KK: Thank you for taking the time to speak with me. Can you start by telling me a little bit about Reactiv?
SS: Absolutely. Reactiv is the virtual clinic for chronic joint pain. We connect patients who are suffering from chronic joint pain to an occupational therapist who designs a customized plan of care for that patient and guides the patient through our engaging augmented reality games to promote healthy movements.
KK: How do you design the movements? What's the hardest part of development?
SS: The movements that we incorporate are the same movements that would be recommended by an occupational therapist (OT) or physical therapist (PT) for a given condition in a traditional clinical setting. For example, in our Bubble Shooter Game, the movements that we use are the making of a fist and supination (rotation of the forearm). So, there’s no new science in determining what motions we should turn into games; we are relying on the existing science that underlies occupational and physical therapy. We work closely with a variety of medical professionals to help us determine what the plan of care should be for a given patient, and that in turn informs which motions we choose to prioritize and incorporate in our games. Think of it this way: Instead of being given a piece of paper with a list of exercises, you’re now given an app with interactive experiences that make it fun to do those exercises, along with a host of other features.
The hardest part of development is creating an experience that is easy to use and comprehend. Our patients come from all walks of life, with varying levels of tech-savviness and gaming background, but the technology that we use is on the cutting edge of computer vision and gaming. Just because something is technologically advanced doesn’t mean that it is necessarily harder to use, but our challenge is to make our experiences seamless and delightful for users by putting in the work behind the scenes.
KK: How do you prevent people from overplaying the game or overexerting themselves while playing?
SS: That’s a great question! An essential part of Reactiv is the relationship with the occupational therapist. When a patient joins Reactiv, he/she is paired with an OT, who meets with the patient via video chat to design a customized plan of care for the patient, which includes recommendations around the frequency, duration and which games the patient should play. After that initial evaluation, the OT is always available to the patient in our in-app text chat and during any follow-up video sessions. On the back-end, the OT can monitor the patient’s progress as well as metrics like pain level. If the OT sees that a patient has a higher level of pain than expected, he/she can intervene by reaching out to the patient, or even remotely disabling a game for the patient. Our app also automatically asks our patients how they’re feeling after 15 minutes, then again after 30 minutes, and encourages them to slow down if they need to take a break.
KK: Is the expectation to keep playing this game long term?
SS: Yes. We believe that healthy movements are essential to leading a full life, and that you should always continue to exercise. Exercise is known to build strength in the muscles around the joints, increase flexibility and reduce pain. If you can have fun while exercising, that’s even better!
KK: What is the cost to patients?
SS: We’re working with popular health insurance plans to join their provider networks, so we can offer Reactiv as a covered benefit to patients. In the meantime, patients can get started at no cost.
KK: How do you promote your AR game, and how do you plan to reach more patients?
SS: We promote Reactiv mostly through social media, but we’re also working with doctors (rheumatologists, primary care physicians and pain specialists) and non-profits like the Arthritis Foundation to get the word out about Reactiv.
KK: I know you did a seminar in September at the Center for Digital Health; have you seen steady patient growth since then? Any updates in development or reach since?
SS: Yes! When we did the seminar back in September, we had just opened our (virtual) doors and had fewer than a dozen patients; today, we’ve had over 200 patients come in, and we’re seeing very promising results with our initial cohort in terms of engagement, reduction in pain, and increased function. The other big update is that we’ve recently decided to focus our efforts on the chronic joint pain/arthritis population, which is a subset of the broader population that an OT would typically treat.
KK: What do you think the future of augmented reality is in the digital health sphere?
SS: Our use of augmented reality (AR) to promote musculoskeletal health has always been rooted in our view that computing platforms like AR and virtual reality (VR) are different from traditional computing platforms in their ability to engage the whole body. We’re already seeing a tremendous amount of development in the AR/VR space that coalesces around digital health, and we’re excited to play a significant role in showcasing how this technology can drive better musculoskeletal health outcomes, and simply to make caring for your health a fun experience.
KK: Anything else you want to promote?
SS: If you or someone you know is dealing with arthritis or chronic joint pain, we’d love to have you try Reactiv by downloading our app (iOS / Android) and/or visiting our website. You can also follow our progress on our Instagram page. Thank you for having us and giving us an opportunity to tell our story!