The use of technology in everyday life has grown exponentially in recent years yet the use of technology in healthcare has not kept pace.
This is in spite of national drivers set out by governments, healthcare think tanks and international organisations, which detail how and why healthcare should include some digitisation to deliver efficient services, meet patient expectations, and achieve positive health outcomes.
Embedding technology successfully in practice is rarely a simple task. When done well it can have a hugely positive outcome. There are examples of excellent use of technology to supplement the clinical offer and improve patient flow but there are also opportunities to do this better throughout the profession.
Charlie Park, is Clinical Lead Physiotherapist at IPRS Health and Partner of Helen’s Bay Physiotherapy. He, along with his wife Emma, have been quick to realise the opportunity presented by health informatics. Charlie says: “digital is a crucial part of our offer for nationwide physiotherapy. Where it meets the clinical need and the patient preferences it can prove a vital adjunct to IPRS services. Technology is also a useful part of the service my wife and I offer as part of our growing practice in Helen’s Bay, Northern Ireland. We use an app to support our patients remotely and have had excellent reviews from patients.”
Although Charlie and his wife Emma, and many other members of the profession are utilising informatics as part of their services, it is not the case for everyone. Research shows that health professionals have the desire to increase their digital skills and their use of health informatics and technology in practice, but often lack the confidence or tools to support this.
There is a gap that therefore needs to be bridged, and that's why, in November, the CSP will launch its first Physiotherapy Health Informatics Strategy (PHIS). The strategy is designed to support members to make the best use of informatics in their workplace and to join the dots between members’ aspirations to increase their skills, knowledge and opportunities. We need, however, to exercise caution when selling the ‘digital dream’. Each service will have varying levels of infrastructure, hardware, and software to support change, and that's why the strategy will start with a focus at an individual level, seeking innovative examples of practical application of informatics in physiotherapy. We know that there are many examples of good practice in the private and independent sector, whether from use of data to improve services, use of technology to deliver care, to communicate with patients or any other use of informatics in physiotherapy. We’d love to showcase these examples to the rest of the profession so more can benefit in learning from your successes.
If you know of examples that demonstrate innovative use of informatics in physiotherapy, then let the CSP know by emailing the team behind the strategy atl PHIS@csp.org.uk We look forward to hearing from you and sharing your innovation with the rest of the profession.
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