Flowly, VR-enabled app to manage chronic pain and stress, rolls out program for providers

Flowly, an app for autonomic nervous system regulation, has launched a program for providers, the company has shared exclusively with Fierce Healthcare. 

Through the program, providers will receive a virtual reality headset, a heart rate sensor, an onboarding session and access to a portal tracking patient progress.

Founded in 2020, Flowly relies on the stimulating and immersive nature of VR to draw a user’s attention away from pain. By being able to visualize one’s heart rate and breathing, users can learn to regulate their nervous system. The company has gone through several clinical trials, received a grant from the National Institutes of Health and also participated in Y Combinator.

During COVID-19, Flowly saw an influx in providers interested in its product—for use on themselves, co-founder and CEO Celine Tien told Fierce Healthcare. They were also eager to receive information about innovative ways to use pain management and anxiety therapies. “The problem with our healthcare model today is that so many providers live in their own silos,” Tien said. 

To help bridge gaps in knowledge, Flowly created a founding board of physicians, with 15 active members, where they share creative ways of using Flowly in practice. Members of the board also get access to the latest research, data and features from Flowly and can offer feedback to improve the product. Some members also work with Flowly to design lectures on their domain expertise. Nearly all members of the board have used Flowly themselves, Tien said.

Jaimee Arnoff, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in young adults, initially heard about Flowly on a podcast. As someone with chronic pain, Arnoff reached out to try the product. “As a provider, I always love to try any app,” Arnoff told Fierce Healthcare, especially one she might suggest to her clients. 

After using Flowly for a few months, she was convinced it was worth recommending to her patients as an option. “It was great to kind of focus on something so all-consuming,” Arnoff said. “It’s beautiful; it’s relaxing.” 

Patients can use Flowly before, during or after a treatment session to help calm their nervous system. “There are many days with clients where we are asking them to lean into this very uncomfortable place,” Arnoff said. “Flowly is a great way to kind of debrief and kind of come down from a heightened state of emotional or physical state that we might find ourselves in together.” 

Some of Arnoff’s patients buy Flowly for their personal use outside of treatment sessions. 

Flowly currently has more than 10,000 users and is so far used by more than 100 providers.