Physiotherapy services could cut waiting times and give faster access to the service by giving assessments over the phone, a study published in the British Medical Journal has said
Researchers assessed the effectiveness of a service where the patient is offered advice from a physiotherapist without waiting for a face-to-face appointment.
However, the University of Bristol-led study did not find any evidence of increased patient satisfaction.
Lead author and Professor of Primary Care, Chris Salisbury said that using telephone physiotherapy is “safe and effective.”
He added: “The slightly earlier advice and treatment provided means that the service is likely to be more cost effective than usual pathways of care from a health service perspective, which will be of interest to commissioners.”
Between July and December 2009, more than 1,500 adults with musculoskeletal problems used PhysioDirect telephone physiotherapy.
Almost half the people who used the service were managed entirely by telephone, with fewer face-to-face appointments.
The study found that care based on advice given over the phone is equally clinically effective and provides faster access.
The study, entitled Effectiveness of PhysioDirect telephone assessment and advice services for patients with musculoskeletal problems points out that patients managed entirely on the phone were only slightly less satisfied with their consultations as usual care patients.
The researchers claim that this shows physiotherapists are able to provide assessment by phone in a way that is “reasonably acceptable” to patients.