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The Intermountain Foundry helped propel a home-grown physical therapy tech solution toward success

The Intermountain Foundry helped propel a home-grown physical therapy tech solution toward success

By Courtney Kirkham

Aug 18, 2017

Updated Jul 13, 2023

5 min read


The spark that led to the creation of Intermountain ROMS® occurred more than 18 years ago, when Stephen Hunter was enjoying a day off from work with his friend, Intermountain colleague, and fellow physical therapist, Gerard Brennan. That afternoon, Gerard asked a seemingly straightforward question: “Stephen, how good is the physical therapy you provide at Intermountain Healthcare?” 

Stephen was proud of Intermountain Physical Therapy and its commitment to providing high quality patient care, but also recognized that Gerard’s question had a double meaning. Gerard actually meant, “Is there objective data demonstrating that Intermountain Physical Therapy delivers effective care that both improves patients’ conditions and results in high patient satisfaction?”

To this question, Stephen’s answer was no — bringing to light the immediate need for such a tool. The innovative system that resulted from that conversation is now helping improve care and reduce costs for thousands of therapy patients, and with the help of the Intermountain Foundry they’re now expanding its use outside of the Intermountain system. 

Fast facts about Intermountain ROMS® and how it enables value-based care:

  • Intermountain ROMS® (Rehab Outcomes Management System) serves as a central repository of patients' self-reported pain and disability measures that assists therapists in providing value-based care.
  • By utilizing a proprietary treatment-based classification system, ROMS helps therapists drive clinical treatment decisions, engage patients more effectively by stratifying a patient’s risk for delayed recovery, and provides on-demand, real-time reports for clinicians with meaningful and detailed information.
  • ROMS helps reduce costs for patients and payers, and supports physical therapists in providing effective care.
  • ROMS was founded by Intermountain caregivers: Stephen Hunter, Physical Therapy administrator; Gerard Brennan, clinical quality and outcomes research director; and Lee Pierce, chief data officer. Efforts to commercialize ROMS are supported today by Jeremy Porter, Intermountain Innovations director.

The Intermountain Foundry helped ROMS accelerate its growth. Intermountain Healthcare, in collaboration with Healthbox, runs the Intermountain Foundry, a program designed to help Intermountain caregivers explore the business potential of their healthcare innovation ideas. ROMS was selected to participate in the 2015 Intermountain Foundry. When entering the program, ROMS had already shown strong results within 50 Intermountain physical therapy sites, as well as with one external customer. ROMS was managing over 1.6 million patient visits, resulting in — among other things — an average of $1,400 in cost savings per lower back patient.

Although the ROMS team was making significant progress with their innovation, Stephen Hunter says they “…wouldn’t have been able to accelerate the development of ROMS without being part of the Foundry.” One example of how the Foundry helped: As part of their Foundry participation, the ROMS team was given focused time and resources to conduct key interviews with existing clients and partners to understand user needs, identify prospective clients, and develop a clear pricing strategy.

Now just 18 months later, ROMS continues to be a critical tool for Intermountain physical therapists and has been successfully implemented at an additional four client sites.

Pam Dibblee, rehab manager at Riverton Hospital Physical Therapy, is impressed with ROMS’ impact: “As a clinician and manager, ROMS has assisted me in the development of staff therapists, physician relations, and patient prognoses. Using ROMS, I look at clinical outcomes with my therapists and together we can identify areas where clinicians need to develop skills, as well as areas where they’re successful.”