In June, Zimmer Biomet announced that its mymobility with Apple Watch app would add gait metrics to the data it collects on hip and knee replacement patients. While the update is an enhancement to the mymobility remote care patient platform, it represents just one step in the much larger role that data analytics will play for Zimmer Biomet and all of orthopedics moving forward, said Zimmer Biomet's Chief Medical Officer Andrew A. Freiberg, M.D.
“We’re focused on the digital transformation of the patient care journey. Our goal is to be the leader in that,” said Dr. Freiberg. “We’ve had mymobility for almost two years, and we’ve continued research and development of this platform with our partner, Apple. There’s no question that COVID-19 is accelerating this trend of connection and, frankly, consumerism in healthcare.”
mymobility in Application
Zimmer Biomet launched the mymobility app in 2018, providing iPhone-owning patients with the ability to receive pre- and post-op education, activity monitoring and therapy reminders, while their healthcare provider teams could also view and analyze the continuous data.
This fall, mymobility users who are connected with an Apple Watch will gain access to gait metrics to monitor the strength of their stride alongside their step and stair count. Dr. Freiberg likened the addition of gait quality to heart rate variability. Heart rate monitoring is ubiquitous with digital watches on the market, and a highly rated feature for people to track their overall health as well as activity throughout the day.
“People who walk normally have a different score from people who walk with a painful limp or a muscle weakness limp. This can be detected,” Dr. Freiberg said. “Let’s say you come in with a score that’s not good and you have a knee replacement. When you’re recovering, you can literally watch your score improve as your gait improves. We don’t have data on this in large populations yet, but we will quickly, and we’ll be able to see what normal looks like for recovery. We’ll be able to determine what’s important when people need interventions, whether it be a phone call or different or personalized physical therapy. To me, it’s a tremendous advance.”
Data Develops Competitive Edge
Numerous orthopedic companies are betting that the capture of data will glean insight for better surgeon, patient and internal business decisions. Enabling technologies and digital tools – everything from robotic-assisted systems in the operating room to wearable sensors – remain in early generations. As the technology advances, these real-time tools will likely feed powerful predictive analytics models. For patients, this use of data meets the desire for personalized or customized healthcare. For surgeons, it provides benchmarks and new tools to track their performance as well as their patients’ recovery. For device companies, predictive analytics becomes part of their product arsenal as they seek to add services that stand out from competitors.
Orthopedic companies remain at the early stages of launching data-driven tools, let alone integrating data from their technology back into their strategies. Zimmer Biomet hopes to be the first to develop predictive analytics that connects pre-, intra- and post-operative data. Its OrthoIntel Orthopedic Intelligence Platform gathers data throughout the patient care cycle. In product terms, OrthoIntel captures data from mymobility and its ROSA robotic-assisted system in one place to better understand clinical insights throughout the entire episode of care.
“What does that mean?” said Dr. Freiberg. “In the not too far distant future, we’ll be able to say that a 52-year-old person with characteristics, like a certain deformity or certain body mass index, is best served by a robotic procedure that puts the knee into a certain position with one degree of tibia vara. That should be followed by specific physical therapy, focusing on passive extension. They may only need physical therapy twice a week for two weeks, and then can do self-directed therapy.
“We’re going to be able to correlate the preoperative state, intraoperative technique and method, and the postoperative recovery—all of that data is connected as part of OrthoIntel. The idea is to allow surgeons and care teams insights into their patient’s disease and their recovery.”
The Future of Data in Orthopedics
Our ever-connected, digital world and the possibility of decreasing risk in clinical decision making is expected to push the adoption of data in orthopedics. An appetite for the data is there, Dr. Freiberg said, noting that the successful use of this data can open orthopedics to knowledge that remains unthinkable today.
“The collection of data from patients and the procedure will ultimately lead to insights that we haven’t seen before,” he said. “We will have insights into best care and best practices, and that’s why it’s particularly exciting.”
The obstacles that remain in front of orthopedic companies include which data will have the most impact, how best to capture that data and how to make it meaningful for users.
In conjunction with the launch of mymobility in 2018, Zimmer Biomet commenced a U.S. clinical study to investigate the app’s impact on patient outcomes and overall patient costs. With up to 10,000 enrollees, the clinical study is expected to be one of the largest evidence-gathering clinical studies in orthopedic history. Data from the study will be available later this year.
Carolyn LaWell is ORTHOWORLD’s Chief Content Officer.