At PeerWell, we want to help people suffering with pain and immobility get better faster. In order to fulfill our mission and reach as many people as possible, we knew that we had to change the way we treat patients. Not only did we need to provide care for the whole person, but we needed new tools to empower people to manage their pain from the comfort of home.
For Jeffrey Greenberg, Vice President of Technology at PeerWell, our mission to reduce America’s pain and mobility problem was best solved through—you guessed it–technology. Specifically, by tapping into the powerful technology that already exists within the smartphone and reframing how it can be used to steer a patient’s recovery.
In wanting to make care as low-barrier and accessible as possible, all of PeerWell’s powerful tech that is used to collect accurate measurements can be done with just the phone. Advances in AI (machine learning), phone sensors, and innovative tech allowed us to unlock accurate self-measurements performed by the patient without any additional hardware. This means the patient never needs to strap hardware onto themselves (or deal with charging and configuring) to get cutting-edge healthcare.
To discuss what makes PeerWell and our patented SMART Motion™ technology so powerful and unique, we sat down to chat with Jeff Greenberg, VP of Engineering.
Check out the full interview below!
Q:What exactly is PeerWell’s Smart Motion™?
JG: Smart Motion™ is our set of technologies that enable patients to record clinically accurate measurements of their body’s movement. PeerWell’s SMART Motion™ leverages technology that is already built into smartphones, like sensors and cameras.
For example, people can measure their knee flexion or shoulder abduction with just their smartphone and the PeerWell app. It was important to us that no clunky straps or additional hardware would ever be required. Everything needed to accurately measure range of motion or even detect a trip and fall hazard in their home is built right into the phone, enabled through our app.
Q: What are the different technologies that fall under PeerWell’s Smart Motion™ suite?
JG: We have four technologies under our SMART Motion™ brand: Home Assessment , Range of Motion, Coach, and Diagnostics. Each of them fit our mission of helping people reduce pain and safely recovery from home.
SMART Motion™ Home Assessment is designed to help you reduce fall risks, something especially critical after an injury and after surgery. It uses your phone’s camera and our patented Trip & Fall Hazard Detector to identify risks within the house, like a loose rug, uneven flooring, and everyone’s problem: clutter. These risks are flagged and you are instructed on how to correct them.
SMART Motion™ Range of Motion enables you to track your recovery progress by accurately measuring your knee or shoulder mobility throughout recovery. All you have to do is hold your phone, bend your joint, and scan the area. From here, our app can determine your range of motion with the same level of accuracy as an in-person Physical Therapist. The measures are also recorded and shared with your care team.
SMART Motion™ Coach is like having a personal trainer in your own home. It guides you through physical therapy exercises and measures movement to assess, correct, and track progress against your routine. You no longer need to waste time going to your Physical Therapist just to know if you are doing your exercises correctly, or to identify issues.
SMART Motion™ Diagnostics will remove the need for some costly specialist visits or procedures like advanced imaging to diagnose conditions. Through the use of our app, we are able to collect data that has never been collected before, and are building an AI that can interpret that data. Soon we will be able to track how your body moves to diagnose conditions, predict abnormalities, pinpoint pain areas, and even improve recovery time. With this technology we can identify patient issues faster and do it with less effort by the care team.
Q: What’s the driving force behind building better technology to help patients from home?
JG: Even before the pandemic, there was a shift in digital healthcare to serve patients at home. There was the question of: how can we empower people to get healthier between doctor’s appointments on their own?
We needed objective health measures as well as the less precise answers patient’s give in questionnaires. The information a patient reports, like their pain level, is essential but adding in accurate, easy-to-access technology that measures your physical body is needed to improve overall patient care. Our SMART Motion™ technology collects a lot of data and information that can actually advance healthcare.
I have a background in ultrasound imaging with patents related to making these images sharper, so I knew that it was possible to have the patient make highly precise measurements of their body with just a phone. I think enabling people to make medically useful measurements of themselves is profound and will advance medicine. These accurate measurements, like range of motion or predictive pain reporting, can actually influence the care the patient receives in real-time. We’re able to personalize the exercises and information we give to patients, share health alerts with their care teams, and even identify unusual pain intensity and deliver pain management at key points in recovery.
Q: Why was it important that everything be built into the app and phone? Like having no straps or extra hardware required?
JG: Even the smallest barriers can be a deterrent—especially when we’re in pain or not feeling one hundred percent. The number of people who skip a gym workout just because it is raining is astonishing! We needed something that was very easy to use for people of all ages. We wanted to offer our patients real insights into their progress to motivate them on their path to recovery.
I’ve worked with sensors, like we use in our SMART Motion™ suite, and knew we could leverage the sensors in everyday smartphones to achieve this goal. Our technology combines our AI with the phones gyroscopes, accelerometers, cameras, microphones, and processing power. We use machine learning, image recognition, cameras, and audio to detect movement. All together, with just a smartphone, we are able to determine where the user is and what their body is doing with high precision.
We can get a lot done, and improve the delivery of healthcare by getting creative and innovating on what’s already there. External devices are a pain. You have to wait for them to be shipped to you, figure out how to properly set them up, sync them, and so on. It’s clunky. So, every time you’re supposed to do your exercises you have a whole litany of excuses not to, or it’ll simply fail due to all the added widgets.
Alternatively, how often are you without your phone? Likely not very often. So, with PeerWell, there are fewer barriers and excuses—this matters a lot.
Our goal of never relying on external devices made us determined to make the phone’s built-in tech as usable as possible. All of our SMART Motion™ technology is local on the phone. We’re really the first to do this. This has proven to be very important for privacy and real-time performance.
Q: What are you most proud of in the SMART Motion™ suite?
JG: I’m proud of all of the elements that we reimagined to create totally new tech. We leveraged accelerometers and motion sensing with applications of AI, and we’ve made some clever innovations to the AI itself. We’ve used the phone’s camera and machine learning to assess and understand movement. We’ve adopted image recognition to look at hazards in the home. We have patients measuring their own therapeutic motion—motion that has never been measured outside of a lab! Our voice-guided, interactive coach can tell how someone is moving and give tips or make physical therapy corrections in real-time.
Altogether, we’ve built a robust technology suite—SMART Motion™—that has the power to reshape how musculoskeletal issues can be treated, reported, and diagnosed from home.
Are you a patient looking for guidance and care for pain, an injury, or facing musculoskeletal surgery? Register below to become a PeerWell patient and access a SMART Motion™ enabled recovery.