New Study: Physical Therapy Patients Prefer In-Person, In-Home Care Over Virtual or Facility-Based Care
Despite record investments in virtual physical therapy companies, most notably Hinge Health and Sword Health, a new study shows that physical therapy patients materially prefer hands-on, home-based care.
In the study, 1,000 patients with a wide range of conditions were asked to rate their willingness to use in-person in-home care, virtual televisit-based care, and facility-based care for their physical therapy treatment, using a scale of 0-5 (5 being the highest).
Conducted byLuna, a leading provider of physical therapy, the study shows a strong preference for in-person, in-home care (5.0), with a reasonable willingness to use facility-based care (3.1) and, less desirable, virtual-based care (2.7) among under 55 age patients. Consistent trends were observed among those for 55+ age patients: in-home care (5.0), facility-based care (2.8), and virtual-based care (1.9).
A patient noted how virtual care was initially appealing but, ultimately, didn’t meet their recovery needs: “Initially drawn to [the virtual offering] due to its convenience, I found certain aspects challenging. Setting up the equipment was cumbersome and, over time, I found it difficult to motivate myself with the virtual solution. I needed a real-life physical therapist that could provide in-person accountability and hands-on care.”
“The study reveals the challenges of pure technology approaches given patient preferences and limitations, particularly among older people. These included technology challenges by users, lack of personalized hands-on treatment, and lack of face-to-face interaction and accountability. It also demonstrates the need for a balanced, multi-modal approach in physical therapy, particularly for patients in rural areas where access to facilities or home services can be problematic,” said Palak Shah, co-founder and head of clinical services at Luna.
According to aMcKinsey report, up to $265 billion worth of care services, representing up to 25 percent of the total cost of care, is expected to shift to the home by 2025.
Unlike remote or virtual care, Luna’s licensed physical therapists provide 1:1 hands-on care in the convenience of the patient’s home. Through Luna, patients can request an in-home physical therapy via the company's app. A licensed physical therapist is then scheduled to arrive at the patient's home within one hour for a full 45-55 minute appointment.
In a recentnational report, Luna showed that health systems lose an estimated $3.1 billion revenue from physical therapy referral leakage as 60% of patients referred to physical therapy by their health system opted for a local clinic provider. Leading health systems such as Providence, Emory Healthcare, Intermountain Healthcare, UCLA Health and Scripps Health have partnered with Luna to offer outpatient physical therapy in the convenience of a patient’s home.
Luna currently operates across 48 markets in 27 states and has treated almost 40,000 patients in their homes. In 2022, Luna became the fastest growing physical therapy clinic nationally with6,183 percent growth in visitsduring the four consecutive years since it was founded in 2018. This is higher than any reported growth during the same time frame from any other clinic.