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Clinicians can Impart Telephone Physiotherapy with Same Positive Result

Update Date: Jan 30, 2013 03:03 AM EST

Advice regarding the initial course of physiotherapy can just as effectively be given over the phone as in face-to-face contact, and yields the same good result. A recent study finds that it not only speeds up the physiotherapy process, but also reduces the unnecessary wait time for patients seeking physiotherapy.

The study was led by researchers from the University of Bristol and was published online in the British Medical Journal.

The National Health Service has been struggling for a long time to hasten the process of getting physiotherapy treatment. However, the waiting list for it can run for weeks to months. Also, the list consists of those patients who need advice about physiotherapy which can be easily given over the phone. Such patients will not have any extra benefit by an actual visit to the physiotherapist.

With the life expectancy of an average human being increasing, clinicians will have to think about the different ways of providing health care, and telephonic physiotherapy advice is one of them, though a lot of further studies need to be done on it before it can be successfully implemented.

Scientists from all over the U.K. tested the efficiency of a service called 'Physiodirect' which imparts the initial physiotherapy advice to patients over the phone and does not require the patients to visit them. The Physiodirect service providers claim to have lessened the wait time and have become popular with patients. The researchers then compared the effectiveness of Physiodirect with the existing care provided.

In their study, done between July and December 2009, the researchers enlisted 2,256 adult patients who were suffering from musculoskeletal problems. Out of these volunteers, 1,513 were given the option of Physiodirect and 743 were given the usual method of care. Out of the 1,513 patients recommended for Physiodirect, 711 of them were dealt with over the phone, which is almost half the numbers. The number of face-to face consultations required or physiotherapy appointments required was also found to be also less when compared to the usual treatment.

The Physiodirect patient process of getting physiotherapy treatment was also faster, as it saved the unnecessary wait time for consultations, which can be done over the phone. The wait for physiotherapy treatment was also shorter, for seven days, as opposed to the usual 34 days and thus it also ensured that more people turned up for the appointments instead of canceling them.

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