Digitalisation is a key trend within UK health insurance, with remote, virtual appointments becoming critical in reducing NHS waiting times. By applying this approach to physiotherapy, Ascenti is strongly positioning itself to partner with private medical insurers.
GlobalData’s 2018 UK Insurance Consumer Survey found that 26% of respondents looked for physiotherapy and 17.5% wanted outpatient physiotherapy when choosing a private medical insurance policy. Both features were among the top 10 most sought after by respondents when selecting private medical insurance. Clearly, insurers in this space need to ensure physiotherapy is adequately offered as part of their plan.
This shows the potential of PhysioNow, an app launched in July 2019 by Ascenti (a provider of physiotherapy treatment recognised by Bupa, Vitality, and many more). The app aims to revolutionise treatment of musculoskeletal (MSK) injuries by providing digital triaging of ailments, virtual consultations, and tailored exercise programmes with guided videos of stretches/movements from approved Ascenti clinicians.
The app also tracks progress, allowing both the patient and the physiotherapist to monitor changes. This means treatment can be adjusted accordingly without the need for a face-to-face visit – although this can be organised if required.
Insurers with policies including access to this PhysioNow app are likely to see an increase in popularity. The service addresses consumers’ needs as highlighted in our survey data above, as it offers physiotherapy features to consumers around the clock. The fact that Public Health England reported that 16.9% of the UK population suffer from back pain – with between 60% and 80% of the population expected to have it at some point in their life – only emphasises the potential size of the market.
And at a time when the NHS budget is ever tightening, many patients with MSK injuries may wait extended periods of time for treatment if they do not have access to private healthcare. PhysioNow makes physiotherapy more convenient for and accessible to consumers. It will also reduce running costs for Ascenti, as it will allow the company to reduce its geographical footprint as more of its services become digitalised. This is likely to set a precedent in both the private medical insurance and healthcare industries. Insurers may now look to partner with healthcare providers offering some form of digital treatment service not only for physiotherapy, but for other forms of treatment as the technology develops.
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