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ARC15: Physios need evidence-based health apps to use with patients

11 March 2015 - 9:03am

Physiotherapists should be at the forefront of technological innovations, ensuring that NHS-recommended health apps meet the needs of the profession.

ARC 2015 delegate uses iPad 2

Delegates highlighted the use of technology in patient exercise programmes, reducing the length of treatment, and cutting re-referral rates

This was the message that Vikki Albarraque, speaking for London south stewards, gave delegates at the annual representative conference.

The motion called on the CSP to produce guidance for members about health apps and other technology that might be useful in clinical settings and influence patient care.

Ms Albarraque explained that most (86 per cent) of adults in the UK now use the internet but fewer than five per cent do so to benefit their health.

‘This is a large, untapped resource that is being targeted by NHS England in their five year plan  – making it the ideal time for physios to push forward in this area too,’ she said.

‘There is currently a list of apps recommended by the NHS, but it is not robust or effective in its selections.

‘A designer merely had to meet certain criteria and make an application in order for the app to be included in this list. There is no professional or patient review and therefore the quality of recommended apps is severely lacking and there are few that are suitable for physios.’

Money saving technology

Seconding the motion, north London steward Thomas Pearson said that technology could improve patient adherence to exercise programmes. It could also reduce the length of treatment episodes and cut re-referral rates, thereby saving money.

‘How many times have you heard your patients say they have forgotten how to do their exercises or didn’t know how many to do so they didn’t do them at all, or they lost their exercise sheet?’ asked Mr Pearson.

‘Imagine an accredited CSP app where physios could put the exact number of sets and reps for each exercise,’ he said. ‘The app could include videos to ensure that patients use the right technique.’

And it could create alarms to remind patients to complete exercises at certain intervals during the day – all inputted by clinicians, Mr Pearson added.

The motion, calling on the society to devise an evidence-based app for patients and to give members guidance on technological applications they could recommend to patients, was carried.

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