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Capturing Unserved Musculoskeletal Patients in the UK with Digital Physiotherapy Technology

With MSK problems comprising over 30% of GP appointments, it is clear that such disorders are a heavy burden on the NHS, causing long wait times which in turn exacerbate the original problem. Restructuring care pathways alone will not be enough to alleviate such stress on the NHS, indeed a multi-faceted approach is required.

October 23, 2023  3 min reading

Physiotherapy is essential to patient outcomes, both as a preemptive measure or treatment option following an injury, operation or diagnosed health condition. Despite this, a new report by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy has claimed that currently in the UK “millions miss out” on such services, which should be “universally available as an unmissable part of treatment”.

People with Parkinson’s who complete a programme of rehabilitation to support self-management can see a 50% improvement in their health related quality of life. Thousands of people with MS rely on rehabilitation services but too many can’t access this support, and this situation got worse during the pandemic. Indeed, 70% of people were not able to access a rehabilitation professional when they needed it and 34% reported their MS symptoms having got worse, affecting their mobility, confidence and independence. Furthermore, in some integrated care systems (ICS), median referral to treatment time numbers at 25.5 weeks.

As a response to such access issues the NHS’s Long Term Plan seeks to change the traditional referral system in the UK. 2024 plans look to restructure care pathways for all adults in England, providing access to an MSK first contact practitioner (FCP) rather than having to go through their local GP. However,  RAND Europe has found that unless the UK can increase the supply of this skilled workforce, which currently has attrition rates as high as 15%, this direct access, FCP model would lead to increased wait times, unlikely to save costs for the NHS. 

It is clear there is a gap between the demand and supply of public physiotherapy services in the UK with ever-increasing pressure on NHS services to serve musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions which affect over a third of the entire British population.

How Can Computer Vision AI Help?

Computer vision AI can help provide convenient, digital physiotherapy that does not compromise on quality of care due to the following offerings:

  • Individuals can access physiotherapy from any device with a camera, based on their individual rehabilitation needs
  • Real-time feedback and corrective guidance that ensure patients are executing movements and exercises correctly and safely
  • Red-flag reporting for providers to ensure that physical therapists can engage with patients when they are not adequately completing their HEP
  • Clear performance tracking so that physical therapists have vision into the patient’s improvement, can communicate with patients when necessary, and can modify patient recovery plans when appropriate
  • Behavior-based notifications that improve patient adherence and drive improved patient engagement

The average number of physiotherapy sessions needed for a patient in the UK is case dependent (varying due to the severity of the condition) although on average this number has been estimated to be around five appointments. 

Kemtai’s technology allows a patient to access high-quality physical therapy whilst freeing up space for clinicians to see other patients. Indeed, many patients can be seen digitally, being tended to at home with functional and ROM assessments within 2 cm of accuracy. This moves patients out of the high-risk environments like the hospital and GP where they are at risk of contracting further disease. Back within their domestic setting, patients are likely to feel more comfortable whilst still accessing exceptional health care.

The NHS, founded on providing ‘universal access to healthcare’, seeks to offer a standardised service for those across the nation. Whether you are a young individual living within a metropolitan area with high demand for healthcare (leading to reduced capacity), or a senior living in a rural area with reduced access to such services, Kemtai’s capabilities align with the NHS constitution of providing a comprehensive service, available to all.