2022, October, APA Focus Conference: Technology, AI, and the future of Physiotherapy Practice

Pfeiffer, S., & Joss, B. (2022) Technology, AI, and the future of Physiotherapy Practice. APA Focus Conference, October, 2022.



Artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming the world we live in, allowing us to create a digitally-enabled future beyond our wildest imagination. When combined with telehealth, AI has the potential to help clinicians collect, measure and analyse data to improve patient outcomes. 

In 2019, Coviu and CSIRO partnered with leading allied health professionals to develop the world’s first AI tool for telehealth, PhysioROM. PhysioROM measures range of motion in real-time during a video consultation using nothing more than a standard webcam, enabling clinicians to objectively monitor the progress of a patient’s recovery remotely. To bring this to life, PhysioROM received support via a research collaboration grant from the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources. 

Today’s presentation will take you on the journey of the development and validation of PhysioROM, and the major challenges faced along the way. It will discuss the preliminary results from the extensive research undertaken to achieve accurate and reliable measurements, including how the algorithms were developed along with comparable results of the clinical trials conducted of PhysioROM versus in-person assessments – all of which were extraordinary. 

Furthermore, the presentation will discuss how legislative changes to the definition of a “medical device” challenged the nature of PhysioROM and required us to go through a regulatory approval process with the TGA for Software as a Medical Device. We’ll also share the hurdles that came with developing a novel telehealth product during the pandemic that changed the world as we knew it, forever. 

As healthcare continues to move toward a digitally enabled future, AI will increasingly play a role in supporting the work of physiotherapists, to making online therapy equal to in-person consultations and maybe one day, making telehealth better than physically being there.