MSK self-management smartphone app in General Practice

Purpose

To investigate if the GPEP musculoskeletal self management app;

  1. is an acceptable alternative source of information for patients.
  2. results in a reduction in physiotherapy/secondary care referrals, analgesia prescriptions, repeat attendances to general practice.
75%
very satisfied with the app.
75%
would recommend it to a friend or colleague.
62.5%
would otherwise have sought additional support from an NHS provider without access to the app.



11%
reduction in physiotherapy referrals.

67%
reduction in XR requests.

26%
reduction in analgesics prescription.

70%
reduction in GP re-attendance.

Approach

A patient pilot was performed at Westlands Medical Centre (list size 10500) for all patients contacting the surgery with a musculoskeletal condition over a 6 month period.

Access to the app was enabled by contact with reception staff, nursing team and all 7 practice GPs as well as online access through the practice website.

A Read code was created and recorded in the patients notes to enable search and analysis of the required outcomes.

Each patient was requested to complete a user feedback questionnaire made available on line and in paper format.

Outcomes

The author acknowledges the small size of this pilot and accepts the need for a larger study. However this pilot demonstrates the use of technology in the delivery of self-management advice to patients is essential in ensuring the rising wait for healthcare appointments does not begin to effect health outcomes through delayed treatment.

The presentation and delivery of this information through an app is acceptable to patients and can be easily integrated into the current care pathway. 

For the team involved in developing and supporting the GPEP app this pilot has provided evidence to support the use of GPEP MSK self management app and will guide development for improved outcomes. It is clear, however, that to achieve full benefit any further integration of the self-management app into the clinical pathway should be accompanied by further signposting guidance for clinical staff.

To investigate if the GPEP musculoskeletal (MSK) self management app

 

1. is an acceptable alternative source of information for patients;

75% Very satisfied with the app.

75% would recommend it to a friend or colleague.

62.5% would otherwise have sought additional support from an NHS provider without access to the app.

 

2. results in a reduction in physiotherapy/secondary care referrals, analgesia prescriptions, repeat attendances to general practice;

11% reduction in physiotherapy referrals.

67% reduction in XR requests.

26% reduction in analgesics prescription.

70% reduction in GP re-attendance.

Implications

The use of technology in the delivery of self-management advice to patients is essential in ensuring the rising wait for healthcare appointments does not begin to effect health outcomes through delayed treatment. This requires the advice to be presented in a format that is acceptable to patients and easily integrated into the current care pathway. For the team involved in developing and supporting the GPEP app this pilot has provided evidence to support the use of GPEP MSK self management app and will guide development for improved outcomes.

Top three learning points

  1. Sign posting to a digital self-care resource in general practice improves health care efficiency.
  2. A smartphone app is an effective method of providing self-care information.
  3. Work needs to be done to improve the confidence of GPs to sign posting to selfcare resources.

Fund acknowledgements

For the purpose of this project the app has been provided free of charge by GPEP LTD of which the lead author is the funding member.

The project has been supported as part of a service evaluation project by Westlands Medical Centre.

Additional notes

This work was presented at Physiotherapy UK 2019 and International Digital Health & Care Congress 2019. 

Please see the attached Innovations poster below.

To see the smartphone app used in the pilot project, please follow this link: www.gpep.co.uk  

 

For further information about this work please contact Chris Castle