The news: Google is developing a virtual therapy program for healthcare providers with digital musculoskeletal (MSK) care startup Include Health—and the duo already scored ProMedica Health System as their first partner to deploy the tech.
The platform, dubbed MSK-OS, uses AI to track patients’ poses and monitor if they’re performing physical therapy exercises correctly by calculating their pose measurements via a camera on the patient’s computer or cell phone. The platform can then deliver prescriptive care insights that providers can use to guide care.
Why it’s worth watching: AI-driven image analysis isn’t anything new in the digital musculoskeletal care world, but unlike most virtual physical therapy solutions on the market, Include Health and Google are targeting healthcare providers as customers.
The opportunity: Among specialty care types, physical therapy has some of the lowest rates of telehealth usage currently—but considering the market size of MSK care and the medical cost burden of chronic pain, it’s a space more virtual care companies should consider expanding into.
Most virtual physical therapy solutions on the market are being offered by MSK digital therapeutics (DTx) companies, but more telehealth players should leverage their existing patient populations and step into the virtual physical therapy market—projected to be worth over $9 billion by 2027, per Fortune Business Insights.
Plus, like mental health appointments, patients have to make physical therapy appointments regularly to experience positive changes in their health—which would create a consistent revenue stream for telehealth companies that decide to move in on the space.
The cost of chronic pain: