWORD Phoenix.
Joana says that since there are very few qualified professionals versus a large demand of patients, the SWORD health allows an important quality gain in the daily practice of physical therapy. She explains that in conventional therapy, the routine consists in prescribing the treatment and demonstrating to the patient how the exercises can be done (with very little supervision). And compares: "with this technology, however, the professional gets well informed about how the patient did the exercises and what can be improved at any time. That's why SWORD Phoenix has given us a lot more confidence to act as professionals. This is the appreciation that I feel", she admits.
For André Nogueira, physiotherapist, SWORD Health valuated his profession by the benefits it confers to the patient. "The difference lies in the empowerment that the software brings to patient, putting them at the center of the equation". And he explains this further: "the big change now is that the patients do not simply read a prescription, but they realize that they are also in control of their own recovery with our support. They understand the greater responsibility attributed to them, even if they feel assisted by us when doing the exercises in the comfort of their homes." André resumes that this empowerment approach added to the conveniences that the treatment brings to patients and their families are the major motivations for adherence to SWORD Phoenix.
The second contribution related to the Goal 8 is that SWORD Phoenix is providing a better cost-benefit ratio for patients and their families as well as the physiotherapists.
In fact, according to SWORD Phoenix's study conducted in 2017, SWORD Health represents an annual cost of 6% of the annual cost of a traditional Physical Therapist.
Also,till the end of 2017, 259,991.76 km were saved by patients (families) and professionals.This reflectes savings in time and in financial resources spent by both.
André Nogueira argues that the financial compensation is visible for the professionals because they can have more patients in their portfolio. "If by working under conventional methods, seeking for quality, we were able to see no much more than six patients per day, with SWORD Phoenix we started to monitor about 30 patients. Moreover,the technology allowed us to gain time and this enabled us to promote other economic activities," André says.
Ivo Magalhães, SWORD Health physiotherapist comments that one of the points that makes conventional treatment difficult is the fact that most of the patients have to go to the health center everyday. For both, chronic and chirurgical cases, the patient needs a family member to collaborate in his/hers logistic. "This implies in costs for someone that needs to conciliate this kind of support with labor activities during weeks", he explains. "This is why families found SWORD Health an added value therapy methodology, not only for its efficacy, but also for avoiding possible expenses associated with absenteeism".
Ivo adds that some support is from the family is always welcome for some patients, like setting up the system or adjusting the sensors their bodies. "During my study with 60 patients in their homes, I have seen even little grandsons supporting their grandpa to use the tablet."
Behind those benefits of allowing that physiotherapist have a better and decent work and contributing economically to them as well as to patients and their families is Green Innovations, the SWORD Health impact investor. Democratize access to effective physical rehabilitation therapy to an increasing demand of people in Portugal, USA and Australia, thus solving a big human problem. This is the mission of SWORD Health that Green Innovations empowers and supports.