As an orthopedic spine surgeon who performs approximately 500 surgeries a year, my favorite type of patient is the one I never have to see—not even once. The reason for this is that means their musculoskeletal (MSK) issues—any condition or injury affecting joint, bone, tendon or muscle—haven’t progressed to the point where they need to consult with a surgeon.
In recent years, Big Tech has gotten a bad rep. But of course many tech companies are doing important work making monumental positive changes to society, health, and the environment. To highlight these, we started a new interview series about “Technology Making An Important Positive Social Impact”. We are interviewing leaders of tech companies who are creating or have created a tech product that is helping to make a positive change in people’s lives or the environment. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mark Luck Olson.
Mark Luck Olson is CEO of RecoveryOne, a leading digital health innovator dedicated to improving health outcomes for recovery from musculoskeletal (MSK) injuries of all types and reducing costs. Mark is a 30-year healthcare veteran who has committed his career to improving healthcare costs and quality. He has built a reputation as a health tech strategist who can unleash an organization’s potential. He earned his undergraduate and MBA from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sloan School of Business.
Like most visionary leaders, Ann Mond Johnson is adept at identifying trends and emerging technologies. Her ability to see beyond the conventional is what helped propel her reputation as a leader in healthcare technology. Ann has co-founded and has served as president of Subimo LLC; has led the market expansion for Sachs Group as its senior vice president; has counseled ConnectedHealth as its board chair; and most recently has led Zest Health as its CEO.
In her spare time, Ann seeks out experiences that feeds her drive to explore new risks , like skiing in the Swiss Alps, hiking California’s mountainous terrains, or climbing Machu Picchu in Peru.
When she fractured her shoulder while skiing, Ann tackled her injury with the same energy and vigor that any visionary tech leader would. She faced it head on and chose a telerehabilitation platform for her physical therapy.
“The RecoveryOne platform is the epitome of what future consumer health should be,” said Ann. “It’s a health platform that is easy, obvious, and medically sound.”
What makes RecoveryOne innovative is that it gives patients direct access to their recovery plan while collecting and streaming the data to physicians. It also includes reminder “prompts” that are sent to patients’ mobile devices, letting them know about the next physical therapy session.
“I would start my day going through the exercises after I receive an alert each morning,” noted Ann. “I attribute my complete recovery to the platform.”
Another benefit to using the RecoveryOne platform regularly is the ability to help patients reduce their reliance on pain medicines. Ann believes that with regular use, patients can effectively reduce their pain or their risks for re-injury.
While Ann no longer uses the RecoveryOne pathway for her shoulder, she now uses it for her knee.
The American Telemedicine Association has selected Ann as its chief executive officer. She will lead the network of more than 10,000 healthcare executives in advancing healthcare technology to improve quality while remaining cost effective.
When asked how his injury occurred, Brad Stompe of Novato Calif., said “Life just happened.”
“There isn’t one specific incident that led to surgery. My injury was the result of cumulative events, like years of playing football, falling off a mountain bike, and skiing in the winter.”
But what led to Brad finally needing surgery?
“The shoulder pain wasn’t getting any better, and I was having difficulty throwing the ball with our dogs.”
A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test revealed his right shoulder muscle had detached.
Before opting for surgery, Brad went through conventional physical therapy (PT) first. But conventional PT didn’t seem to help. That’s when Dr. Daniel Solomon introduced RecoveryOne.
“What initially appealed to me about the platform is the convenience,” said Brad. “I could work on my rehab on my own schedule and access it anywhere. Additionally, we already own a fair amount of exercise equipment like yoga mats, stretch bands, an exercise ball and a treadmill, so I knew I’d be able to use what I have for my exercise sessions.”
According to Dr. Solomon, other patients have raved about the home rehab program. Cost and convenience were the primary reasons they chose to try RecoveryOne. The doctor also liked the platform’s ability to send him updates of Brad’s rehab progress.
“I’ve had several appointments with Dr. Solomon and he would review my self-evaluation results,” noted Brad. “He’d often say I’m ahead of schedule and recuperating very well.”
“I would work on my rehab exercises every day, and you just can’t do that with conventional therapy,” he exclaimed. “I believe that not missing a single exercise session is a reason why I’ve progressed so quickly.”
Brad’s wife became a fan of the RecoveryOne platform when she saw that Brad could access the sessions on his cell phone while they were on vacation in Switzerland. Brad feels that he’s now able to do the same activities he used to do before surgery—including throwing the ball with his dogs.
Richard (Dick) Bruce loves golf. He’s been playing the sport for more than 40 years. But when he could no longer swing the club without searing shoulder pain, he visited Dr. Robert Eppley.
An MRI showed a massive muscle tear and a rotator cuff injury. Dick and Dr. Eppley talked about combining conventional physical therapy with RecoveryOne shortly after surgery. Dr. Eppley believed that the combination may help accelerate his rehabilitation progress and get him back to playing golf sooner.
What Dick didn’t anticipate was how much he would enjoy the RecoveryOne platform.
“It was like taking my physical therapist with me everywhere I went,” said Dick. “I could access my rehab sessions whenever and wherever I wanted. All I needed to do was log in and start exercising.”
Dick logged in almost every day to access the rehab sessions, remarking at the intuitiveness of the platform.
“If the exercises were too hard, the program would automatically adjust the next rehab session to be slightly easier,” he noted. “In fact, it would even stop allowing me to access the next program and ask me to talk with the doctor if it ‘noticed’ that I was having difficulty. I loved that about RecoveryOne!”
The platform has built in brief self-evaluation questionnaires after each exercise session, which clinically is called patient-reported outcomes measures. These data are used by clinicians to understand how patients are progressing.
“Every time I did a session the platform would ask for feedback,” he said. “Then every few weeks I would get a check point test, which checked my mobility.”
Regular visits with the physical therapist then confirmed Dick’s progress.
“What was interesting to see was that exercises they gave me were limited. The therapist and I noticed that there were more variety of exercises on the RecoveryOne platform.”
Several months later Dick has moved to Bradenton, Fla., and is back to playing golf.
“I’m not 100% yet, but I definitely have most of my mobility back,” he said. “I think that [RecoveryOne] is the future of physical therapy. The ability to do rehabilitation anywhere for significantly less is impressive.”
When Justin Bugarin tore the meniscus in his left knee (the cartilage that cushions the joint), he worried. He loved being a police officer on the SWAT (Special Weapons And Tactics) team, and he wasn’t sure he’d be able to get back to work quickly.
“SWAT officers need to be at their best 100 percent of the time,” said Justin. “We need to be ready to run on concrete, go up and down stairs, and jump when needed—all while carrying an extra 50 to 60 pounds of armor, weapons and tool kits.”
When his left knee grew swollen and didn’t get better, he knew he needed to see a specialist.
He saw Dr. Lesley Anderson who recommended surgery. She also recommended that he use the RecoveryOne platform as part of his rehabilitation. Dr. Anderson specializes in knee and shoulder surgery is a big proponent of telerehabilitation (telerehab), like RecoveryOne. According to Justin, she prescribed RecoveryOne to supplement his conventional physical therapy sessions.
He accessed the platform every day religiously and then shared his results with the physical therapist.
“The therapist is familiar with RecoveryOne, and mentioned that the platform made her job easier,” he noted. “At my PT visits, the therapist would be my progress, correct my form when it was needed, and gave me feedback. She served as my quality control.”
It didn’t take long for Justin’s knee to regain 100% of its function.
“I believe that the Trainer Rx sessions, combined with conventional physical therapy, got me back to where I was before the injury,” he said. “I had achieved 100% mobility within six weeks! I continued my rehab exercises because I wanted to maintain my progress,” he said.
According to Justin there is another an unintended benefit of accessing the RecoveryOne platform every day.
“People who are suddenly not active and unable to work or do many of the basic things, they tend to lose some of their self-assurance,” he said. “Accessing the sessions on RecoveryOne every day gave me a purpose. It gave me a reason to get up and focus on my recovery.”