Winner 2016: SimpleTherapy

The Challenge

In addition to pain, gradual musculoskeletal deterioration leads to falls and fall-related injuries in the elderly population. Falls and related injuries cause five times more hospitalization than other injuries to the elderly. One out of every three elderly persons experiences a fall each year, and of those who fall, one in three suffers an injury requiring treatment. When an injury occurs, the average cost of treatment is significant (USD21-35'000). For seniors, it is actually the main cause of death after chronic diseases. Ongoing physical therapy has been the most consistently proven method to substantially reduce the likelihood of fall and fractures. The problem with traditional physical therapy is that it is too expensive for a retiree with a basic pension and transport is often difficult to organize. People therefore tend to go to community centres, where they do very generic exercises that may not be tailored to their specific needs.

The Solution

SimpleTherapy consists of an online platform which allows individual users to perform physical rehabilitation exercises anywhere and any time by watching series of personalized and adaptive videos. The innovative quality lies in the fact that it uses artificial intelligence to assess the needs of the users. It generates a series of exercises that are specifically tailored to their needs, by taking into account the user’s feedback as to whether the exercise was too easy, appropriate or too hard and their pain levels. This facilitates fully tailored and consistently evolving batches of exercises, as if a real physiotherapist were giving the instructions in real time.

SimpleTherapy currently offers 18 physical rehabilitation modules, each covering specific body joints with a focus on musculoskeletal pain. It is also developing a specific Falls and Fracture Prevention Program (FFPP) targeting people aged 65 and older. While the team is relatively far advanced in developing the FFPP, it still needs to complete the database of exercises, tape the videos and conduct a clinical trial to refine the program. It will then be able to launch pilots with insurance providers – many of which have already shown an interest in this program.

Business model and commercial strategy

SimpleTherapy currently targets insurance companies, large employers, accountable care organizations (ACOs), third-party administrators (TPAs) and federal government. SimpleTherapy also sells directly to consumers online but this will remain a sideline activity until the brand becomes more visible for retail distribution (eg in bundles with some equipment or medication). The D2C price is USD 180 following a clear value proposition: clients receive one year of unlimited SimpleTherapy for the price of one session of physiotherapy. The team expects that SimpleTherapy will be relevant and accepted by only a few percent of the total population covered by these payers or care providers. Their success will therefore be dependent on closing deals with the top 10 players in the industry. The company has already run a number of scientific and commercial trials, also with large players who have confirmed their interest in rolling out the product on a larger scale.