Zimmer Biomet and Apple Inc.’s decision, announced in October 2018, to create the mymobility digital platform had nothing to do with COVID-19, of course. As the largest player in total joint surgery (TJA), ZBH has been on a determined march toward a future as an orthopedics informatics powerhouse. Given its significant exposure to elective surgery uncertainties, however, any steps the company takes to become more digital-centric reflects responses both to COVID-19 challenges and beyond that, long-term trends in orthopedics.
Mymobility works by connecting potential TJA patients to their healthcare team using an Apple Watch and iPhone. It provides clinicians with important physiological metrics pre-operatively and post-operatively about patients, including heart rate, step count, pain scores, and other functions. Patients are asked to use an app on their phone to communicate their scores and interact with providers.
The program engages patients and monitors their recovery, alerting providers if significant changes occur or milestones are missed. For example, it can track compliance with physical therapy regimens, which has the potential to decrease outpatient physical therapy visits and lower costs.
Further, mymobility has been able to measure some gait features, like step climbing, but that data cannot capture the quality of the step. Now, Zimmer Biomet and Apple are adding gait quality assessment tools to the menu, which can offer additional information, for example, helping to predict when people with joint problems are ready for surgical intervention and compare their progress post-surgery against a database. The new features will be available later this year, Zimmer Biomet says. The concept is similar to mymobility’s approach to measuring heart rate variability, which is a qualitative assessment of health, says Andrew Frieberg, MD, who joined Zimmer Biomet last year as its first chief medical officer—the first person to hold such a position at a leading orthopedics company.
The new gait measure uses sensors in the Apple Watch and iPhone to passively collect walking speed and double-support time (duration of when both feet are in contact with the ground) when walking on flat surfaces. Patients receive a daily walking goal to capture gait metrics for their surgeon’s review. The readout is a score, which will be paired with alerts that help clinicians and their pre-operative patients assess whether they are near-term candidates for TJA and whether post-op patients are on track to recovery. The Mymobility app is free for patients, but they have to be enrolled in the platform by their providers in order to access its benchmarking and customized care plan features. Zimmer Biomet offers various pricing options to providers to acquire the platform.
Image Credit: Zimmer Biomet