The power of digitisation

Patient feedback is critical for developing and improving services, but gaining and using the data effectively is often complex and challenging

Beth Webster FCP
Beth Webster FCP and extended scope physiotherapist and co-governance lead for County Durham and Darlington NHS Trust

To help drive fundamental patient-informed improvements to our physiotherapy services (musculoskeletal, first contact, women’s health, rheumatology, acute musculoskeletal, ESCAPE-pain), I worked with NHS-owned digital health company Health Call.  

The new tailored digital solution sends the patient a link to the questionnaire direct from their patient record via SMS/email. The patient completes the questionnaire using their own device. The digital format captures more usable patient data, improves data efficiency enabling effortless collection of quantitative responses plus qualitative responses via text boxes. This enhanced data quality has led to making insightful changes to the services, improving patient experience and satisfaction.

One example is the FCPs who trialled the digital system to develop the new service. Improvements based on patient feedback include: 1) triaging suitable referrals straight from the waiting list directly into FCP, reducing waiting times, improving the patient journey with correct management quickly; 2) development of videos, screen savers, posters and social media posts to publicise the service so reducing GP appointments used for MSK problems; 3) FCP evening clinics improving inclusivity to the workforce population; and 4) FCP use of Fitnote to improve patient care. I presented this data recently to Amanda Pritchard (CEO, NHS England). 

Similarly, the single point of access rheumatology service has specialist physiotherapists collecting patient feedback using the digital platform – helping improve processes which could better the new service. 

This bespoke platform has increased response rate (from 27-38%), patient engagement, and quality of feedback. The digital technology has significantly streamlined the process allowing data captured to be filtered and analysed per physiotherapy service monthly.

Clinical and admin time is saved along with reducing the risk of data loss (from original paper format). Overall, the successful use of the platform provides essential patient informed feedback generating considerable improvements to our physiotherapy services. 

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