Virtual physical therapy from San Diego-based Reflexion Health was as effective as traditional therapy while saving money, according to a first-of-its-kind clinical trial conducted by Duke Clinical Research Institute.

The study looked at patients on the mend from total knee surgery, finding a person using Reflexion's Vera system saved the health care system $2,745 on average, due to decreased hospital readmissions and fewer post acute care visits.

All the while, safety endpoints were similar across the treatment and control group.

Vera employs an avatar and guided therapy exercises at home, complete with audio-visual feedback and remote physician monitoring.

This marked the first large, randomized clinical trial comparing virtual physical therapy with conventional, clinic-centric physical therapy. About 290 patients completed the trial.

“We are pleased with the results of the study which show that Reflexion Health’s Vera coupled with remote clinician oversight, is a cost-effective paradigm for physical therapy – one that is more convenient for patients while providing clinicians greater insight into the recovery process,” Janet Prvu Bettger, associate professor with the Duke University department of orthopedic surgery and principal investigator of the study, said in a statement.

Post-surgery patients using Reflexion’s Vera system had, on average, one home health and 1.4 outpatient visits. That was far less than traditional rehab, which involved five home health and 10 outpatient encounters.

Reflexion is taking aim at a large market: more than 700,000 people a year undergo total knee replacement.

“Engaging and delighting patients with a convenient and connected solution in the comfort of their own home, while providing similar or better clinical outcomes and dramatically reducing overall healthcare costs is a win for everyone,” said Joseph Smith, CEO of Reflexion Health.

The company is a spinoff of San Diego-based West Health, a nonprofit with the mission of helping seniors age in place.

This article was updated to clarify that the health care system saved $2,745 per patient on average, due to decreased hospital readmissions and fewer post acute care visits.