Phits Insoles, a game changer for O&P. An interview with US Phits Expert Bill Bolesta

Bill Bolesta is a certified orthotist (MS degree Indiana State University, 1999) and the owner and President of The Training Room, Inc., a DMEPOS provider (Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics and Supplies) founded more than 20 years ago.

He started his clinical work as a certified athletic trainer, but he navigated to the business side of operations to start his own company in 1994.  Ever since, Bill Bolesta started several other subsidiaries, including a national consulting firm that focussed on creating ancillary revenue for physicians, and has worked as a consultant for some large orthopedic manufacturers like Ossur and Biomet.

Bolesta was the very first US clinician that embraced the RS Print technology: a combination of digital dynamic scanning (footscan by rs scan) and semi-automated designing to create 3D printed foot orthotics called Phits Insoles.  We have the honor to talk with this true pioneer on his views on this game changing innovation.

Mr. Bolesta, how did you learn about Phits?

Last summer, at the time when Phits was just entering the US, a colleague of mine reached out to me and told me about the product and software application.  At first, I was skeptical and did not fully comprehend the application parameters of the system. Now, after I have conducted over 200 patient scans, I am a believer in the Phits offering and the footscan gait analysis software. It is truly a unique platform and product differentiator, which provides a unique marketing advantage in the competitive landscape within our industry.

For you as a clinician, what are the advantages of 3D printing, compared to other ways of manufacturing?

Traditional manufacturing relies on clinical capture of sub-talar neutral using either a foam impression box or plaster casting, although some labs do utilize a digital scan to capture a static visual of the foot.  The footscan software makes it possible for us to utilize a more functional, dynamic scan of the gait cycle, leveraging the design software to accurately customize the 3D printed insoles based upon the data displays and scan results.  This minimizes the human error element in capturing the dimensions while leveraging a more accurate gait analysis that translates the data in 3D printed insoles.

3D printing for foot orthotics is not completely new. What distinguishes Phits Insoles from other brands and suppliers that work with 3D printing?

RS Print is the only company that can translate a dynamic scan, leveraging the foot plate gait analysis,  into a 3D printed insole through their proprietary software.  Other manufacturers can create a 3D printed end product, but they are creating these products from static scans or molds that do not integrate the force loads that impact motion throughout the entire gait cycle.  

Evenly important, one of the parent companies of RS Print is Materialise, a world leader in 3D printing and 3D printing software applications, especially in the medical field.  So the Phits Insoles are backed by one of the best 3D printing firms around, leveraging their market leading knowhow and expertise.

Is the American O & P market ready for this way of producing?

I believe they are. Clinicians in our field have always needed to stay ahead of the curve in terms of refining and enhancing their expertise and knowledge as our working environment is ever changing. Phits Insoles will help decrease the turn-around time for patient receipt, improving patient access and outcomes, and will provide a better venue to validate and support the medical necessity of the items through the robust reporting module contained in the software application. In todays day and age of documentation and validation of services, the clinician has access to multiple reports and graphics to print and submit as part of the claim submission process, or to utilize as part of the physician follow-up or patient interaction.

What would be your number one argument to convince your fellow O & P practitioners to start with Phits?

It is a game changing product and door opener.  Many clinicians don’t like dealing with foot orthotics because of all the modifications that often need to be made unless it is accompanied by other orthotic devices as part of the treatment plan.  However, the intrinsic posting and accuracy of the design algorithm all but eliminates the need for modifications, and the ease of use involved in the patient scans greatly reduces the clinical time requirements needed as compared to traditional measurement techniques.  In addition, we have found that the clinical application of the gait analysis compliments our core O & P focus, allowing us to obtain access into referring providers who were previously unaccessible, and helping to differentiate our services as compared to other providers.

What are the reactions of clinicians when you first show them this innovation?

Very impressed.  Clinicians understand the biomechanics of the gait cycle, and now have a system that can capture those elements and utilize the design application to walk them through the build out of a custom 3D printed insole.  The mobile portability of the system allows for easy transfer between office locations or sites, allowing access to any clinical facility.  As long as your computer is charged, you can take scans and upload the results later when you return to the office.  

What are the reactions of your patients?

We have had great results to date within our patient population.  They are getting a lower profile, lighter weight, yet more durable insole, and we can create activity specific designs (running, cycling, etc.) during the dynamic scans.  The software and 3D printing really impresses the patient population as well, as they know they are getting cutting edge technology to help treat their pathologies.

Learn more about Phits Insoles at the APMA National in Philadelphia, July 14-17. Booth 329. Contact us to schedule your appointment at the APMA.

Bill Bolesta, Phits Expert since 2015