Robert Wood Johnson Medical School partners with Yoomi to trial new physical therapy method
On January 5, Yoomi, a digital health company, announced a partnership with Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (RWJMS), according to a press release.
Yoomi’s primary focus is on making physical therapy more accessible, and it aims to improve the outcomes of at-home physical therapy. The company uses advanced technology and artificial intelligence to track patients' exercise performance in order to improve health outcomes and patient participation, according to the release.
Dr. Jay Naik, an assistant professor in the Department of Medicine, said the partnership between Yoomi and RWJMS formed when he saw the company at a healthcare hackathon event while visiting Yale University last year.
"I met the group Yoomi (there) as they were presenting their software technology solution for physical therapy," he said. "They developed a software that can track motion so that physical therapists can assign exercises and the patient can use any device ... The computer would correct them or watch how many repetitions they do."
While Yoomi’s primary design is focused on outpatient physical therapy, after agreeing to participate with RWJMS, new software was developed to have an in-patient physical therapy focus, Naik said. The trial with Yoomi will focus solely on how effectively the product works with in-patient improvement in mobility.
Dr. Ibiyonu Lawrence, an associate professor in the Department of Medicine who specializes in geriatric medicine, said the trial would target patients older than 65 because they are the most vulnerable age group. In the future, the idea is to use this technology to cover all patients, including patients who have undergone surgery.
"Yoomi ... shows (patients) a range of exercises that have been tried and tested. The exercises are based in research that has shown that these particular movements are very good for improving and maintaining mobility," she said.
As the patient improves, the exercises will increase in difficulty, which will help maintain the mobility levels of the patient, Lawrence said.
The partnership's pilot program is assisted by volunteers, including undergraduate students from RWJMS, and supervised by a nurse coordinator. Lawrence said the volunteers would assist the patients in correctly operating the device for this trial.
Yoomi’s technology will be tested for in-patient care in order to tackle the understaffing of physical therapists in hospitals. Since patients are often unable to get regular physical therapy care, many have extra complications due to a lack of mobility that leads to an extended stay, Naik said.
"In the hospital, what we see is that patients come in for, let's say, a heart attack. A few days in, they’re lying in bed the whole time, and they get treated for the heart attack, but in a week in, a 70-year-old who has been lying in bed for several days becomes pretty weak," he said.
The time the patients spend being immobile and recovering causes rapid muscle degeneration, increases the patient’s medical bills and calls for more healthcare workers, Naik said.
The patient would likely need to go to a rehabilitation center, and the transferring process would require them to stay in bed longer, he said. This causes the cost to build up for both the patient and the hospital, which could be easily remedied by in-patient physical therapy.
Patients who are able to recover from their treatment quicker and have fewer complications in the hospital see more improvement in the long term, Naik said. Additional services and disabilities acquired during hospital stays affect the long-term outcome of a patient’s health.
"Healthcare, as a field, is slow to adopt technology," Naik said. "If we adopt technology that can reduce the (number) of resources we need — I think everyone would want something like that."