Introducing SessionBot: your Health and Benefits virtual conference assistant

Go to SessionBot


The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak forced several Health and Benefits conferences to cancel and reshape as virtual events. But with so much content out there in so many places, finding interesting sessions from across the employee benefits and digital ecosystem is no easy task. We’ve made it a little easier with SessionBot.

SessionBot: See every virtual conference in one place

SessionBot brings together virtual sessions from employee benefits and digital health conferences such as the recently-cancelled Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Conference, National Business Group on Health Conference and the Conference Board’s Employee Healthcare Conference, and standalone vendor sessions.

Thanks to the SessionBot, you can more easily access the knowledge you need to make decisions, mitigating the negative impact of travel restrictions and event cancellations.

Make the most of your time at home

At SWORD, we know that being remote can have its benefits. Our Digital Therapist brings clinical-grade MSK therapy to members right in their homes, helping them overcome their pain faster and more effectively. And we hope our SessionBot will help you make the best use of your time during this period, too.

“Our clients were letting us know they were dropping out of several conferences, so we decided to take action” says Kyle Spackman, VP of Sales at SWORD Health. “These conferences are a critical part of a Benefits team’s decision-making process – they’re places to learn, to make connections and to inform critical decisions about 2021 strategy. It’s great that so many events are going virtual, but we’re also hearing this is an overwhelming time for Benefits leaders, as they’re trying to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in their own businesses, as well as do their strategic work. We want to make it a little easier for them to do their day job.”

Check the daily updates and curate your own conference

SessionBot will run for at least the Spring conference season, and we’re updating it daily. You can check the list, pick your favorite virtual sessions, and add a reminder to your calendar.

If you have a suggestion for a virtual event to include, submit it here! Other suggestions on how to improve your experience are more than welcome, too.


2019: SWORD Health’s Year in Review

After a 2018 that saw us going from hope to reality, we went through 2019 knowing this was the year for growth.

From pushing our clinical validation forward to closing our series A investment round with prominent investors, this year has strengthened the groundwork for us to build the future of musculoskeletal care. And we harnessed every opportunity to deliver on our mission.

More power to the people

In 2019, we provided the best care to twice as many patients! This means more and more people were able to follow their physical therapy programs from the comfort of their homes, spending more than 580,000 minutes with our digital therapists while saving more than a million miles of travel back and forth from PT centers.


A proven, better approach to MSK care

This year, we continued researching to prove we can provide patients with more effective physical therapy programs without them leaving their houses, facing traffic, and fitting appointments into their busy schedules.

Two new studies showed our Digital Therapist can achieve better functional outcomes than conventional face-to-face physical therapy, not only short-term but also in the long run. And more people have started to notice how much of a fantastic alternative this is.

Clinical validation at the core, always

Clinical validation is the hallmark of what we do. In the words of our CEO, Virgílio Bento, “it is the touchstone for every development we bring into our Digital Therapist.”

Appointing a Clinical Advisory Board was, therefore, the next step towards that end. This group of specialists, whose expertise ranges from orthopedics to cognitive psychology, is now assisting us in our long-term clinical strategy as well as supervising the clinical studies within the company.

New allies for our mission

We began the second quarter of the year closing our Series A funding round, where we raised $8M to fuel our efforts towards tackling musculoskeletal conditions, the number one driver of employers’ medical costs in the US.

This round was led by Khosla Ventures, a prominent venture capital firm focused on breakthrough technologies that can solve big problems. We couldn’t have asked for a better ally.

A digital health company to watch

In 2019, we earned our place as one of the most promising digital health companies in the world.

SWORD Health won the Employer Wellness & Prevention category at the UCSF Digital Health Awards, being recognized as the best digital health solution aimed at employers.

Along with this award, we were also ranked as one of the world’s 150 most promising digital health companies at the CB Insights “Future of Health” conference; featured in Wired’s 2019 list of the Hottest 100 Startups in Europe; and given an honorable mention in Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas 2019.

A stellar team in the making

Only by having the most brilliant people working together can we achieve what we set our minds to — finding a smarter way to treat MSK. And we’ve been committed to finding the best.

This year, we went further and hired not just great talent, but also the people who will help us scale and nurture this talent into the most stellar team in the digital health space.

2020: what’s next?

Next year, we’ll keep the momentum going.

We’ll reach more people and change their lives for the better. We’ll continue our research and add new features to improve our Digital Therapist. We’ll strive to make musculoskeletal care even more engaging, effective, and accessible.

These are more than promises. They are commitments.

Here’s to a pain-free 2020!


SWORD Health recognized as an Employer Wellness and Prevention Leader

From the very beginning, SWORD Health has followed two unwavering principles: we would never compromise our technological quality and we would never jeopardize our clinical validation.

We chose these premises because we knew this was the only way to give patients the best possible musculoskeletal care. And we delivered.

Our efforts have been recognized a number of times this year. SWORD was ranked as one of the world’s 150 most promising digital health companies at the CBInsights ‘Future of Health’ conference in New York. We were also featured on Wired’s 2019 list of the Hottest 100 Startups in Europe and won honorable mention in Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas 2019.

The best Employer Wellness & Prevention solution

Last week, we achieved a new milestone: SWORD won the Employer Wellness & Prevention category at the UCSF Digital Health Awards 2019. SWORD was recognized as the “best wellness or prevention digital health product or solution aimed at employers.”

Our Founder and VP of Strategic Business Development receiving the award on behalf of SWORD Health

We were picked among more than 500 global entries in the competition by a distinguished panel of judges from the technology sector, healthcare companies, medical professionals, and investors. After a couple of rounds, we were awarded the “best wellness or prevention digital health product or solution aimed at employers.”

“This award validates SWORD as the company that is leading innovation in the musculoskeletal space,” said our CEO and founder Virgilio Bento. “To have a jury composed of the most brilliant people working in both technology and health acknowledge our excellence is especially satisfying.”

About SWORD Health

SWORD has developed a ground-breaking Digital Therapist, which has been proven to work more effectively than conventional physical therapy while bringing treatment to patients’ homes. The technology is set to make treatment of Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD), which affects more than half of all Americans every year, affordable to millions of people.

SWORD works with some of the biggest self-insured employers and health plans in the world to treat and prevent MSD.

SWORD’s ultimate goal is to cut the costs of treating MSD by half. More than 50 percent of Americans struggle with MSD, requiring a yearly expenditure of $190 billion, making it the second-largest contributor to healthcare spending.


SWORD Care: a program to help the elderly prevent falls

Falls are responsible for up to 30% of both fatal and non-fatal injury, as well as for 10 to 15% of all emergency department episodes in older adults. Falls represent major expenditures in healthcare, with direct medical costs were estimated at 38 billion dollars in 2013 in the USA.


Clinical evidence favors well-designed exercise programs in the prevention of falls. Most of these programs are costly and heavily dependent on specialized human resources – the therapists.


Currently, there are no satisfactory solutions: those that exist are either costly and complex or lacking enough clinical validation.


Capitalizing on our experience, we developed a solution for these problems. Through the SWORD Care project we developed high-quality exercise programs specifically designed for falls prevention.


SWORD Care is an integrated, engaging, efficient and cost-effective approach to falls prevention, including both diagnostic and therapeutic tools. It includes automated assessment tools overcoming the dependence on subjective and time-consuming scales.


SWORD Care was developed in a two-year period, under a project co-financed by the Programa Operacional Norte 2020 through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).


It was tested in a Porto based facility with patients typically in the falls risk group, through a total of 1130 sessions performed adding up to more than 10h30 of treatment per patient during the 6 months of testing period. SWORD Care’s results were measured by a multi-dimensional characterization of participants’ functional status:


  • Timed up and Go Test (TUG) 32% improvement
  • Five Times Sit to Stand Test (5xSST) 25% improvement
  • Berg’s Balance Scale (BBS) 56% improvement
  • Short Falls Efficacy Scale- International (FES-I) 34% improvement

Patients reported 10 out of 10 satisfaction and provide very positive feedback:

“I can move my arms and legs better and do chores that used to bother me. Now that I know how to use it, I’m perfectly capable of performing the sessions on my own. I’m very satisfied, I really like this.” J. Godinho, 81 years-old


“I would never do any of this, there are things I do here I would never have done in my life! It helps me throughout my day, my joints feel less rusty, I can move a lot better. The pain is gone and so is my instability.” A. Veríssimo, 79 years-old


Introducing SWORD Health’s new Clinical Advisory Board

Clinical validation has always been at the core of our company. SWORD’s Digital Therapist has already shown to recover patients faster and better than traditional physical therapy. However, there is more to be done, tested, and proven.

Therefore, we are proud to announce the appointment of our company’s new Clinical Advisory Board (CAB). The group of specialists, whose expertise ranges from orthopedics to cognitive psychology, will help SWORD devise a long-term clinical strategy and supervise the clinical studies within the company.

“SWORD Health knows clinical validation plays a crucial role in our company’s differentiation,” says SWORD’s CEO, Virgílio Bento. “It is the touchstone for every development we bring into our Digital Therapist. The addition of this knowledgeable group of clinical experts is not only welcome but also the extension of our understanding that science has to lie at the very core of everything we do at SWORD.”

Members of SWORD Health’s Clinical Advisory Board include:

Jose Rodriguez, MD (Chairman of the Board): Orthopaedic Surgeon, Hospital for Special Surgery; Editorial Board of Journal of Arthroplasty, Bone and Joint Journal, Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research;
Jorge Lains, MD: Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine (PRM) Specialist; President of the International Society of Physical & Rehabilitation Medicine (2016-2018);
Gerard Francisco, MD, PhD: PRM Specialist; Board of Directors of the American Board of Physical Rehabilitation and Medicine; Chairman and Professor, McGovern Medical School, PRM Department;
Chris Furmanski, PhD: PhD in Cognitive Psychology; Director of Innovation, Stanford Health Care (2013-2016)

Further evidence ratifies SWORD Health’s Digital Therapy

The newly appointed Clinical Advisory Board joins the team at a particularly fitting time, since SWORD also reported the outcomes of its most recent study, the first proving a digital solution (SWORD Digital Therapist) can achieve better outcomes than conventional face-to-face rehabilitation (35% better functional outcomes), requiring 80% less time from the physical therapist.

The clinical validity of the digital program, that has once again shown very high patient satisfaction (91% rated their satisfaction with 10/10) and engagement (83% of patients performing five or more sessions/week), makes SWORD Digital Therapist an evermore interesting solution for both post-operatory and chronic scenarios.

“On one hand, SWORD directly addresses the increasing rehabilitation needs we see every day in every health system,” says Jorge Lains, member of the CAB and President of the International Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine. “On the other hand, this a solution that obeys all the golden rules of physical therapy: it’s intense, it’s repetitive, it’s task-specific. SWORD upholds not only the highest physical therapy standards but also the scientific and psychosocial ones.”

José Rodriguez, who is also joining the CAB, says that “SWORD Health is leading an effort to engage patients more directly in understanding their role in their rehabilitation, and in this way inspire them towards improved functional outcomes.” The prominent surgeon from the Hospital of Special Surgery also states that “Being part of this effort is both fun and exciting. Helping people get even better is why we are here.”


Chess can teach us how to implement AI in healthcare

This article was featured in The Next Web

It’s been more than 20 years since Garry Kasparov lost his famous chess match against IBM’s Deep Blue, which heralded much anxious commentary about how humanity was soon to be subjugated by the superior processing power of supercomputers. Two decades later and our cultural understanding of AI can feel like it’s still stuck in the nineties.

Videos of increasingly agile robots from Boston Dynamics steal headlines about the AI-apocalypse, while AI’s application in other industries can be all but ignored by the mainstream.

However, amid all the worry about AI taking jobs, there’s little informed debate and nowhere is this more true than in healthcare. As far as the public perception of AI and health, we have struggled to move beyond the idea of robot doctors.

The reality of AI’s likely influence in health is more nuanced and, I’d argue, more exciting. The healthcare sector is already a key battleground in the coming AI revolution, with the AI health market expected to reach $6.6 billion by 2021. Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett and Jamie Dimon have entered the market with much media attention, but can AI deliver the cost savings they seek while maintaining equal or better patient outcomes?

AI in Healthcare: Strengths and Limitations

It’s worth remembering that AI is a collection of different technologies, which together represent a real opportunity to improve efficiency in administrative and clinical healthcare practices. Take Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, the hospital has teamed up with Google DeepMind to greatly increase the detail at which they’re able to analyze retinal scans, opening up the potential for earlier diagnosis and cures of otherwise debilitating conditions. Meanwhile companies like BenevolentAI are using AI technology very differently, to rapidly accelerate the process of drug discovery.

At the other end of the scale, AI-driven chatbot technology is being used by Babylon Health to ease the burden on the UK’s National Health Service by offering basic diagnoses and appointment scheduling through smartphone apps.

But Babylon is a case in point of AI’s weaknesses as well as its strengths: the app got into trouble recently after finding that some users have been ‘overplaying’ their symptoms in order to get appointments faster. This cuts to a key weakness of AI in healthcare: while it’s great for analysis and research, healthcare still needs a human touch. How can we reconcile these two conflicting directions?

Lessons from Chess

The key is in finding the right balance, and, as unlikely as it sounds, there are lessons from chess. After Garry Kasparov’s infamous defeat against IBM’s Deep Blue, he went on to consider the possibilities offered by playing chess in partnership with computers rather than against them.
Rather than admitting defeat, he invented a new form of the game, called Advanced Chess, where a human and AI work together. The brute force analysis of the computer system together with the more strategic thinking of the human player has taken the game to heights of skill never seen before, and it’s now an active sport around the world.

We need a similar approach in healthcare. It’s overly simplistic to see AI technologies and human medical professionals as opposed to each other in a battle over jobs. What matters most is patient outcomes, and a combination of strong AI-led analysis with a human context has the potential to deliver massive improvements.

While machine learning scanning technology is able to detect microscopic lesions or tumors on scans better than the human eye, this on its own is not enough. Healthcare is a multidisciplinary practice, requiring social, behavioral, and contextual information from the patient in order for the physician to make an informed decision about possible treatment.

The one-to-many relationship

What does the future look like? I believe it starts with rethinking how we view the doctor-patient relationship. This relationship, at the foundation of modern medical practice, has traditionally been thought of as one-to-one, and this has to change. Our populations are aging around the world, putting pressure on healthcare budgets to deliver a quality standard of care. The one-to-one doctor-patient relationship is no longer sustainable.

Instead we should look to AI, machine learning, and modern communications technology to distribute physicians’ time more efficiently. Clinical teams can be augmented with AI technologies to automate more repetitive or non-critical tasks, such as supervising exercises, or analyzing test results. Rather than leading to job losses, this would free up more time for doctors and therapists to focus on delivering the unique value they have to offer.

Our healthcare future is bright, and it doesn’t involve robot doctors. Instead, we’ll see more patients assigned to a single doctor or physician, and technology will enable that one-to-many relationship to happen without significantly impeding on quality of care.


2018: SWORD Health’s Year in Review and Look Ahead

For SWORD Health, 2018 was the year to dare, to double down on our promise of bringing innovation into the world of physical therapy.
So at the dawn of 2019, it’s time to wrap up all the things that happened in the past year and to launch some challenges at the year to come.

SWORD Therapy empowers more patients

In 2018, our innovative therapy reached more people and more markets. And the numbers reflect that scale:

That is triple-digit growth in three different categories: minutes spent in therapy, saved trips to rehabilitation centers and the overall number of patients treated.