Sramana Mitra: Talk to me about the insurance side. It’s notorious. Physical therapy not being covered by insurance is a notorious issue. How do you think about that? What can be done, innovation-wise, to address that issue?
Nancy Ham: Most insurance companies cover physical therapy but they, maybe, don’t pay a lot or there’s a high deductible co-pay that is financially burdensome. Most PT courses of care tend to be 15 times. If you’re in a high-deductible plan, that can get pretty expensive for you. There are some things happening that, unfortunately, aren’t broadly public yet.>>>
Sramana Mitra: Innovation in your industry is also happening on another vector – in treatment. I actually introduced a company from our portfolio to Heidi a few months ago that has a laser-based pain treatment device. We have one in our portfolio. There’s quite a bit of work going on out there in various kinds of pain treatments and physiotherapy-related treatment besides exercise. What is your view point on that?>>>
Nancy Ham: Our data shows pretty encouraging results of people staying in care longer, which means they have a better chance of getting their best health outcome. Now, let’s look at the ability to engage with future patients. Physical therapists are out and about in the community. They staff road races. They’re at the high school football game. They publish health and wellness information.
Now they have a chance to meet people and then bring them into this technology platform and communicate with them on an ongoing basis. If your family member needs physical therapy at some point, they’ll think, “I should definitely go to this therapy. These people have been sending me great information.”>>>
This conversation explores the evolution of WebPT to a broader product footprint and also discusses the open issues in the physiotherapy practice management space. It also explores pain-related medical devices, the role of insurance companies, and other interesting nuances of the industry.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start by giving a brief introduction to WebPT and your current activities. As you know, we have had your founder, Heidi Jannenga, on the Entrepreneur Journeys platform as well as at our roundtable. Our audience is very familiar with WebPT.>>>
Sramana Mitra: How long do you think it’s going to take for those seven kinds of datasets to build up in an accessible fashion? Are we a decade away?
Matthew Michela: We shouldn’t be 10 years away at all. We’re probably in a three to five-year timeframe. You’re going to see, next year, significant advancements. Where does this thing start to elevate?>>>
Sramana Mitra: How long has this company been around?
Matthew Michela: Life Image is 11 years old.
Sramana Mitra: You have 11 years’ worth of data that is built up in your system. That data is valuable. My next question is, how do you make that data available to people who are trying to do research or anything that can be built on that data. What is the mechanism?>>>
Matthew Michela: Because data is so hard to get even in this new world of statistical evaluation in front of us, the data that you use is still inadequate. What data is easily accessible? Claims data or data out of an EHR?
That’s real world because I can tell you what I paid for two weeks ago or yesterday. I can pull data out of an EHR that happened yesterday or five days ago. That’s a payment evaluation. EHR has been built, principally, from the foundation of how do I keep track of things so I can bill and get reimbursed. It doesn’t have a lot of clinical information.>>>
Matthew Michela: The second thing we’re doing in this big trend in AI, which I think you’re going to see dramatically more of in 2019 to 2021, is adoption of AI. We spent this first generation of AI creating the new algorithms and the computational tools and outcome. If you look at that entire industry, there’s very little adoption.
The reason there’s little adoption is because it’s not a technology solution. I can be the smartest data scientist in Silicon Valley and create an algorithm that gets approval and works. But what I have to get that software into the workflow where they’re not going to change everything they’re doing for one piece of AI. They need to fit.>>>