Web-based assessment tool streamlines patient access to Suffolk physiotherapy

An online system to help physiotherapists assess patients in advance of an appointment and speed up treatment where needed has been created by physiotherapists working with the IM&T Department at Suffolk PCT. SuffolkPhysio, devised by Physiotherapists Joannah Keller and Phillip Dale is a web portal that allows patients to complete an assessment form online with details of their symptoms, past medical history and medications. This is then triaged by trained physiotherapists who assess the information and either book an appointment if urgent or send advice and exercises via email.

The system has been developed with assistance from Health Enterprise East (HEE), the regional NHS Innovation Hub and Suffolk Support Services which provides IT help to NHS organisations in Suffolk. SuffolkPhysio is designed to complement the current system which involves physiotherapists telephoning patients to obtain information. This is very time-consuming and current resources are unable to handle the demand. With the online method, an assessment can be made quickly and treatment and advice actioned.  As physiotherapy is moving towards self-referral, rather than solely by a GP, the portal provides an ideal tool for fast and effective triage.

HEE played a key role in reviewing the innovation, providing feedback from other trusts and offering development support from its Proof of Concept Fund. HEE is also assisting the inventors and Suffolk Support Services to market the innovation to other NHS trusts and companies through licensing.  Dr Chandu Patil, Senior E-health Consultant at HEE said: “ SuffolkPhysio is another excellent example of using IT to revolutionise a process that results in a faster and more efficient service for the patient. It enables physiotherapists to triage patients in order to prioritise treatment where required and to provide advice and exercises in less urgent cases. Not only can this innovation be rolled out in other NHS trusts but it could also be modified for use by other specialties”.

The NHS Suffolk Physiotherapy website is at: www.suffolkphysio.nhs.uk