Q&A: Physical therapy provider moves HQ to Lake Nona
Meet the doctor and Lake Nona resident bringing physical therapy into the digital age.
An orthopedic surgeon, husband, and father of four, Reuben Gobezie, MD is a nationally-recognized leader in shoulder care and the co-founder of PT Genie, a home-based physical therapy provider now headquartered in the GuideWell Innovation Center.
PT Genie is advancing the field of physical therapy with a system that helps patients and providers across the country stay connected online.
Dr. Gobezie moved to Lake Nona four years ago and says his love for our community and watching Medical City expand inspired him to relocate his digital health company from Cleveland, Ohio to Lake Nona.
In this Q&A, Dr. Gobezie shares how PT Genie evolved from a research project to a leading company for outpatient care – and a preview of other projects he’s working on in Lake Nona.
Q. Tell us about your backstory – What lead you to pursue a career in orthopedics?
My dad was a doctor in Southern California. He was the chief of staff at a hospital for 17 years in the town where I grew up. I used to work in the hospital and over the years, I had the opportunity to meet all kinds of doctors in internal medicine, cardiology, pulmonology, orthopedics, and general surgery. I would pay attention to how they lived and worked and the doctors in orthopedics seemed to have a lot of fun and their patients did well.
Fundamentally, orthopedics is about restoring mechanical function to the body and relieving pain. I love orthopedics because it’s about saving quality of life.
Q. How did PT Genie come to life?
I do a lot of clinical research on all the different ways we can do things better in orthopedics. I’ve designed shoulder replacements used around the country and implants used for repairing biceps.
About five or six years ago, a friend from Harvard Medical School and I were researching the value of rehab between the patient, the physical therapist and the doctor. One of our challenges was understanding how effective a procedure or intervention was if we couldn’t account for the quality of rehab between patient visits. PT Genie was really in our heads as a research tool that turned into a leading company for outpatient monitoring.
Last year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services came out with remote patient monitoring codes that launched us into redesigning our software around an infrastructure that helps patients do therapy from home wearing digital sensors as they follow specific exercises on a screen.
PT Genie is prescribed by a health care provider to give the patient an on-demand experience so they can do therapy on their own time following a rehab protocol designed by their doctors from our library of more than 400 exercises. It’s all saved in a cloud-based system where you, your doctor, and physical therapist can track your progress.
Q. Why did you decide to move your headquarters to Lake Nona?
I’ve been wintering in Florida for about 11 years, living on the west side of Orlando until about four years ago when my family and I moved to Lake Nona Golf & Country Club. I love Lake Nona and I think Tavistock is doing a great job developing the area, especially Medical City.
We wanted to move our PT Genie headquarters to Lake Nona where there is a lot growth and opportunity for new businesses in the tech and biotech space. We’re excited to be part of the movement in Lake Nona to have a more meaningful impact on health and wellness.
Q. What is your vision for the future of PT Genie?
I’m one of the busiest shoulder replacement surgeons in the country, but if you asked me what the best rehab protocol is for shoulders I could only tell you what I think because there isn’t any data for me to compare my rehab protocol to the next doctor.
With PT Genie, we’ll begin to understand what exercises work best from patient to patient based on things like age and gender. This evolution of data will help inform physicians and patients about the best rehab protocol for their recovery and what providers offer the best outcomes by region or hospital.
Q. Do you envision any other uses of PT Genie – can it be used in other areas of health care?
Outside of physical therapy, PT Genie has a strong retail component. Think about sports and off-season training. I can’t tell you how many kids I see with injuries who didn’t have any off-season training to keep their shoulders healthy.
For example, research has shown that the right off-season training program can reduce adolescent baseball injuries by 60%. In adolescence, girls have a higher rate of ACL rupture than boys who play pivot and shift sports like soccer or volleyball. Because of this, we’re working with Dr. Daryl Osbahr, chief of sports medicine at Orlando Health and team doctor for Orlando City Soccer Club, to develop a female athlete ACL prevention program. Like the research on off-season training for baseball, you can reduce female adolescent ACL rupture with the right training.
Q. What other projects are you working on?
In addition to PT Genie, I’m transitioning my orthopedic practice, from Cleveland to Lake Nona where I’ll continue to offer outpatient shoulder surgery to patients from all over the country. I’m also working with a local hospital network to develop a world-class shoulder center in Orlando.