Wisconsin startups partner to offer hospitals remote physical therapy system for joint replacement

Kiio sensor--Courtesy of Kiio

Physical therapy both before and after joint replacement surgery can make the procedure--which is increasingly common in wealthy countries as populations age and grow heavier--go more smoothly and reduce associated costs. A pair of startups, patient care company Wellbe and physical therapy automation startup Kiio, have come up with a remote monitoring system that combines software and a hand-held device to offer a range of more than 1,500 templates for physical therapy exercises.

The program is expected to enable patients to be able to more effectively execute physical therapy before and after surgery on their own, thereby potentially improving their surgical outcomes. The system is based on the Kiio Flex software with the exercise templates that are integrated with the Kiio Sensor, a hand-held, portable wireless device that measures and calculates metrics of complex muscle function.

The system incorporates Wellbe's patient engagement software, which it has shown can help hospitals achieve an 85% completion rate for pre- and post- surgery regimens. It walks patients through the exercises including a precise communication that includes range of motion, timing and force targets. The idea is that the hand-held sensor data allows a physical therapist to better track and assess patients.

"Studies show that use of preoperative physical therapy in total joint replacement yields a 29% decrease in post-acute care needs, resulting in up to $1,200 savings in the average cost of the episode of care," said Kiio CEO Dave Grandin in a statement. "The combination of Kiio and Wellbe is a perfect fit to mitigate risk and improve care consistent with the new Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement (CJR) Model mandated by Medicare to start April 1, 2016."

Both these startups are based in Madison, WI. Founded in 2009, coordinated care provider Wellbe has raised only about $5 million in cash and debt according to SEC filings. For its part, Kiio was founded in 2011 by former collegiate heavyweight boxer Bobby Hinds to rationalize and improve the monitoring of physical and occupational therapy. It's raised about $8.5 million in cash and debt, according to SEC filings.

Nonprofit Wisconsin hospital network UW Health offered a statement of support for the partners.

Added Wellbe CEO James Dias, "Recent research published at a prominent orthopedic surgeon meeting showed that therapist prescribed in-home exercise routines are highly effective when adhered to. Collaborating with Kiio allows us to offer the market a best-of-breed hybrid solution for hospitals looking to reduce their costs for post-acute care in value-based payment models."

- here is the announcement