How doctors across America are helping us evolve digital health
Once a week, I’m at a clinic in Palo Alto working with veterans. Jim (name changed), an Army veteran, came in on Friday. He looked at least a decade older than the age of 51 on his chart. Jim said to me,
“Doc, I need a stronger prescription. My back is killing me. I’m tossing and turning and I’m getting in trouble for missing so much work.”
His hair had greyed. His shoulders were hunched. All from the chronic back pain plaguing him for years.
Jim’s story parallels a common challenge that many clinicians like me face. A traditional doctor’s visit lacks the tools and time to fully guide patients to manage their chronic back or joint pain. While we often prescribe a course of physical therapy, many patients either don’t go to PT or don’t do their home exercises, so in the end, we often resort to drugs, procedures, and surgery. As COVID-19 limits access to primary care, we see another barrier added to traditional physical therapy treatment. This is where digital health solutions can support physicians to fill a common gap in inpatient care; namely, they provide ongoing guidance and education when a patient is outside the doctor’s office.
AAFP and Hinge Health Partner to Advance Digital Health
Let’s shift gears to my professional role as the Chief Medical Officer of Hinge Health. We wanted to bring more clinicians into this conversation of developing digital solutions to improve patient care, which is how we came to partner with the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). AAFP is the leading professional organization for family physicians, with over 130,000 members. We are partnering with them to jointly explore how family physicians can and should use digital health to deliver best-practice care to patients.
At Hinge Health, we are excited to partner with AAFP, a long-time national leader in health information technology. For years, the Academy has spearheaded digital health initiatives. Some example initiatives include forming the Center for Health Information Technology (CHIT), in 2003, to drive adoption and implementation of electronic health records (EHR) which has contributed to over 90% of family physicians using EHRs today. The AAFP sponsors a Primary Care Innovation Fellowship to support projects that improve the usability and utility of health IT for family medicine. And, just last year, the Academy launched AAFP Virtual Care to bring telemedicine to physician practices.
Hinge Health Presents Clinical Outcomes at AAFP’s Largest Conference
This week, Hinge Health presented how at-home digital care reduces chronic low back pain, disability, and likelihood to have surgery at Family Medicine Experience (FMX), the AAFP’s largest annual family medicine event. Results from this 12-week, 177-participant randomized control study was originally published in Nature Digital Medicine.
Hinge Health’s 12-week, 177-participant study outcomes included:
- 62% reduction in low back pain, which is 4x the pain reduction of opioids
- Cost savings from avoiding surgery interest by 52%, compared to a 53% increase in the control group
- 55% decrease in disability
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Dr. Krauss is Hinge Health’s Chief Medical Officer. He graduated from Harvard College, earned his Medical degree from UC San Francisco School of Medicine, and completed his residency in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at Stanford University. He is a Clinical Assistant Professor at Stanford University in the Department of Orthopedics, and he continues to practice as a part-time Staff Physician at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System.