As podiatrists, we have to keep up with the latest technologies

Eva Bostyn, Podiatrist at Postillion (Poperinge, Belgium)

Eva Bostyn graduated 3 years ago with a Bachelor´s degree in Podiatry from the Artevelde Hogeschool in Ghent (Belgium). After her studies, Eva began working as a podiatrist at an orthopaedic company. Her work focused primarily on medical foot care and advising on semi-orthopaedic footwear. On a hot summer day we met Eva at ‘Postillion’ on The Market Square in Poperinge, a beautiful town in the middle of what is known as Flanders Fields. It is here that Eva works as a podiatrist. Postillion specialises in the combination of comfort footwear, medical foot care and custom orthotics.

Eva, can you explain to us how you built up Postillion? What is Postillion’s core business?

My colleague Eveline is the owner of the building, and I got into contact with her when she was actually still a bit in doubt about what she was going to do with it. Then we began reflecting and brainstorming, and I came up with the idea to do something similar to where I had previously worked: an orthopaedic company that also at the same time has a store and makes orthopedic insoles. I was confident that this concept would also work here. And now we´ re sitting here in our own store! In short, Postillion is a medical specialty store for people with foot complaints or, more broadly, musculoskeletal complaints. We actually try to offer the people comfort shoes that go very well together with custom orthotics. Besides all that, we also offer our own orthotics on the basis of a gait analysis. Next to that, we also perform medical foot care in what we call our medical box.

Which insole solutions do you offer here?

We work exclusively with Phits. We decide to include custom orthotics in the store because I´ m a podiatrist myself. I wanted to work with the RS scan footscan for gait analysis and they offer also the Phits orthotics, into which I can perfectly integrate my corrections. Hence my choice for Phits.

Why did you specifically choose footscan?

Well, as a student at the Artevelde Hogeschool we received lessons on plantar pressure measurement and already back then we were able to work with footscan. Therefore the choice was actually quickly made: my knowledge was already there and I was also very satisfied about it. So we actually very quickly decided to buy the pressure plate in order to be able to actually begin with our insole therapy.

In your view, what’s the added value of footscan as an analytical tool?

Well, here we note that the patients increasingly want to be well-informed. Even when they come purely for shoe advice, it sometimes happens that we just bring someone into our analysis room to do the footscan and make an analysis of the movement pattern. In this way people also get a picture of exactly what goes wrong during that gait pattern. That's why we actually find it a very good tool to work with: people want to know what’s going wrong, and we can also provide them with this explanation, this background information. Thus even in our shoe advice we will very often use the footscan to actually inform people, about which shoe fits them, about what we can do for them as a podiatrist. Ranging from a good shoe through a support insole to possible medical foot care.

Do the people understand what you show them on the analysis?

I insist on showing the images from the analysis to people and explaining to them - in a good, naturally simple, way - how the pressure points are distributed. I also try to briefly explain the center of pressure line. How this normally should be, how this goes wrong if people tend to pronate or supinate. And I do have the sense that people really get into the story of the footscan. Naturally, you have to be able to translate this in a human way. It isn´ t my intention to overwhelm people with all kinds of data and numbers, but I do want them to know why we are going to make orthotics. And that's exactly why I like to show them the analytical image.

How did you learn about Phits?

Well, I very clearly wanted to have a plantar pressure measurement system in order to inform people and to be able to offer more service. We quickly came to understand that we can actually make 3D-printed insoles based on footscan. Therefore the decision to work with Phits orthotics was easily made. I’m also a fan of 3D-printed insoles and I sought out information online as well and spotted good Phits reviews. After an additional visit to Phits and RS scan to gather even more information, we were fully convinced of the power of the footscan and Phits.

Were you initially sceptical with regard to 3D printing as a production technique?

Not really. If you open up magazines and newspapers these days, well… you see that 3D printing is making advances on every front. And that´ s why I actually found it interesting to get further into it. We are above all familiar with the EVA support insoles from our podiatry education. I also worked with EVA insoles earlier. But to be entirely honest, if I put a Phits orthotics side by side with an EVA one, in terms of durability the Phits orthotic is far more superior compared to the EVA, and definitely when compared to cork and leather orthotics. That was an additional argument to opt for Phits.

Are you surprised that many of your fellow podiatrists are still so hesitant about 3D printing?

Yes, but I think that is actually just a simple continuation of our training in college… Until now we haven't seen it in college. And then you´ re maybe hesitant to put this into practice. If we'd already been exposed to the technology in college, many colleagues maybe would have more quickly taken the step to 3D print technologies. We didn’t really experience this during our training and people remain close to what they know. But for me it was above all an inspiring innovation. People are also sincerely interested when we say that the Phits are 3D printed. I think that we, as podiatrists, really have to keep up with the latest technologies.

For you, what is the greatest added value of these Phits 3D-printed insoles?

We use the footscan to do the analysis. People actively participate in their own gait analysis. I analyse and explain why we will proceed with orthotics if necessary. With the data that I have, on the basis of the Footscan, I can also immediately go and model the insoles. As a podiatrist, I really like the design tool within the system, it is really user friendly. It goes smoothly and the delivery of the orthotics is really consistent and reliable, that’s also a very interesting aspect. Certainly here in the store we want to be able to offer a really fast service. And that´ s why we opted for the total package of footscan together with Phits. For our type of business, that's definitely an added value. 

How do your customers react?

We’ve had very good reactions about Phits! Many people are accustomed to the traditional orthopaedic orthotics, based on a footprint in a foam box, without much explanation. But here they find it fantastic that they are actually measured and analysed. People want to know what’s going wrong. We don’t consider people a number here, they get the feeling that they’re treated like a patient. When they fit the orthotics, they also see that they get much more support and that their gait is corrected really well. Next to the extra support for the feet, lots of functional corrections can be added to the orthotics. Patients also note that the Phits are high quality and very durable. For me as a podiatrist, that’s what matters most.

How is the combination with the comfort footwear that you offer?

Well, the combination of our comfort footwear and Phits is excellent. People who ordered 3D-printed Phits here often immediately choose a good comfort shoe to go with it. Then together, we look for the perfect shoe. And actually we have never had problems to get the Phits into a comfort shoe, they are never too thick – which is something you often hear about traditional orthotics.

You describe Postillion as a foot specialist, not as a shoe store. Is that the true philosophy of Postillion?

Yes, we use the term “medical specialty store” in our communication, specifically for feet. We always make clear that a podiatrist is present here: someone who knows about feet! We really try to put together a nice comprehensive package of the three aspects - shoes, orthotics and foot care - in order to be able to offer the perfect solution for the patient.

You’re a very passionate podiatrist. Would you recommend this solution to your fellow podiatrists?

Certainly! I’m convinced about footscan as an analytical tool for plantar pressure. I would immediately invite interested colleagues to drop by and work with the scan and model the insoles so they experience that you actually have a lot of tools in the program to make orthotics according to their preferences. So yes, I would certainly recommend to colleagues to try it out or to come test it sometime.

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