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Industry Insights
Sensors vs. Sensorless: Which Tech Wins at Member Engagement?
Industry Insights

When it comes to moving the needle on musculoskeletal (MSK) outcomes, patient compliance is critical. However, MSK providers—physical therapists especially—have long sought new strategies to change the all-too-common narrative of poor patient adherence.  

A growing body of research underscores the magnitude of this problem, spotlighting the 70 percent non-adherence rate for many home exercise programs (Naqvi, 2020). Conflicting responsibilities and inconvenient timing top the list of reasons countless patients cite for skipping in-person PT sessions (Kattan, 2023). Without easier access to a consistent physical therapy program, patients position themselves for suboptimal outcomes which often lead to long-term, higher-cost care.

Home-based care: a key to better engagement and outcomes

With the recent explosion in digital health solutions, members now have the option to receive care in their homes. This is a particularly exciting development for MSK patients, as home-based care bypasses many of the logistical barriers to traditional care (transportation, time away from work, childcare, etc.), enabling more convenient and accessible PT options.

These home-based solutions empower individuals to take a more active role in their health. A recent systematic review found that digital solutions improved short-term exercise compliance for a variety of MSK conditions (Lang, 2022). Moreover, the authors emphasized the substantial role that patient-centric interventions have on PT utilization—prioritizing the patient experience directly promotes stronger treatment compliance (Lang, 2022). With higher adherence rates, home-based care opens the door to better PT outcomes and reduces the risk a member will encounter inappropriate imaging and surgery.

Pinpointing member preferences

As home-based MSK care accelerates, multiple technologies designed to increase member engagement now dot the digital PT landscape—including wearable devices and sensorless programs for motion tracking. Both of these technologies track a member’s movements, range of motion, body placement, length of exercise time, and repetition counts to provide real-time feedback on form, progress, and program adherence. While both types of motion tracking aim to increase member utilization, research reveals clear differences in member preferences between the two options.

Wearable sensors require members to strap-on a device before exercising, a technical complexity that can translate into engagement roadblocks. One survey of U.S. patients with medically-prescribed devices found that technical complexities created significant bottlenecks, as 20 percent of respondents reported difficulties using their devices (Hedges, 2022). Even if members can operate their technology seamlessly, they still must adapt to wearing a large and bulky device—an inconvenience that could jeopardize wear time and compliance. For members who travel, packing bulky sensors presents an additional barrier to program adherence.  

Due to factors like technology anxiety amongst certain patient populations, strap-on devices may also hinder health equity. One survey of popular commercial health trackers like Fitbit and Apple Watch found that only one-third of US adults (mainly individuals with higher levels of education, income, and technology proficiency) wear these devices. This digital divide disadvantages sectors of society that could benefit the most from more healthcare engagement (Chandrasekaran, 2020).

On the other end of the spectrum, sensorless motion tracking offers similar monitoring and engagement capabilities with more freedom and less inconvenience. Using advanced computer algorithms and the camera from a standard phone, tablet, or computer, sensorless technology identifies key points on the body to track movement at multiple joints to within two degrees of accuracy. Without any extra equipment or steps needed, this technology provides the member and the member’s care team with precise data on program adherence and progress.  

Optimizing the patient journey

From a member engagement lens, sensorless motion tracking builds a more convenient and accessible experience—meaning greater value with less friction. The name of the game in MSK treatment is high-value care, and impactful PT is a key stepping stone to achieving that goal.

At Vori Health, we have found that sensorless motion tracking drives substantial value for patients, along with convenient virtual visits and personalized treatment plans. When members choose Vori Health, they connect with not just physical therapists, but an entire doctor-led team of MSK health professionals who custom-tailor treatment to align with a patient’s needs and goals. This patient-centered approach inspires greater engagement (85 percent plan adherence) for substantially improved member outcomes.

When members choose Vori Health, they connect with not just physical therapists, but an entire doctor-led team of MSK health professionals who custom-tailor treatment to align with a patient’s needs and goals.

Contact our team today to learn how Vori Health’s holistic approach to MSK care can boost member engagement and drive plan satisfaction.


  1. Naqvi, 2020: Naqvi AA, Hassali MA, Naqvi SBS, et al. Development and validation of the General Rehabilitation Adherence Scale (GRAS) in patients attending physical therapy clinics for musculoskeletal disorders. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2020;21(1):65.
  1. Kattan, 2023: Kattan A E, AlHemsi H B, AlKhawashki A M, et al. Patient Compliance With Physical Therapy Following Orthopedic Surgery and Its Outcomes. Cureus 2023;15(4): e37217.  
  1. Lang, 2022: Lang S, McLelland C, MacDonald D, Hamilton DF. Do digital interventions increase adherence to home exercise rehabilitation? A systematic review of randomised controlled trials. Arch Physiother. 2022;12(1):24.
  1. Chandrasekaran, 2020: Chandrasekaran R, Katthula V, Moustakas E. Patterns of Use and Key Predictors for the Use of Wearable Health Care Devices by US Adults: Insights from a National Survey. J Med Internet Res. 2020;22(10):e22443.
  1. Hedges, 2022: Hedges L. (2022, March 2). Considering the Patient Perspective When Prescribing Medical Wearables. Software Advice

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