Health professionals who prescribe exercise programs have, for many years, scribbled stick figures on a piece of paper to hand to their patients.
Are you one of them? I used to be too.
A few computer based exercise prescription programs have traditionally been on the market, and for those who trialled them, those stick figures gave way to black outline figurines, in a bland piece of software that was slow to use. Invariably, the limited exercise selection eventually led therapists back to stick figures on a piece of paper.
The last 12 months have seen a dramatic change in the exercise prescription software options available to health professionals. Finally these programs are user friendly, dynamic and much better looking.
Exercise prescription software is now an important part of our health service. App based systems are convenient for patients, allow increased monitoring for therapists, and certainly promotes our brand essence of ‘cutting edge care’.
So which exercise prescription software should you choose?
These are the 7 questions that I asked myself when making my selection. They may help you to decide too.
Does it look pretty?
OK you may think this point is pretty superficial, but I have found looks to be an important indicator when it comes to software. You wouldn’t speak to your own patients using the same technical terms and jargon that you do with colleagues. Likewise, a software developer shouldn’t build a system for tech function alone – the interface that you use should feel good.
If a system is pleasant for you to look at and use, it means that the developer is building with you in mind.
Is it being updated regularly?
Does the software platform demonstrate that it constantly adapts and changes according to user feedback? If you read through past updates, blogs and user forums on their website, can you see that they are intermittently releasing new features, updating the bank of exercises and ironing out common tech bugs? The best platforms are constantly listening to their users and changing.
Is there a big user community on FB?
A large community of happy users is the best asset that a tech product can have. Even if the company has technical support staff, often the quickest and most useful troubleshooting can come from the users themselves. As a complement to this, the platform should have a high response rate on their Facebook Messenger. These things mean you will be able to get the help you need, when you need it.
Do they make it easy to integrate with other systems?
Most health professionals that are considering exercise prescription software will already be using practice management software. Does the new software ‘talk’ to your existing software, to eradicate double entry of patient data?
Is it user friendly on both ends?
Can you find what you need intuitively? Can your patients access the system easily with basic instruction? If not, can you see that the platform has plans in place to improve these things in the not too distant future?
Are core features included as standard?
For most platforms, certain features are standard, and other features incur an additional fee. Are the most common features that you envisage using included in your plan? If not, do the additional fees offer value for money for you?
Can it scale with you?
You may have 5 therapists now, but will the system remain functional and cost effective when you have 20 therapists? How about if you open additional location? If you have plans to grow, make sure this is a system that can grow with you.
Exercise prescription softwares are constantly developing and changing, and new ones intermittently enter the market. Every 6 to 12 months I will go thorough this checklist again. If my current system continues to tick the boxes, I am happy to stay. If at any stage a system fails to meet my needs, I may consider a switch.
What experiences have you had with exercise prescription software?