National evaluation of remote physiotherapy services

How big a role will remote physiotherapy services play in the future of rehabilitation? Get involved in an evaluation of remote physiotherapy service delivery in the UK.

Since the UK lockdown at the end of March 2020, all non-essential face-to-face physiotherapy stopped and services rapidly moved to delivering rehabilitation remotely.

Physiotherapy services have demonstrated their ability to adapt and innovate to continue providing patient-centred care. While the move to remote approaches has been effective in some areas, in others there have been challenges.

Comparison between remote and face-to-face models of service delivery is vital so that looking to the future we know how to reconfigure rehabilitation services in a way that is equitable and effective for patients and makes best use of resources.

The impact of remote physiotherapy delivery

The CSP has commissioned a research team at the University of Manchester (UoM) to evaluate the impact of remote physiotherapy delivery for a wide range of patients and settings.

The project will capture learning about new remote rehabilitation models and ways of working alongside the evidence for digital rehabilitation before Covid-19. Findings will help us: 

  • Share innovative approaches and new ways of working.
  • Learn which technologies have worked well in different contexts and where remote service delivery is less effective. 
  • Provide recommendations for successful implementation and examples of good rehabilitation service models. 

Dr Helen Hawley-Hague, a National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) research fellow within the School of Health Sciences at the UoM and a member of the CSP’s Digital and Informatics Physiotherapy Group, is leading the project alongside Sarah Tyson, professor and physiotherapist at the UoM and a fellow of the CSP. Dr Emma Stanmore, senior lecturer and deputy lead for the Healthy Ageing Research Group in the UoM’s School of Health Sciences, and Dr Reena Lasardo, research associate within the School of Health Sciences, are core members of the project team.

The project has the following components: 

  • Rapid review of existing evidence around remote physiotherapy and rehabilitation.
  • Online scoping survey of CSP members’ experiences to map remote physiotherapy delivery.
  • Development of case studies encompassing a range of settings, patient groups and types of technology. The case studies will evaluate patients’ and physiotherapists’ experiences, usability of technology, costs of service change and the benefits and challenges of remote service delivery.
  • A review and evaluation of patient group blogs, website and forums.
  • Workshops with physiotherapists and patients to sense check emerging themes.
  • Development of recommendations and guidance.
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