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Physio by phone cuts waiting times

1st February 2013

Bristol researchers say telephone physiotherapy can have outcomes that are "just as good" as face-to-face appointments.

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The study, published on the British Medical Journal website, found phone physiotherapy could reduce waiting times, but did not "increase patient satisfaction".

The researchers examined how effective the PhysioDirect service was. The service gives patients a telephone assessment with a physio, which is then followed up with a face-to-face appointment if required.

The team drew comparisons between adults who had musculoskeletal problems who were using either the PhysioDirect service or receiving standard care.

They found the PhysioDirect group had a reduced waiting time for an appointment than those receiving standard care (an average of 7 days compared to 34 days for the standard group).

Almost half (47%) had their problems managed solely by telephone consultations.

In conclusion, the team wrote: "This study provides justification for PhysioDirect as a safe and effective way of reducing delays for advice about musculoskeletal problems for patients referred by general practitioners for physiotherapy. But, in view of the slight reduction in patient satisfaction, our results do not provide a compelling argument in favour of PhysioDirect."

 

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