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Physio goes virtual with web-based practice

A physiotherapist has launched a practice on the internet offering advice and ‘personalised’ consultations to clients

Jane Hodgson, who works part time in the NHS and also lectures, has set up www.physiobench.com from her base in Huddersfield, using a network of practitioners including well-known names in sports physiotherapy. Ms Hodgson has worked with a local NHS Physio Direct telephone advice service and believes her online offering has advantages over that model.

She told Frontline: ‘It doesn’t put you on the spot and gives time for considered responses to questions.’ The website provides free general advice and articles on injuries and conditions, such as those related to sports and activities.

For a personal consultation costing £28, visitors must log on to a secure, password-protected part of the site. Ms Hodgson said: ‘It has taken two years to develop the software but it’s a very responsive questionnaire. If someone says they have knee pain, then all the special questions for knee pain will come up.’

Clients receive a personalised exercise and advice programme, plus information on long-term management. They can opt to receive ‘nag’ email alerts that urge them to maintain the programme and are eligible for a follow-up within three months of assessment.

Ms Hodgson said the physios would only treat the injuries they felt would respond to self-management. ‘If, in their judgement, an injury is not appropriate to be treated online, they will refer it to the local hospital or clinic.’ The physio network includes Scott McAllister, of Yorkshire County Cricket Club and Alison Whiteley, who has worked with the Great Britain national cycling team.

Ms Hodgson hoped the service would attract many users, such as sports and fitness enthusiasts and people working or travelling abroad. ‘There’s a whole group of people that we as a profession are missing, in that their injury isn’t severe enough that they want to sit on an NHS waiting list or pay for private treatment, but would really benefit from simple advice and some exercises,’ she said.

CSP professional adviser Pip White said the CSP had received several enquiries from members offering services on the web. She said: ‘Healthcare is a rapidly changing environment and patients want to receive healthcare in different ways.’

Ms White said the position for practitioners regarding insurance and professional liability was very clear: ‘If it’s general advice, you’ve got to keep it general. As soon as you enter into giving specific advice then you are bound by the same regulations as if you were seeing that patient face to face.’

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Article Information

Author(s)

MATTHEW LIMB

Issue date

4 February 2009

Volume number

15

Issue number

3
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