BioZen Smartphone Application
By Jean Darling, PT, LAT
According to InMedica, the telehealth market is predicted to grow by 55% worldwide in 2013.1 This growth rate is based on the number of devices available to individuals and on service revenues. These facts can be difficult to swallow by someone like me, who did not grow up with a computer, did not use one during college, and did not even use one during my first 10 years of practice. With the continual barrage of new applications and technology that are conducive to improving our daily efficiency as physical therapists, I now find that I am unable to ignore these technological developments as they relate to our profession. I am forced to go along for the technological ride or abandon ship!
This year, I had resolved to become smart phone savvy. As I started to work on this goal, I came across the Department of Defense’s new biofeedback application. Developed to help service members access the therapeutic benefits of biofeedback, the app uses wireless sensors to show users their physical level of relaxation. According to the information I gathered, it is the first portable, low-cost application for clinicians and patients to use biofeedback in and out of the clinic. BioZen shows real-time data from multiple body sensors. While free for Android devices, users do need to purchase compatible medical sensors to use the application.
Although it appears that this application was developed for stress reduction, I can see how it could be used in the practice of pelvic floor physical therapy. The current sensors range in price, depending on quality. The cost of compatible sensors ranges from $75 to $150, which is similar to the price my clients are currently paying for sensors. However, in addition to the sensor cost, they need either to purchase or rent the device or machine to use at home. Not only is this more costly, but it is also takes more time to receive the device. However, the company does not list on their webpage the type of sensors I use in biofeedback for my practice.
Having our patients use the smart phones they already own to aid their therapy would seem to make good business sense, and since many private practitioners have multiple locations, using a single application, rather than purchasing multiple devices to operate at different locations, would be cost effective.
My recent smart phone purchase has lead me to explore new worlds, and I this application can be enhanced for use in pelvic floor physical therapy and to address the other musculoskeletal mishaps we find in our practices. If these enhancements are available, they could be offered as another option for up training or down training muscle, greatly improving access to care for our patients.
Ease of access for our patients would most likely lead to improved patient adherence and better outcomes.
Jean Darling, PT, LAT, is an Impact editorial board member and co-owner and vice president of Advanced Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine with 6 locations in Wisconsin. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.