Providence invests in virtual physical therapy


Providence is getting into remote physical therapy through a partnership with Luna, a Rocklin, California-based physical therapy provider.

The Catholic nonprofit health system will refer patients to use Luna’s in-home physical therapy service. Luna’s tech platform will match patients to therapists based on factors including specialty, geography and schedules. The service will start with Providence Swedish patients in the Puget Sound, Washington area starting in April, said Prasanna Mohanty, chief operating officer for the clinical network at Providence. 

Related: Providence’s 2022 losses top $6 billion amid high labor costs, Hoag split

Luna’s app will be used to communicate with patients and to track their progress. 

Remote and virtual physical therapy companies have grown in prominence as health systems, employers and health insurance companies all look to address a costly area of medical care. Luna operates in 50 markets across 27 states. In February, the company became the exclusive provider of at-home physical therapy for AARP members. 

“What happens after surgery is just as important as what happens in the operating room,” Mohanty said. “Getting the right sort of physical therapy services in a timely and in a convenient manner is critical to a patient’s successful recovery…the ability to offer convenient physical therapy is what attracted us to Luna.” 

Luna co-founder Palak Shah cited the company’s internal study that found health systems lose $2.5 billion in revenue by referring physical therapy outside of their networks. While financial details of the deal were not disclosed, the arrangement will keep some of that revenue in house for Providence, which has several inpatient and outpatient physical therapy clinics.

The rollout comes at a difficult time for Providence, which posted a $6.12 billion net loss in 2022, compared with a $517.84 million gain in 2021. Despite the financial challenges, Mohanty said the health system is positioning itself for the future, and is bullish on using remote tech to provide in-home care.

“We are looking at any and all opportunities to extend beyond our physical footprint into other ways of providing care, including virtual visits, telephonic, at home, remote patient monitoring and other ways we can patients them the service they’re looking for,” Mohanty said. 

More health systems are using virtual platforms to expand physical therapy services. In February, MSU Health Care said it will work with Walnut Creek, California-headquartered startup RecoveryOne on a virtual musculoskeletal program, which will be administered in conjunction with the health system’s in-person rehabilitation services. The Hospital for Special Surgery, a New York-based academic medical center, spun off a virtual musculoskeletal physical therapy company in October. In December, Yale New Haven Health in Connecticut rolled out a virtual physical therapy program with IncludeHealth.


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