While working as a physician in Occupational Medicine at Harvard University in Boston, Jeff Vogel began to notice a problem. “I was finding that the way that we were taking care of injured workers . . . was the same way we’ve been taking care of them for the last sixty or seventy years,” he says. People who have been injured in the workplace are generally tasked with managing their own home physical therapy, and for the most part the instructions are confusing or difficult to follow. “We don’t have a really good way of encouraging people to seek out information about their injury, to take recovery into their own hands,” he says.
Vogel felt motivated to solve the problem himself, so he developed RecoverMe, a software platform that aims to get injured workers back to work faster. “Basically the way it works is once you’re plugged into the system we guide you through recovery day by day,” Vogel says of the platform, which is currently in beta. “One element, for example, of what we provide are customized physical therapy routines, tailored to people’s needs, lots of injury specific information, reward systems and…various incentives and gamification within the platform to engage people and keep people wanting to use it.”
RecoverMe is unique in that it benefits not only recovering workers, but also employers and insurance companies. Workers, employers and insurance companies all bear the financial burden of workplace injuries—employers and insurance companies have to shell out for the care and replacement of injured workers, and workers themselves often make only about 60% of their wages on workman’s compensation if they’re out for multiple days of work. “By improving work-related injury outcomes, employers can save a lot of money on Workers Compensation costs,” Vogel says. According to him, workplace injuries in the United States cost businesses around eighty to ninety billion dollars a year.
That’s part of the reason that getting people back to work faster is better across the board. “It’s one of those unique opportunities were insurance companies, employers and employees have aligned incentives,” Vogel says.
RecoverMe sells its software to employers, but it’s end user is the employee. Employers pay an onboarding sum for the software, and receive internal marketing materials and a few days of informal consultation to help the company get the best use out of the system. Then, employers pay a monthly fee in order to keep the software updated and their employees in the system. “RecoverMe will already be integrated into the workplace, as part of the benefits package for employees,” Vogel says. “Workers will have access to the wellness and injury prevention modules even before injury occurs. When employees are injured, they can access the core functionality of the application that guides them through their recovery.”
As Vogel says, the end goal of RecoverMe is to help create a generally healthier workplace as a whole. “When we’re completely finished this is not only going to be a recovery app,” Vogel says. “It’s going to be a full service platform, starting with enhancing wellness and maintaining a healthy workplace population. If an injury does occur, RecoverMe will not only improve recovery times, but will also [focus on] reinjury prevention.”
RecoverMe is still fairly new, and Vogel has a lot of hope and ideas for the future. He says that so far, many people in both the medical community and industry have responded exceedingly positively to the software.
What’s most important to Vogel is that he’s working on solving a problem that needs to be solved. “Being a practitioner in Occupational Medicine, seeing what the problems are day in and day out and being so frustrated by it was really the reason why I decided to undertake this,” he says.
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