“We couldn’t exist without the cloud and mobile,” states Veera Anantha, Founder and President of Constant Therapy. The company has developed a sophisticated mobile app that enables stroke and traumatic brain injury (TBI) victims, as well as people with learning disorders, to easily gain ongoing access to accepted therapy exercises. Increasing the amount of usage of these clinically accepted exercises can substantially improve the recovery rates, according to medical experts and various studies.
Helping The Brain – Neural Plasticity
This type of treatment falls under the heading of neural (or neuro) plasticity – the capability of the brain, in response to injury or other changes “to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life” (medicine.net.) The frequent problems for stroke and TBI victims, for example, include impairment of speaking and language skills (including Aphasia – loss of the ability to speak and understand others) as well as impairment of a range of cognitive skills (related to processes of perception, memory, judgment, and reasoning.)
Constant Therapy offers 60 categories of exercises addressing language and cognitive issues, with some 60,000 actual exercises. The categories include items such as: listening comprehension, reading, writing, problem solving, memory and other basic functionality.
The Company’s Big Value Add
The exercises themselves have been developed by experts in the field over many years and are widely accepted. The company does not develop them.
The key challenges for Constant Therapy are that for the app to be used on a wide scale by individuals, both with or without clinical immediate supervision, it must:
a) Present standardized materials – i.e., the exercises – which
b) Are personalized to each individual, and
c) Provide for tracking the progress of each individual, and
d) Also provide a path for the individual to move to more difficult tasks as their proficiency improves.
In addition, the app must be easy for the individual to use and must provide tools for a clinician, therapist or neurologist to monitor the patient’s progress.
The company has met these challenges, first by working with leading centers of brain plasticity expertise, starting with Boston University’s Aphasia Research Center, to secure the accepted treatment exercises. To personalize and track the individual’s experience, the company has developed what it calls its NeuroPerformance Engine.
This analytical engine monitors the patient’s performance. The performance is judged on the user’s accuracy and latency in responding. The engine assigns tasks on an individualized basis, drawing on “global user performance data, current scientific research, and each patient’s performance history and unique brain profile map.” The company states that, with usage, the engine develops this “unique brain profile map” of the user.
Pricing and Market Size
Constant Therapy is offered free to clinicians and at a monthly rate of $19.99 to patients. How big is the market for the app?
The primary marketing emphasis is to reach clinicians, therapists, neurologists, the professionals responsible for these sufferers. As pointed out by the Stroke Center, the victim of a stroke does not necessarily remain a medical “patient” for very long. At some point they typically become just a member of the general population, one who is suffering with certain disabilities.
As Anantha describes it, the therapy professionals generally do an excellent job and are very dedicated, however, there simply is too large of a need, too many people requiring assistance, and not enough resources to go around. While some individuals simply access the app over the web, Anantha states that the overwhelming number of users have originated through professionals who have adopted the service in their practices.
CDC (Centers For Disease Control And Prevention) says there are about 610,000 new stroke victims per year. They estimate that about 1.7 million people sustain TBI each year. Not all of these patients require ongoing treatment. One of the serious consequences of these incidents is Aphasia. The National Aphasia Association estimates that nearly 180,000 acquire this disorder every year.
Building a Unique Data Source
Anantha explains, “We built a skyscraper on the foundation of a lot of science. There’s well-established science on therapies for these conditions, but not a lot of data on what works and how well.”
The company states that it has processed over 20 million completed tasks by users. He emphasizes, “Data is the essence of what our company is.”
As explained above, there is a loop here which involves: 1) making the exercises available to the end user through the app; 2) collecting the data regarding the usage and progress of the users; 3) the back end of analyzing the data and presenting it to the clinician (or adjusting the routines for the user.)
Anantha explains that Constant Therapy maintains a private cloud, which he describes as very sophisticated and highly secure. It must be HIPAA compliant. He states that they track data with a high degree of granularity.
There are numerous drivers for the potential growth of Constant Therapy. Since the system has only been available for about a year, Anantha points out that they are only beginning to scratch the surface for demand among stroke and TBI sufferers.
He says that he “feels good” about the current price. But growth will be promoted by securing insurance reimbursement from more carriers, always a slow, bureaucratic process.
Then there is the international market. While the app can be accessed and used anywhere, it is optimized for the healthcare systems of the U.S. and Canada, and is in English. The company can extend its scope by versions for other countries.
In addition, the number of exercises and treatment variations is a constantly growing subject. He points out that they introduced five new exercises on the app in February 2016.
Then there is the possibility of adding therapies for other illnesses. While Anantha considers the initiatives that are currently underway to be confidential, company spokespersons have mentioned trials or research into use in Alzheimer’s and epilepsy as two possibilities.
Also there is the expansion of the availability of the app on more devices. It can currently be used on iPads and on Android smartphones and tablets. A version for iPhone is slated for later in 2016.
As a generalization, for many of the mobile cloud healthcare apps we’ve covered, the issue is – now that the app works, how sound is the business model for selling and how profitable can it be.
Constant Therapy seems to be an interesting situation. Anyone who has had any experience with a stroke victim, for example, can well understand why the individual and family caregivers would be extremely appreciative of any tools that promise to help improve the sufferer’s condition. At the same time, clinicians are not threatened with displacement by the app, and, if anything, it appears to improve their efficiency and help them deal with generally heavy workloads.
The market for the app, as a commercial product, appears to be, unfortunately in this case, pretty substantial and growing, as aging of populations in most advanced economies will result in more persons with these disabilities.
The primary challenges for Constant Therapy are, first, that its app must constantly be state of the art, as there are several companies working in the general area of brain health and advances can be expected in the coming years. Secondly, it must continue to pursue the avenues for gaining increased reimbursement from insurers for the cost of the therapy.
Visit their website: www.constanttherapy.com