Telephone physiotherapy reduces waiting times and provides equally good patient results

January 29, 2013

A physiotherapy service based on initial telephone assessment has the ability to provide faster access to the service and cut waiting times, a study published today on bmj.com suggests.

Providing access to physiotherapy has long been a problem in the NHS with waiting times of several week or months. Furthermore, waiting lists may be congested with those who will benefit from physiotherapy advice but have little to gain from a course of face-to-face appointments.

With an ageing population and rising healthcare expectations, healthcare providers need to explore new ways of delivering healthcare with one such suggestion being initial assessment by telephone. However, this has not yet been rigorously evaluated.

Researchers from around the UK therefore assessed the effectiveness of PhysioDirect, where the patient can telephone a physiotherapist for initial assessment and advice without waiting for a face-to-face appointment. Services which have already implemented PhysioDirect claim it has reduced waiting times and was popular with patients. Researchers compared PhysioDirect with usual care in a randomised controlled trial.

The study involved 2,256 patients aged 18 or over with musculoskeletal problems who were studied between July and December 2009: 1,513 to PhysioDirect and 743 to usual care.

Almost half the PhysioDirect patients (711) were managed entirely by telephone. They also had fewer face-to-face appointments than those in usual care and fewer physiotherapy consultations of any type. The PhysioDirect patients also had a shorter wait for physiotherapy treatment (seven days versus 34 days) and were less likely to fail to attend appointments.

The University of Bristol-led study found that care based on PhysioDirect is equally clinically effective compared with usual care and provides faster access to advice and treatment. However, no evidence was found of improved patient satisfaction.

The authors say the fact that 47% of PhysioDirect patients were managed entirely on the telephone, and were almost as satisfied with their consultations as usual care patients, shows that physiotherapists are able to provide assessments and advice by telephone in a way that is reasonably acceptable to patients.

The researchers conclude that PhysioDirect "is equally clinically effective compared with usual care, provides faster access to physiotherapy, and seems to be safe" but there is no evidence that it is associated with increased patient satisfaction.
-end-


BMJ

Related Physiotherapy Articles from Brightsurf:

Framework helps clinicians identify serious spinal pathology
Rehabilitation clinicians and other health care professionals now have a framework for assessing and managing people who may have serious spinal pathologies.

Physio support in COVID-19 recovery
New physiotherapy guidelines are targeting COVID-19 patient recovery for respiratory management, exercise and mobilisation in acute hospital wards and Intensive Care Units.

Physiotherapy could be done at home using virtual reality
Virtual reality could help physiotherapy patients complete their exercises at home successfully thanks to researchers at WMG, University of Warwick, who managed to combine VR technology with 3D motion capture.

New study shows how patients' health values can impact vital pelvic floor treatment
Researchers and health professionals in Swansea have revealed the value women put on their own health can have a direct effect on the success of medical treatment for pelvic floor problems.

Physiotherapy 'postcode lottery' uncovered
New research finds that the amount of physiotherapy available following hip and knee replacements comes down to a 'postcode lottery.' Those living in London and the North of England are more likely to receive physiotherapy, patients in the South West are the least likely to receive physiotherapy.

Researchers of the UMA analyze the role of kinesiophobia in individuals with chronic musculoskeletal pain
Finding out how kinesiophobia -- unreasonable fear of movement -- may affect individuals with chronic musculoskeletal pain is the aim of a research group of the University of Malaga, which recent studies have been published in the scientific journal British Journal of Sports Medicine, the world's No.

Operative versus non-operative treatment for 2-part proximal humerus fracture
Although increasingly used, the benefit of surgical treatment of displaced 2-part proximal humerus fractures has not been proven.

Standing frame intervention improves life for people with MS, research shows
This is a peer-reviewed, randomized controlled trial conducted in humans.

The use of mobile phone and the development of new pathologies
Professor Raquel Cantero of the University of Malaga (UMA) has identified a generational change in the use of this finger due to the influence of new technologies.

Pelvic exercises may beat bedroom blues
Physiotherapists from James Cook University in Australia say simple pelvic floor exercises may be a cure for some common problems men experience in the bedroom.

Read More: Physiotherapy News and Physiotherapy Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.