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 in BMJ suggests.

Providing access to physiotherapy has long been a problem in the NHS with 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 and rising healthcare expectations, 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 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 .

The study involved 2,256 patients aged 18 or over with 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 .

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.

Explore further: Intensive therapy no better than traditional care at speeding up recovery from whiplash

Related Stories

Intensive therapy no better than traditional care at speeding up recovery from whiplash

December 17, 2012
More costly, intensive treatment works no better than usual care at speeding up recovery from whiplash injuries, according to new research published Online First in The Lancet.

Physiotherapy beneficial for people with Parkinson's disease in the short term

September 20, 2012
(Medical Xpress)—Results from a systematic review and meta-analysis led by the University of Birmingham in the UK suggest that physiotherapy benefits people with Parkinson's disease in the short term (< 3 months).

Computer therapy works for young people with depression

April 20, 2012
Adolescents suffering from depression can benefit just as much from specialised computer therapy as they do from one-to-one therapy with a clinician, a study published on bmj.com finds.

Danish health care fast track program reduces cancer patients' treatment, diagnosis wait time

January 26, 2012
In Denmark, implementing a national fast track system for cancer patients reduced the waiting time between a patient's initial meeting with a health care provider and their first treatment by four weeks when comparing 2010 ...

Guided care provides better quality of care for chronically ill older adults

January 17, 2013
Patients who received Guided Care, a comprehensive form of primary care for older adults with chronic health problems, rated the quality of their care much higher than patients in regular primary care, and used less home ...

Recommended for you

Americans misinformed about smoking

August 22, 2017
After voluminous research studies, numerous lawsuits and millions of deaths linked to cigarettes, it might seem likely that Americans now properly understand the risks of smoking.

Women who sexually abuse children are just as harmful to their victims as male abusers

August 21, 2017
"That she might seduce a helpless child into sexplay is unthinkable, and even if she did so, what harm can be done without a penis?"

To reduce postoperative pain, consider sleep—and caffeine

August 18, 2017
Sleep is essential for good mental and physical health, and chronic insufficient sleep increases the risk for several chronic health problems.

Despite benefits, half of parents against later school start times

August 18, 2017
Leading pediatrics and sleep associations agree: Teens shouldn't start school so early.

Doctors exploring how to prescribe income security

August 18, 2017
Physicians at St. Michael's Hospital are studying how full-time income support workers hired by health-care clinics can help vulnerable patients or those living in poverty improve their finances and their health.

In a nutshell: Walnuts activate brain region involved in appetite control

August 17, 2017
Packed with nutrients linked to better health, walnuts are also thought to discourage overeating by promoting feelings of fullness. Now, in a new brain imaging study, researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.