Digital and advancing technology

Trial of diagnostic ultrasound in the orthopaedic setting

Historically, provision of MSK Ultrasound diagnostics has been via a referral to Radiology. However, there is increasing evidence that assessment, investigation and initiating treatment at the initial appointment is shown to be cost-effective, increasing patient satisfaction. Utilising this approach also reduces repeated hospital visits for further diagnostics and appointment times for results. The aim of using Point of Care (POC) ultrasound is to enhance the patient experience through instant access to diagnosis, timely implementation of most appropriate clinical pathway and achievement of the optimal outcome in the shortest possible time.

This study aims to investigate the benefits of point of care (POC) and schedule ultrasound clinics using a proof of concepts approach in the orthopaedic setting.

The digital future of physiotherapy

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.

Delivering self-management for low back pain via a digital solution in primary care

Most low back pain (LBP) does not need specific or specialist treatment and will often resolve if people follow simple evidence-based advice. Access to this advice is inconsistent with people often self-managing via untrusted resources online. Using digital technology to provide immediate day-by-day support whilst connecting people to their local MSK pathway and support services, has the potential to deliver trusted evidence-based advice in a consistent and standardised way. We are introducing a self-management solution (getUBetter) into the routine care of patients with LBP. Implementation should lead to quicker recovery, better outcomes, and a reduction in overall healthcare spend.

The Falls Assistant tool

In 2011 in Scotland, approximately 8% of older people who fell received multifactorial assessment (MFA) and intervention delivered by NHS services. Our aim is to reach 20% by implementing the Falls Framework for Action for Scotland. Tests of opportunistic screening have demonstrated low uptake of MFA; many people don't want - or need - formal intervention from NHS services. A growing number of people over 60 use the internet (59%) with Scotland increasingly investing in technology solutions to improve health and well being. NHS 24's Smartcare Programme, provided the opportunity to explore the use technology to support self-management of falls risk. Our aim was to develop an online self management tool to enable users to assess falls risk and create a personalised falls prevention plan.

Web-based and smartphone based exercise prescription program

  • Evaluate the quality and adherence of patients with MSK conditions to agreed exercise programmes when using a digital platform compared to a printed version.
  • Evaluate the patient´s experience when engaging with an exercise programme and their interaction with clinicians and any differences related to patient characteristics (age, gender).
  • Evaluate the impact on generic patient reported outcome measures (PROMS) (eg PSFS, EQ5D, MSKHQ)

Transnational collaborative digital learning project

Physiotherapy programmes must prepare graduates to live and work in a globally interconnected society. Internationalised learning experiences have the potential to break down ethnocentric worldviews by exposing students to analysis and critique of practice from different cultural perspectives. Such experiences may enable transformative learning by developing the student's ability to shift perspective and reflect critically on how disciplinary practice can change with the social context. Opportunities to study abroad can only be offered to a minority of students. In contrast, digital technology such as discussion forums and video conferencing provide an inclusive platform to make international experiences available to all students on a programme. The aim of this educational project was to engage physiotherapy students in a transnational collaborative group task in order to increase awareness of different international perspectives on clinical practice and healthcare provision and facilitate reflection on their local context.

Physiotherapy use of thoracic ultrasound

The use of diagnostic thoracic ultrasound (TUS) by physiotherapists to examine the pleura, lung parenchyma and diaphragm is gaining in popularity. In the medical profession it has been shown to have efficacy in the diagnosis of pulmonary conditions such as pneumonia, pleural effusions and diaphragm dysfunction. It is unclear how effective TUS is in the hands of a physiotherapist. The aim of this scoping review is to explore the emerging evidence surrounding physiotherapy use of TUS to inform research and clinical practice.  

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