Zimmer Biomet buys home-based physical therapy company RespondWell

By Jonah Comstock
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RespondWell, a digital health company focused on gamified home-based physical therapy tools, has been acquired by Zimmer Biomet Holdings, a musculoskeletal healthcare-focused medical device company, for an undisclosed amount. The acquisition will build out Zimmer's recently announced "Signature Solutions" offering by adding at-home telerehabilitation.

"The new value-based reimbursement environment compels hospitals and providers to assume responsibility for patient outcomes well after discharge and through the critical rehabilitation period," David Nolan, president of the Biologics, Extremities, Sports Medicine, Surgical, Trauma, Foot and Ankle group at Zimmer, said in a statement. "Integrating an innovative and comprehensive telerehabilitation program into our Zimmer Biomet Signature Solutions offering addresses the emerging need for healthcare providers to oversee and optimize post-surgical recovery outcomes in order to maximize value across the entire episode of care."

Founded in 2001, Grand Rapids-based RespondWell was originally known as Respondesign. It was a fitness gaming company for the first decade of its life before pivoting into the physical therapy space around the time that it joined StartUp Health in 2013 (with notable classmates AdhereTech and CoheroHealth). Their first physical therapy software was developed for the Microsoft Kinect platform in partnership with Genesis Rehab Services.

At the time, COO John Grispon attributed the shift to a combination of the exergaming space becoming more crowded and the physical therapy space having a large perceived demand for innovation. He told MobiHealthNews that many of the company’s assets and skills were transferrable, but there are big differences between exergaming and physical therapy as well.

“When someone buys a fitness game, you make the assumption that they want to get fit, they want to get in better shape. So there’s an intent there,” he said at the time. “It’s a very different situation when someone is injured or has negative mobility, where their doctor is giving them care or prescription of some sort that they know works, and that’s why they’ve prescribed it. There’s this intent and behavior gap in the physical therapy world. It’s this gap between great care and an optimal outcome. You’ve got the good intentions of that patient, but good intentions don’t always map directly to good behavior. That’s often the biggest dilemma for efficacy. We have to make it easy for them, make it entertaining, make it visual, make it rewarding.”

More recently, Respondwell raised $2 million in March from Start Garden and Michigan Accelerator Fund I. The company also had some high-profile partnerships, working with Philips to offer its Therapy@Home platform to Philips customers and partnering with smart sock company Sensoria at CES 2015. 

Zimmer will apparently keep the company's Therapy@Home offering more or less intact as part of its Signature Solutions offering.

"Telerehabilitation represents the future of optimal and efficient post-surgical patient care, and we are excited to integrate our remote rehabilitation platform into the Zimmer Biomet Signature Solutions suite," Ted Spooner, cofounder and CEO of RespondWell, said in a statement.nike air max 2019 online