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Putting patient self-referral into practice

Physiotherapists should make the case for self-referral and implement it as part of ongoing practice improvement. Download detailed information here.

File 150378Engagement with stakeholders is repeatedly highlighted as the key to successfully implementing self-referral. Evidence highlights the importance of targeted advocacy strategies with key stakeholders.

If you have facts and statistics for local demographics and service provision, and understand the needs of your stakeholders, you are well equipped to effectively market your service with a strong solutions-focus.

Successfully implementing patient self-referral has three fundamental aspects:

  1. Relationships with local key stakeholders
  2. Knowing and understanding stakeholder needs
  3. Awareness of your local environment

Implementing self-referral

Since self-referral does not lead to an increase in activity, services do not need to develop a business case, but rather a service improvement plan.

'Service improvement can be achieved within existing resources,' concluded an open-access walk in clinic team in Port Talbot, Wales.

Self-referral should be promoted as one way of accessing physiotherapy services, not as fast-track access. It is not a change in the therapy given, or to the waiting times to treatment.

In Southern Devon, a 72-hour self-referral to musculoskeletal outpatient services model has reported a 70% reduction in DNA rate, and that 33% of patients are seen only once. Treatment intervention is given in the acute phase rather than once the condition has become chronic.

Physiotherapists at a community therapy service in Dundee spent a week visiting GP practices to discuss what physiotherapy can do. They highlighted examples where physiotherapy may have been a better option to orthopaedic referral, and developed key relationships with the orthopaedic team.

These activities, they reported, were paramount to the success of their self-referral service.

Download: key considerations for implementing self-referral

Download key considerations for implementing self-referral, which goes into detail on the following nine questions:

  1. Do you have a thorough understanding of local demographics?
  2. Have you fully engaged with all key stakeholders?
  3. Have you made every effort to bring down your waiting list?
  4. Have you read research, evidence, and spoken to existing self-referral servies?
  5. Do you have a communications and marketing plan, including the visibility of your service on electronic referral systems?
  6. Are your monitoring and evaluation processes ready?
  7. Do you have the appropriate support skills within your service?
  8. Are clinical staff prepared and signed up to a three-month run-in period?
  9. How will you demonstrate impact?

Self-referral to physiotherapy:


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