How to Set Your Patients Up for Long Term Success
As a physical therapist, have you ever found yourself at a crossroads with the lack of compliance with your patient’s home exercise program (HEP)? Do you ever find yourself having to re-explain exercises or print new HEP handouts because your patient lost their sheet? You are not alone. Around 50-65% of patients with a general musculoskeletal condition who are in a physical rehabilitation program do not adhere to their HEP (Bassett, 2003). A major hurdle that physical therapists must overcome daily is finding ways to get their patients to adhere to their HEP.
The Issue: Patient Adherence & Lack of Patient Comprehension
Physical therapists are highly qualified medical professionals, and the services they provide are not demonstrated in the HEP handouts they provide. Although it seems like common sense to physical therapists why a patient should comply with their HEP, if the patient does not understand how to do the exercises they see on the handout once they have left the clinic, what are they supposed to do then? The current HEP handouts that are most used today add another barrier that patients must overcome during their rehabilitation process. Finding ways to get patients to “buy-in” to completing their rehabilitation program will be different for every patient. Each person has their own driving force behind their motivation to want to get better. So, it is key for the physical therapist to search for what makes their patient motivated because without motive or a reason for someone to want to get better, the patient often times does not see the reason to put forth the effort.
Some patients are limited in understanding their exercises from the one-dimensional drawings provided. Even if a patient says they understand their HEP prescription before they leave the clinic that does not mean that they will fully understand it when they get home or attempt their exercises later that week. Maybe questions come up that they didn’t think about asking during their visit or simply forgot how to do their exercises. When looking at their handout the information provided does not paint a clear picture of what they should correctly be doing. If a patient is injured or in pain, the fear of making that pain worse by doing an exercise they are not exactly sure how to do will often result in the patient not attempting the HEP at all. While a physical therapist must make sure their patient understands their HEP exercises, the lack of communication options between the therapist and patient in between visits heavily contributes to the compliance issue. If the patient must wait until their next visit to ask their questions on how to do their HEP, a setback is inevitable.
You might be wondering, well, what is the solution to this problem? Simple. An application that provides a customized interactive home exercise program that can be accessed anywhere and with the touch of a button. This does not take away from the importance of in-person correspondence and interaction but merely offers both parties a communication source that can be accessed 24-7. Research shows that patients who have a mobile personalized application for their HEP are better able to incorporate it into their daily routines (Abramsky et al., 2018).
Blue PT is the physical therapy application to solve this compliance issue while also providing exponential value to your patient and a speedy recovery. Blue PT is an application that will improve compliance and allows the physical therapist the ability to create a video-based custom HEP that the patient can conveniently access on their smartphone device whenever they need it. The videos used can be of the patients themselves doing their prescribed exercises or videos of professionals with the right technique to rule out any possible questions the patient might have. The patient-centered philosophy of Blue PT will also allow the therapist and patient to work together to create functional goals that will help serve as a daily motivator for the patient. Goal setting is an important aspect of a patient’s recovery and is deeply embedded in the Blue PT app. By progressing from a one-dimensional program to an interactive patient-centered home exercise program, this will remove any potential adherence roadblocks patients will face throughout their HEP treatment.
Can a paper handout reinforce proper body mechanics or remind you of how you are progressing throughout your treatment plan? Physical therapists need to access a product that provides their patients with the right instructions and collaborative education to set them up for success. If the patient can understand exactly what they are supposed to be doing by having videos or images of themselves or professionals completing the exercises they are prescribed, this will only aid in patient comprehension. By having a customizable application, the physical therapist creates an individualized prescription and provides the patient with the tools to be independent and confident to complete their HEP program on their own successfully. It is not uncommon for patients to have a boost of confidence while performing their exercises in the clinic while with their physical therapist present compared to at home by themselves. By offering the patient an education resource that doubles as a HEP application, this will aid in patient comprehension and allow all parties involved to have the confidence to get on the road to recovery.
Bassett SF. The assessment of patient adherence to physiotherapy rehabilitation. NZ J Physiother, 2003, 31: 60–66
Abramsky H, Kaur P, Robitaille M, et al. Patients' Perspectives on and Experiences of Home Exercise Programmes Delivered with a Mobile Application. Physiother Can. 2018;70(2):171-178. doi:10.3138/ptc.2016-87