The Physiotherapy Paradox: A Doctor’s Word is Only as Good as the Patient’s Trust
November 8, 2022
“Oh, I can’t take it anymore!”, “This pain is tearing me apart!” , “Please help me feel better doctor.”
These are just a few of the lines that physiotherapists have to listen to on a daily basis. Looking at this, you would imagine that a patient would follow anything that a doctor prescribes them to do right? If only that were true.
Studies suggest that roughly 80% of patients don’t follow up on a doctor’s consultation after the first sitting. Even among those who do, the dropout rate mid-treatment is a staggering ~74%. About 14% even miss showing up for their very first appointment. Patients’ adherence to physiotherapeutic treatment is as indispensable as a therapist’s expert diagnosis. While there are many reasons for the lack of adherence, we’d like to highlight the major ones.
The average cost of a physiotherapy session in India ranges from Rs. 250 – 1,500. Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? But then think of the bigger picture. For some patients, the frequency of a session can be around 3 times a week, meaning it may cost somewhere between Rs. 750 – 4,500 per week! In a country where the household income to be the top 10% of the richest is a mere Rs. 25,000 per month, physiotherapy is a luxury for most.
However, patient non-adherence can’t just be blamed on the cost. Another important reason is the fragile trust between the patient and the clinician. Physiotherapy clinics in India are very busy, with clinicians examining up to 4 patients in an hour. While this is a brilliant business model to run, patients struggle to make an emotional connection with their clinicians. No matter how accurately a physio identifies a subject’s issue, it is almost of no use if the patient fails to go through with the course of treatment.
Research shows that when a patient drops out of a treatment course, not only does their physical health deteriorate, but it also affects their mental health. Increased episodes of anxiety and depression are common outcomes of this problem. A few causes for such trends are financial and time constraints of patients. However, a lesser-known factor that plays a deciding role in a patient’s adherence, is their trust in the treatment.
A problem unique to physiotherapy, there are not many visual indicators of a subject’s progress in health or vitals. While they start feeling better gradually, the uncertainty in getting to that stage is where most patients lose hope. This is exactly why data-driven physiotherapy is the need of the hour. The capability of quantifying a subject’s musculoskeletal parameters will hugely aid their trust as well as a therapist’s treatment.
With smart treatment technologies and positive patient adherence, a spike in the patient’s health is inevitable. Statistics report a 6%-8% rise in treatment success rates for patients who go through at least eight physiotherapy sessions. Another reason why we need technologically aided monitoring systems is the lack of clarity among physicians regarding the statistical tools to be used. A research paper pointed out that 58% of the manual tools being used by physicians to monitor patient vitals were inefficient and improper. Undoubtedly, the scope for improvement in the field of data-driven physiotherapy is immense.
Cue in Ashva Wearable Technologies. With a vision to decentralize and democratize musculoskeletal healthcare, we at Ashva provide world-class physiotherapy monitoring devices at affordable rates. Our advanced, precise, and compact equipment aid physicians in monitoring their patients with accuracy and ease. Seeing their musculoskeletal parameters properly measured and charted as in the case of a blood test, a confidence boost to the patients is guaranteed.
So next time a troubled patient comes to you not knowing what to expect, provide them the Ashvas of Ashva!