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Physios lack information about workplace technology, informatics survey shows

21 May 2014 - 3:49pm

Many physiotherapists do not have NHS email accounts that would enable them to send secure emails to public sector colleagues, a health informatics survey shows.


Nearly half of respondents were either ‘unsatisfied’ or ‘very unsatisfied’ with the level of information about technology provided by their employer

More than 300 physiotherapists responded to an online questionnaire, which was conducted by the National Allied Health Professionals Informatics Strategic Taskforce (NAHPIST). Of these, nearly 37 per cent said they do not have an account.

The NHS email service, NHSmail, is designed so that sensitive and confidential information is kept safe. Users sign up to a code of use when they register to confirm that they will use the system appropriately and maintain its security.

The survey found that nearly 76 per cent of physiotherapists do not know whether their department is listed on NHS Choices, the health service’s main website.

Nearly half of respondents were either ‘unsatisfied’ or ‘very unsatisfied’ with the level of information about technology provided by their employer. One in two said that data protection was on the agenda for their departmental meetings.

One physiotherapist complained about not being supported by appropriate equipment, training and administrative staff to move to a ‘paperless’ NHS. ‘I am happy to keep up with technology, but in an office where computers are shared, this just isn’t possible,’ the physio said.


The physiotherapists had a positive view of telehealth, according to the survey. Nearly 80 per cent saw it as a way to help patients; 57 per cent said it enables patients to take more control of their own health and 51 per cent said it helps in the management of long-term conditions.

A smaller number, 15 per cent, saw telehealth as a move to cut costs and 4.5 per cent said it meant nothing to them at all.

The NAHPIST informatics survey was open from 27 February to 31 March 2014. It was coordinated by the British and Irish Orthoptic Society

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Steve Tolan, CSP head of practice, said that physiotherapists should identify who in their organisation is responsible for health informatics and make it known that they want to be involved in local development projects.

‘Data and technology in healthcare is not just for the expert few', he said. ‘It surrounds us in our day-to-day lives and healthcare needs to keep up with innovation in a way that patients have come to expect in other sectors as customers.’



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