Physiotherapists are swapping long journeys on rural roads for the speed of the information superhighway by treating patients using online videos.
NHS Lanarkshire is introducing a new digital rehabilitation programme, featuring individualised ‘workout videos’ on the web.
A recent pilot of the system in Lanarkshire cut travel time for community physiotherapists and let them spend much more of their working day assessing patients.
The initiative also benefits those who are receiving physio, according to NHS Lanarkshire head of physiotherapy services Janie Thomson.
She said: “The programme is remotely managed from community hospitals, reducing travel for physiotherapists, often to rural locations.
“The pilot project showed it tripled our capacity as it meant more staff time was available to assess patients’ needs, set treatment goals and prescribe individualised rehabilitation programmes. People were not waiting to get started.
“The high-definition exercise and rehabilitation videos have tailored instructions for those undergoing rehab. People can access them on their home device, such as a phone or laptop. The physio oversees the programme remotely by logging in back at base and progressing or reducing the exercises according to how the patient is getting on.
“The method leads to better self-management among patients, who find the visual instructions easy to follow. They can log their own progress and message staff independently for advice.”
She added: “Healthcare support workers follow up patients by telephone or through home visits. Patients who have no web access, are unable to operate the system or require physical assistance can have the programme delivered by a support worker.”
The initiative uses Salaso, a web-based platform for prescribing and delivering rehabilitation programmes.
The programme reflects the aims of NHS Lanarkshire’s new healthcare strategy, Achieving Excellence, which is currently out for public consultation. The strategy includes the goals of increasing self-management among patients and using technology to streamline treatment.