The digital future of physiotherapy

Purpose

The Five Year Forward View report1 highlighted the need to take advantage of opportunities technology offers patients. 81% of UK Adults (91% 18-44) have touch screen smart phones with the majority (89%) 4G enabled.

Our service initiative utilises App and web based technology to provide patients with a credible, evidence based source of education and advice on musculoskeletal and mental health issues. Our aims:

  • Ability to complete visual triage assessments via web and App based solutions, enabling enhanced remote assessments and treatment.
  • To offer various mediums for patients to gain knowledge, fitting their learning styles. Through provision of evidence-based information on different platforms including; website, webinars, podcasts, blogs and an app.

This special interest abstract is to share our innovations with the wider physiotherapy community offering alternative ways of delivering services in the 21st century.

Positive patient feedback comments
such as, "very informative, clear and precise” and “I like the format of an insight into a common injury - good work”
4118 patients
downloaded the app and received 5076 unique programs

Approach

To create a holistic approach, our digital services are based on 3 pillars:-

Visual triage -provided via app and web based technology allowing physiotherapists to securely video call their patients to provide assessments. Technology enables the physiotherapist to live stream exercise videos whilst watching simultaneously with the patient, ensuring effective performance.

Webinars -Through analysis of clinical management information, webinars were created on the most prevalent MSK issues within our patient demographic. Patient participation was gained through email sign up and advertised online and by printed posters. Feedback was captured by online survey to assist future development.

Myiprshealth.com- Utilising service feedback we created a custom built education platform to host self-help guidance information, monthly blogs and podcast downloads. This site has in-built patient mapping allowing analysis of user traffic to further enhance key areas of interest.

Outcomes

Over 12 months our webinar sign up grew from 25 patients to our maximum of 100 per session for our most popular webinar. The webinars yielded a 37.5 Net Promoter Score. Subjective patient feedback included comments such as “Very informative, clear and precise” and “I like the format of an insight into a common injury - good work”

Our App was downloaded by 4118 patients who received 5076 unique programs with subjective feedback reporting “I didn't need any actual face-to-face sessions, it was all done either on the phone or via their app on the ipad which was excellent. Had a very tailored programme put together, very specific to the injury and my activities. Very impressed.”

Myiprshealth.com has been visited by 2590 unique users over the past 12 months, who viewed on average 5.5 different pages on the site accessing varying information from MSK care to mental health support.

Cost and savings

The main benefits to the service were increased active patient participation in education combined with increased patient choice in how to access treatment. By allowing patients to access treatment virtually we were able to cut down on the cost of travel for patients while also maximising clinician productivity as any DNAs could be filled by selecting alternative patients awaiting assessment to contact virtually or telephonically.

As education sessions via the webinar service peaked at the 100 per session maximum this allowed 1 therapist to reach and educate a patient group in far excess of what a standard group session could hold and effectively communicate with.

Implications

Patient engagement with digital technology is high given the growth of our digital services and unique users accessing content. Early signs are that subjective feedback shows high levels of patient satisfaction. Future work should focus on increased review of patient objective outcome measures when using digital healthcare versus traditional provisions.

The implications of this highlight the need for Physiotherapy practice to continue to adapt to new technology innovations providing patients with services that meet there individual needs on preferred platforms.

Top three learning points

While technology is advancing patients still require significant support in adapting to new services in the initial phases.

The educational topics when delivered via a webinar platform need to ensure there is an element of interaction to ensure engagement.

To ensure patients accessed the educational website in a proactive manner there was a requirement to regularly release topical and up to date news articles to attract patients to the website.

Fund acknowledgements

Service development was funded by IPRS Health

Additional notes

Citation 1 : https://www.england.nhs.uk/five-year-forward-view/

This work was presented at Physiotherapy UK 2018.

For further information about this work contact Joe Head

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