By Kendon Howard
The future isn’t coming—it’s arriving at an incredible pace! Technology and the data it can supply have reshaped the planet and those who fail to adopt it will be left in the dust. The need for objective data in treatment decisions will become mandatory both by payers and patients alike. Objective data—drawn not just from clinical trials, but from real world evidence—will standardize healthcare and ensure proper treatment decisions leading to better patient outcomes and better uniformity across providers so that patients receive equally good care from all providers.
The shift toward integrated care has already begun as we see the rise of integrated clinics where all specialists responsible for a clinical outcome are working together under one roof. As such, a more complete treatment for a given condition will become standard and no longer compartmentalized per hospital or academic department—for example, when a hip is replaced, alterations in leg length or gait will be addressed at treatment outset, not after future problems arise. The core of all of this is sound objective data.
To support the various clinicians in this space, our goal at Sensor Medica is to create systems that provide better, more reliable, objective data in an efficient and effective manner to help them make evidence-based treatment decisions. Our goal is to find a way to deliver the data needed to customize each therapeutic decision. And document the clinical basis for these decisions.
For example, foot function should be understood while the foot is under load and in motion because this is when the patient experiences pain. Force pathways and asymmetries are the core defects that lead to pathology. Merging of this core data into treatment is critical, whether it’s orthotic treatment, surgery, or wound care, because these are all results of biomechanical abnormalities that have led to tissue failure and arthritic change. Therapeutic use of objective data will allow the prevention of such harmful changes.
Further, after surgery, do we understand what changes have happened as a result of the surgical correction? Has the change created abnormal stress elsewhere that we can correct now with preventive measures that will prevent injury and save time and money long term? If we aren’t using tools to give us an objective understanding of the patient in front of us as they are today, we must ask ourselves why not?
Orthotic treatment should reach well beyond simple alignment of skeletal structures and a 3-dimensional image. A complete understanding of how the foot functions under load and in motion is critical. We must understand the integrity of the soft tissue and how these structures interact with the skeletal structures in this state of stress and motion to better treat our patients.
All of these things start with reliable objective data. Sensor Medica seeks to always be an innovator in this market and remains dedicated to research and education and with academics and clinicians alike. Education is critical to transform today’s compartmentalized approach to the treatment of complex biomechanical issues to an integrated approach. We remain dedicated to the merging of research, educational and technological innovation to improve the efficacy of clinicians and outcomes for patients. And we will continue to support LER as it strives to cover the research that will make it all possible.
Kendon Howard is Chief Executive Officer of Sensor Medica North America. He has worked in the podiatric and orthotics space for more than 20 years.