Leveraging technology to relieve pain points

Photo by Jesper Aggergaard

While many associate physiotherapy with recovery from injury, those without it may also benefit from practitioners’ in-depth knowledge of how the body works. And while hands-on treatment continues to be a part of the practice, “holistic, high-quality physiotherapy aims to help people understand and make sense of their pain and to provide them with strategies to self-manage their condition,” says Michelle du Plessis, Specialist Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist, Body Logic Physiotherapy, Joondalup.

The industry, like many others, has seen the need to digitalise, particularly with the current COVID-19 pandemic. Says Bidhan Roy, Managing Director, Small Business, Asia Pacific, Japan and China, Cisco, “the effect of digitalization on the speed of change, delivery and operations has made it a clear differentiator among small and medium businesses (SMBs).”

“While SMBs have generally been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, the pandemic provided an unprecedented opportunity for digital adopters to pull ahead in the race to adapt, recover and thrive.”

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One such company is Body Logic Physiotherapy, Joondalup, who had worked with Cisco on their digitalisation journey prior to the pandemic. According to Du Plessis, their motivations for starting on this course included their caseload, which often involved complex and persistent pain presentations that are referred to us from pain specialists after they have seen patients.

Accessing ongoing management and rehabilitation can often be challenging for these patients because of their locality, inability or difficulty to attend appointments due to pain, and the lack of rehabilitation services where they live,” she shares.

“Digitalisation has always been part of Body Logic Physiotherapy, Joondalup’s strategic planning as the need for this has gradually become more pronounced.”

Our strategy has been to identify safe, secure, and user-friendly digital platforms to offer individual consultations and group sessions on, train administrative and clinical staff to be digitally-savvy, and develop online consultation methods which are made accessible to referrers such as GPs, specialists and insurers, as well as their clients.

Accelerated change during the pandemic

As has been frequently noted, the onset of COVID-19 has made SMBs more aware of the importance of digitalization and are noticeably renewing their efforts to embrace digital transformation.

According to Cisco’s 2020 Asia Pacific SMB Digital Maturity Study, 94 percent of SMBs in Asia Pacific said they had become more reliant on technology to ensure business continuity during COVID-19, while nearly 70 percent were accelerating the digitalization of their businesses because of it. Body Logic Physiotherapy, Joondalup was no exception, with the pandemic resulting in them “fast-tracking” their plans, shares Du Plessis. 

Cybersecurity in a digital world

As with any sector that deals with their client’s personal information, security is a key concern. Roy reminds us that in a digital world, “Reinforcing cybersecurity gives SMBs more confidence to handle customer data and streamline their processes without making themselves more vulnerable to hackers, especially in an age where nearly all information is now stored or exchanged digitally.

For Body Logic Physiotherapy, Joondalup, Cisco Meraki benefitted them as a centralised unit that manages the internet security of our computers and laptops from a centralised dashboard. “This was essential to ensure the privacy and security of our client and clinic information,” says Du Plessis.

“To date, we have not had any breaches or concerns. The new upgraded system has provided us with excellent wireless internet access anywhere in the practice and from any device.”

Beyond securing communications, digitalisation can also assist in the physical security of businesses. Says Du Plessis, “we have had to plan for a possible second wave of COVID-19 – some of this involved planning the flow of people in the clinic to ensure physical distancing to keep our clients and employees safe. The new indoor Cisco Meraki security camera, which is positioned centrally in the clinic, is very useful here as it provides us with a 360-degree view of our clients in the gym as well as visitors to and from the treatment rooms and the clinic.”

Achieving business resiliency

According to Roy, the COVID-19 induced technology dependency has resulted in SMBs rethinking their processes, operations, and customer engagements to ensure business continuity and resiliency.

“With COVID-19 and as economies open up, Cisco’s study found that SMBs are focusing on delivering improved customer experience (16%) and launching new products and services to help in recovery (15%), when asked for their top digitalization priorities,” he adds.

Leveraging technology allows SMBs to address the need for personalization and deliver new experiences, as part of the new normal, thereby developing resiliency. At the same time, he notes that cloud services is currently the number one digitalization investment priority among SMBs because of its flexibility and scalability.

“The ability to quickly provision resources as the business grows – without incurring prohibitive costs or being tied to a physical server location – is a valuable reinforcement to business resiliency.”

With the impact of COVID-19 being so profound, their digitalisation efforts have helped Body Logic Physiotherapy, Joondalup respond quickly. Shares Du Plessis, “Digitalisation has helped us continue providing care to our clients. Expanding digitalisation was part of our strategic planning prior to COVID-19. However, we had to fast-track the process in a very short period, which was challenging.

“We decided to close our clinic for two weeks in the initial stages of the lockdown in Perth. Once we returned to the clinic, we continued to provide our clients with the opportunity/choice of making telehealth appointments. 

“At Body Logic Physiotherapy, Joondalup, we are fortunate as many of our physiotherapists utilise an approach called “cognitive functional therapy” which is a mind-body physiotherapy treatment for disabling back pain and many other conditions such as shoulder, hip and knee pain. This approach helps people to understand and make sense of their pain and get back to living again. Our experience has been that this approach works very well in telehealth.

“We also have several clients that are in rehabilitation and pain management programmes. Telehealth enabled us to stay in touch and assist them to continue working towards their health goals and ultimately, their recovery.

Bouncing back with agility

“Despite SMBs being hardest hit by the current crisis, they are also expected to be the fastest to bounce back because of their agility, adaptability to innovate and their newfound willingness to embrace technology,” says Roy. “This trend will be crucial to economic recovery.”

“There is significant benefit to helping SMBs digitalize as they contribute to almost 50 percent of Singapore’s GDP and employ 65 percent of its workforce,” he reminds us. “The digitalization of SMBs could add US$23 to US$24 billion to Singapore’s GDP and US$2.6 to 3.1 trillion to Asia Pacific’s GDP by 2024, playing a key role in both the country and the region’s economic resurgence post COVID-19.” With these in mind, helping them overcome their struggles – primarily linked to the lack of digital skills and technologies – is an important task. 

Meanwhile, physiotherapy itself has evolved from solely relying on hands-on treatment, shares Du Plessis. “Holistic, high-quality physiotherapy aims to help people understand and make sense of their pain and to provide them with strategies to self-manage their condition.”

“Digitalisation has provided us with the opportunity to make this care available to more people via telehealth consultations.”

With these in mind, Body Logic Physiotherapy, Joondalup, is looking at building a more structured approach to their digitalisation efforts, looking to offer online group pain management and rehabilitation programs online. They also plan to reach out, promote and provide care and education to more remote locations across Australia.