Kyle Spackman calls himself a “walking statistic” that not all surgeries work. He had two back surgeries for musculoskeletal problems. He remembers struggling to fit physiotherapy appointments into his work schedule.
âI was fighting with all the other workers to get the 5 pm slot,â Spackman said. “It was the last one I was able to get on the way home.”
Spackman is now senior vice president of an international company – whose US headquarters are based in Utah – that helps patients access better physical therapy in their spare time.
Sword Health has developed wearable technology with sensors that monitor patient movements during physiotherapy workouts, prompting patients to correct movements as needed, and collecting data that is shared with a patient’s physiotherapist.
The company, which launched its software in the United States in January 2020, is growing rapidly. Last month, it raised more than $ 163 million in investments. The sword is now referred to as the “double unicorn,” meaning it is valued at over $ 2 billion.
Sword deserves the attention he receives, said David Politis, publisher and editor-in-chief of Silicon Slopes, a nonprofit focused on tech entrepreneurship in Utah.
âI think the idea they came up with is not only fascinating, it’s brilliant,â Politis said. âThe service they provide to consumers and businesses is perfect. “
How it works
With Sword, there is no need for planning. Whenever patients are free, they can plug in their sensors and follow the routines on their tablets. The software sends the information to a physiotherapist, who can then modify the program as needed.
Last Christmas, Spackman said, about half of Sword’s patients logged in for therapy.
âIt’s by design that it’s all on its own,â Spackman said. âIt fits your lifestyle and your schedule. “
The therapist will monitor the data collected by the sensors and send a message to the patients to change the programs as needed.
âThe secret sauce isn’t necessarily the hardware,â Spackman said, âit’s the algorithms themselves that take the data from the hardware and merge it, then send it back to the patient.â
Sword sends the tablet and sensors to the patients, so they only need WiFi access to start a physiotherapy program. If the patient doesn’t have WiFi, Sword will even send them a hotspot, Spackman said.
The sword is primarily provided as an employment benefit, much like a health savings account or retirement fund. More than 150 employers, including local companies like Health Catalyst and national companies like Pepsi Co., offer Sword to their employees.
âEmployers want to do this because it saves them money on their health care costs,â Spackman said. “It also allows the member to be at work, without having to leave for their physiotherapy appointment.”
There are no immediate plans to sell Sword services directly to consumers, Spackman said.
Planting roots in Utah
Sword has experienced tremendous growth since January 2020, from 20 corporate clients at the end of the first year in the US to 160 in December of the second. Spackman attributes this, in part, to the pandemic and the focus on social distancing and telehealth.
âThis has dramatically accelerated the adoption by employers and healthcare plans of digital solutions,â said Spackman. âWe could have timed our market launch better, frankly. “
Founded in Portugal, Sword Health has around 300 employees, most of them in the United States, but plans to double in size next year, Spackman said.
His office in Draper is already “packed,” he said. The company plans to stay in Utah even when it moves to a new building. Many Sword employees – over 100 of whom are physiotherapists – can work remotely, but sometimes meeting in person can boost productivity or creativity.
Staying in Utah allows Sword to tap into a technologically talented workforce, particularly in Salt Lake.
âWe have this bold mission to save two billion people from pain,â Spackman said. âWe need all kinds of talent, whether it’s here in Salt Lake, whether it’s nationally. We need talent.
Sword’s funding cycle – its third investment cycle in 12 months – helps Utah entrepreneurs as a whole, Silicon Slopes’ Politis said.
âWhenever an entrepreneur or businesses or organizations are successful in raising money, it means that they have attracted the people with the purse strings,â Politis said. “Every time that happens, it puts Utah more and more on the road map.”