eCovery - the digital physiotherapist for your pocket

Laura Diez

Startup Stories

Fitness trackers, online diet programmes, sports apps - more and more people are monitoring and motivating themselves digitally. Digitalisation is also making its way into physiotherapy. Conventional physiotherapy is usually not enough to enable patients to fully recover. This approach is also being pursued by the Leipzig-based startup eCovery. Because the irregular or often missing training of patients at home is one of the biggest disruptive factors of a successful recovery.

eCovery is the physiotherapist for your pocket: The app offers medical therapy training for various joint diseases and injuries at home. Videos and interactive exercises for home training enable the best possible therapy support.

"The future is digital - also in physiotherapy. We believe that patients can recover faster and better with digital aids. That's why we work every day to make our therapy app even better and available for more and more areas of application."

In an interview with 5-HT, Marcus Rehwald, CEO and founder of eCovery, talks about the start-up's eponymous therapy app, the benefits of digital physiotherapy treatment and the collaboration with 5-HT Digital Hub Chemistry & Health.

Digital complement to physiotherapy treatment 

"Home training is crucial - that's why we are improving it," says Marcus Rehwald. The eCovery therapy app is designed to complement physiotherapy treatment for patients with any of the following musculoskeletal conditions or injuries:

- Knee (e.g. osteoarthritis/cartilage wear/meniscus/joint pain).

- Hip (e.g. osteoarthritis)

- upper and lower back

- pre- and post-operative for knee and hip TEP

Conventional therapy can then pick up where the patient left off at home. Thus, eCovery closes the gap between training at home and treatment by a physiotherapist or doctor. In addition, digital therapy with eCovery can also take place independently of on-site treatment. 


Dashboard App (eCovery / F. Pappert)

"Our therapy app provides patients with medical therapy content, from exercise videos to standardised PROMs (Patient Related Outcome Measurements) to knowledge units about their injury and illness," Marcus Rehwald explains the start-up's concept.

The app offers patients professional digital support at home and accompanies them during their therapy. The medical benefit lies in the improvement of the state of health (pain, joint function, quality of life) as well as the increase in therapy adherence. A high level of therapy adherence means that the patient and the therapist stick to the jointly agreed therapy plan.

The app offers various functions for this: With the help of videos, therapeutic exercises can be performed independently and safely at home. The exercise catalogue was developed by an interdisciplinary team from medicine, physiotherapy and sports science.

In addition, the patient receives medically sound knowledge about his or her illness or injury and the healing process. The therapy is accompanied by automatic documentation of the therapy progress, regular diagnostic queries and a pain scale. The training plan supports the patient in integrating the training into his or her everyday life and in developing a training routine. The automatic documentation of the exercise progress supports the later evaluation by the doctor or therapist. eCovery provides the communication platform for this and enables quick and easy exchange between all participants.

"It is crucial that the app learns with each training session and adapts the training to each patient individually. Currently, we cover all relevant diagnoses for knee, hip and back with our medical product. The area of application for our therapy app is huge, with around 30 million diagnoses per year in Germany alone."

Therapeutic exercises per video instruction (eCovery / F. Pappert)

Practitioners, cost bearers and patients: the target groups of eCovery

"We currently serve three main target groups: First and foremost, patients with knee, hip and back problems, but also, of course, payers such as statutory and private health insurers and, of course, practitioners (so-called healthcare professionals such as doctors and therapists).

In the medium term, we are working on winning over the insurance companies as customers, in the sense of cost coverage, and the patients as users, as has now happened with the example of Audi BKK, which is making a digitalised therapy available to its insured. This is another milestone for our company - the first BKK to cooperate with us and most certainly a prime example of hybrid care. The journey has just begun and we invite everyone to join us on this journey."

Accompanying patients digitally - the advantages of the eCovery therapy app 

In addition to regular and correct training of the patients in home training, there are many other advantages that the eCovery therapy app brings with it.

A pain diary kept by the patient continuously documents the success of the therapy and provides information about the current progress of recovery. The training programme is automatically adapted to the patient's specific diagnosis and thus ensures an adequate training level at all times.

In addition, patients can decide for themselves on which days of the week and at what time they would like to train. A training session lasts about 30 minutes, consisting of warm-up, main part and relaxation. Three training units are completed per week. The degree of difficulty of the exercises is automatically adapted to the respective patient.

While an outpatient therapy usually consists of only 6-12 appointments, the therapy programmes of eCovery have individual durations, usually a therapy programme is 24 weeks long. Complex therapy programmes, for example care before and after an operation, can last up to 42 weeks.

Another advantage of the therapy app is that it does not require sports equipment. Only everyday objects are needed for the eCovery training programme, e.g. a mat or towel, a chair or stool, bottles as weights, pillows, and a pair of socks.

The eCovery therapy app allows permanent access to comprehensibly prepared medical information on one's own state of health, healing process and therapy videos. This means that patients no longer have to physically go to the physiotherapist, but are accompanied digitally around the clock.

Behind the scenes  (eCovery / F. Pappert)

eCovery as a partner for therapists and medical practices  

"As a partner, eCovery offers the opportunity to transfer and test one's own ideas and innovations quickly and resiliently in practice, so that we can learn together - always also scientifically based. We update the app and the underlying practitioner platform every 6 weeks or so and are very fast in the implementation. This makes us a strong partner when new wishes arise in the project or ideas need to be tested. At the same time, we are well-positioned in terms of personnel and economy, so that long-term success is ensured. Our quality management safeguards against any risks, and at the beginning of 2022 we will probably also have successfully completed ISO 13485 certification - proof that we deliver tested quality in all areas."

eCovery in dealing with sensitive data

The security of the patient as well as his or her data is paramount for eCovery.

"For the creation of the account and the invoice, we need an email address, date of birth and first and last name. We also make sure that the diagnosis matches our therapy. During the anamnesis, the current impairments of the body region to be exercised, the quality of life and other important parameters are recorded. This is necessary for the creation of the training plan. In the course of the training weeks, the data of the different training days are stored as well as the user feedback on the severity of the exercises and on the pain before and during the training. This serves to constantly adapt the training plan to the respective needs. In addition, progress anamneses are carried out within the therapy programme.

We set ourselves very high goals when it comes to data protection. We know that health data in particular is sensitive information that you do not want to share with everyone. Therefore, for example, personal data (name, address, age...) is stored separately from training and health data. "

Benedict Rehbein, Marcus Rehwald & Dr. med. Alexander Georgi (from left to right)  (eCovery / F. Pappert)

eCovery in between challenges and learnings 

"Like probably every other start-up, we had to deal with various challenges. In addition to classic challenges such as financing in the early stages or distributing the product at the beginning, the biggest challenge for us as a young team was definitely the medical device certification," Rehwald says. A challenge that the start-up has mastered. "We learned how important it is to hire the right people and to ask questions and exchange ideas on various topics."

eCovery Team  (eCovery / F. Pappert) 

eCovery as part of the 5-HT ecosystem 

"Precisely because this exchange and interaction with other start-ups and the industry is so important to us, we are proud to be part of the international network of 5-HT. As a young startup, we sometimes don't even know which partner from the industry could be exciting for us. 5-HT has valuable contacts and the necessary know-how to connect us with relevant players to jointly establish digital innovation in the healthcare industry."

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