Nearly one third of Welsh people suffer with MSK complaints including arthritis and back pain
The Welsh Government has teamed up with Connect Health to provide fast-track digital healthcare for patients suffering with back pain who have been unable to get help during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a move to help support the 887,000 people in Wales – 29.3% of the population who suffer with musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions such as arthritis and back pain, the Life Sciences Hub Wales and the Welsh Government has chosen Connect Health, the UK’s largest, independent provider of community MSK and pain services, to roll-out its PhysioNow digital tool, supporting 1000+ patients in an initial eight week pilot.
PhysioNow is a clinically-led chat-bot providing an agile and remote triage and support tool for musculoskeletal conditions. Clinically developed and constantly reviewed and refined sophisticated algorithms guide users to the appropriate pathway, enabling the right care, at the right time, from the right person.
Being implemented as part of the Digital Solutions Fund, PhysioNow will be accessible in multiple languages including Welsh. Users will be able to remotely access an initial assessment 24/7 from anywhere, a positive step for many patients who may be apprehensive about accessing face-to-face services because of the threat of COVID-19.
Connect Health, alongside partners EQL and PhysioSpace Cardiff, will be working with designated Welsh Health Boards to rapidly test the PhysioNow technology within NHS environments, with a potential for scaling up across Wales.
Compared with other digital health solutions on the market which may only contain up to 10 questions, this tool has been clinically developed to adapt to 3000+ scenarios. PhysioNow has been tested by patients with senior clinical input, making it one of the most advanced and comprehensive tools in the field of MSK physiotherapy.
Helen Northmore, Programme Manager for the Digital Health Ecosystem Wales, a collaboration between Life Sciences Hub Wales and the NHS Wales Informatics Service (NWIS), said: “We were impressed with the breadth and quality of applications to the Digital Solutions Fund. The projects selected demonstrated how digital solutions can give people tools to help them manage their condition and their wellbeing in their home or work environment. I am excited to see the results from the rapid pilots later this summer.”
Professor Andrew Walton, Founder and Group Executive Director, Connect Health, said: “During Covid-19 there have been understandable delays to treatment and an increase in sedentary lifestyles which further impacts health and wellbeing, creating a significant accumulation of demand for MSK physiotherapy care.
“We are pleased to have been selected to deliver an innovative digital care pilot by the NHS Wales Covid-19 Digital Solutions Fund. This will allow us to further develop our digital musculoskeletal physiotherapy service for patients across Wales, including those who have had treatment delayed during the pandemic. Work begins immediately to improve access for patients to much needed care and advice.”
Mike Turner, Chief Operating Officer, Connect Heath added: “At Connect Health we strive to be at the forefront of innovation and have been very active in the use of digital health to support people during these challenging times. PhysioNow puts patients in the driving seat, empowering them with tools to take ownership of their health.”
The Welsh Government Covid-19 Digital Solutions Fund is designed to identify technological solutions which can benefit patients with a Covid-19 diagnosis and/or improve systems and delivery of health and care services that have been impacted as a result of Covid-19.
Further information about the fund
Further information about PhysioNow