For the last 18 months, many of us have been working from home under less than ideal conditions, doubling the number of employees suffering from back, shoulder or limb problems
Whether working from home or returning to the office, this new ‘pain pandemic’ is predicted to impact on business performance, resulting in lost work hours and reduced productivity.
But Edinburgh healthtech company PhysioMedics has come to the rescue of both workers and employers with PhysioWizard, a self-assessment tool that employees with muscle and joint (MSK) problems complete online in just 10 minutes.
Rather than waiting for a GP appointment, the platform screens medical and MSK symptoms and signposts them to the recommended healthcare provider or service, providing advice and exercises to support wellness in the workplace.
“While working from home, we’ve all been guilty of slumping over the laptop on the kitchen table, sitting for hours on a chair designed for eating, not typing,” says PhysioMedics founder and chief clinical officer Kirsten Lord.
“Months of working with poor ergonomics and bad habits have had a major impact on people’s physical health.
“The scale of this issue makes it difficult for employers to manage effectively with traditional healthcare models.
“As a digital tool, PhysioWizard is a cost-effective solution that supports employers and empowers employees to recover quickly.”
A chartered physiotherapist with more than 30 years’ experience, Kirsten founded The Physio Centres in Edinburgh and Glasgow in 1992.
In 2010, Kirsten founded PhysioMedics™ to create PhysioWizard®, an intuitive MSK online triage system providing instant advice and onward treatment plans, ranging from individualised self-management exercises to more detailed consultations with healthcare professionals.
The platform supports corporate wellness programmes, and improves operational efficiencies in a range of national healthcare providers such as Nuffield Health.
The assessment is in the process of being piloted by the NHS, with a view to supporting stretched services and waiting lists.
PhysioWizard accelerated its corporate market strategy with a £250,000 loan from the Scottish Government and UMi Debt Finance Scotland.
The loan scheme, supported under the Scottish Growth Scheme, is designed to help Scottish businesses innovate, grow and diversify.
Kirsten explained the importance of the loan: “The pandemic really pushed the development of digital health forward by years, and the support we received from UMi helped us to expand our business model to include a health and wellness offering to corporates.”
Tom Brock, UMi Debt Finance Scotland Fund Director, says PhysioWizard has short and long-term benefits for companies: “The benefits of a healthy workforce are obvious. We lose nearly 7m working days every year because of muscle and joint disorders.
“In addition, a longer-term consideration, and one that should be ringing alarm bells for some employers, is the potential for employee lawsuits against employers which haven’t taken sufficient care of their staffs’ health during the pandemic, leading to a serious work-related injury.”
“For every PhysioWizard assessment taken, one less is needed by the NHS, which is already so overburdened – so it’s a win win for us all,” says Kirsten.
Back muscle and joint pain is one of the most pressing challenges facing UK companies.
Statistics show that 6.9m working days are lost due to muscle and joint disorders in the UK every year with an average of 14 days lost for each individual case.
At the same time, individuals coming to work with an affliction and therefore with lower productivity, has been estimated to cost 10 times that of absenteeism.
Damage inflicted during working life can continue long into the future, making it doubly important that steps are taken at an early stage to limit work-related injuries.