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Physiotherapy Health Tech in Review. A Look at Giraffe Digital Healthcare.

A Physiotherapist’s Honest Review of the Digital Health Platform.





The healthcare landscape is undergoing a digital revolution.


At the forefront of this change is digital health, or telehealth. 

Digital health is a technology that allows patients to connect with healthcare providers remotely. 


Common features include video conferencing, phone calls, or secure messaging platforms. 

For many, digital health has been a game-changer, particularly for those who may face barriers to traditional care.


In this blog we’ll focus on one platform in particular, Giraffe Health.


A social enterprise providing an online platform delivering personalised physiotherapy and podiatry programmes.


I'm a health writer and practising physiotherapist, you can read more about me here.


I had first-hand experience of using the platform to deliver care to my patients in a community stroke setting.


Keep reading to discover my thoughts on the software solution or you can skip to my review summary.


What is Giraffe Health?


The platform (www.giraffehealth.com) provides healthcare prescribers such as physiotherapists and podiatrists with a library of video and print exercises. 

Each page has a video, audio and text description. 

Each patient profile also includes an exercise diary and an advice page.


The platform features a relatively broad range of exercises and caters for a spectrum of conditions.



Why was Giraffe created?


Co-founder Lorna Paul was a physiotherapist for 25 years.  She became aware of the number of multiple sclerosis patients who struggled to access services. Reasons include work and family commitments, issues with language and culture, distance/ geography, lack of transport or their disability.


The growing demands on modern healthcare has created the need for other methods of care delivery.  The long-running postcode lottery continues to cause difficulties accessing healthcare. 


The difficulties causing longer waiting times and shorter periods of treatment.  


Initially developed for people with MS, Giraffe Healthcare soon realised the digital health platform could be used for those with other conditions.


This led to further projects and studies with people with spinal cord injury, stroke, lung conditions, diabetes and arthritis.


Giraffe Health Features:


Video library:


As mentioned, Giraffe Health offers a library of exercises which can be chosen for an individual. The videos feature a real model performing the specific exercise in real time. The models chosen represent a variety of ages, body types and diagnoses. It’s a very simple but effective consideration, making the platform more relatable for its users.


The library has most essential exercises you'd want for a generic programme it lack breadth and depth of options. Although, during a virtual call with Lorna she did acknowledge this limitation.  She reassured users that the developers are always seeking clinician feedback and planned to add more content.


Search capability is another feature which could be improved. Like all health professionals, we physios are guilty of health jargon.  The descriptors used for certain exercises didn't always match those used by clinicians. 

Making it a challenge to find the correct exercises at times.


 


Patient Diary:


A handy feature of the digital health app was the ability to set up a diary template for the patient.  The diary feature is designed to increase a patient's participation. 


The platform gives the patient the opportunity to record their own exercises on a diary surplus to the prescribed amount.


In theory, this feature has potential. But, in my experience it wasn't user-friendly enough for my patient group.  For the right patient I would imagine this could be a useful feature and  could potentially reduce the need for clinician visits.  


They could monitor patient compliance with the program without the need for a review.


Advice:


The advice section comes as a free text box for the clinician to add on information.  It supports the prescribed exercises and is useful for adding medical or safety considerations for the patient. 

 


Messaging feature:


Largely speaking this feature was under utilized by myself and my colleagues.  The interface isn't particularly user-friendly and it creates an additional task.  


It didn't offer anything more than an email or phone call would provide.


However,  one particular patient of mine absolutely loved this feature.  She would send me daily messages.  It helped her feel she could liaise with a health professional whenever she needed to. 


Even wishing me a happy Easter. 🐣


 

Summary:


As a small scale digital health start-up Giraffe Healthcare have made a solid start and have shown further signs of development.   Their reasons for starting a telehealth platform are clear and justified.


There really is a need. 


Having used the platform clinically for a year the pros and cons are quite clear.  


Video quality user interface and developer communication are all great.  Whilst the limited (but growing) library of exercises means it couldn't be used for many of my existing patients.


User experience was quite frustrating at times.  Owing to the lack of exercise customization in exercise instructions and search difficulty. 


It's worth noting that my work is in neurological physiotherapy. 

Broad and generic exercises are not suitable for this patient group. 


The capability to customize the written instructions would have been a game changer. 



Here's my top five pros and cons for the Giraffe Healthcare platform:


Pros:

Cons:

Videos - Produce to a high quality and user friendly

Limited exercise library -  not always able to find the exercise is you would like to prescribe

User experience -  simple and easy to navigate for patient and clinician alike

Lack of customization -  text and voiceover are set and cannot be customized or modified.

Use of ‘real’  models -  more relatable and realistic for patients

Search feature -  sometimes takes multiple attempts to find the correct exercise

Developer communication -  giraffe team always available. They responded quickly to any service requests

Communication Feature - created another pathway of communication for clinician to check.  Clinician not always notified of messages.

Mock up of community setting -  video is recorded in mock living rooms and kitchens to make it more user friendly

The Name - 3 of my patients immediately deleted the Welcome email upon seeing the name giraffe in their inbox.  The name 'Giraffe' doesn't have any relevance to healthcare.  The patients assumed it was spam and deleted it.

At the time of writing, the contract with Giraffe Healthcare's was not extended with my clinical team.


The founders and developers have clearly put a lot of time and effort into the digital health platform and should be congratulated. 


Whilst it may be fantastic in some clinical areas it did not meet the needs of our service.


For more Health & Wellness content head to:




Gavin x


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