Kirsten Lord, founder and Chief Clinical Officer of PhysioWizard® shares her views and discusses the importance of self-management for MSK patients. She explains why we should be empowering patients to adopt technology in healthcare to recover faster during the pandemic.
Patients want empowerment over their health and healthcare providers want to empower patients. This dynamic is generating some profound changes in healthcare approaches for the 21st century.
I started PhysioMedics in 2010 when I noticed my patients becoming increasingly engaged with Dr. Google. With alarming speed, the internet had become the first line of enquiry for most people before they visited a healthcare professional. But there’s a catch.
Because of the sheer volume of information available and the inherent issues of finding validated medical information in a largely unregulated environment, it’s becoming ever more difficult to find the correct and up to date material to suit your problem. And patients get it wrong too.
Often, by the time they arrive in the treatment room, many are anxious about pre-conceived conclusions they’ve arrived at, frequently based on the wrong information they gather prior to seeing any healthcare professional. Given the potential for self-misdiagnosis, they may even be in front of the wrong clinician altogether.
Google receives more than 1 billion health questions every day or 70,000 each minute. (Source: Beckers Hospital Review).
A study in 2014 identified that “The popularity of the internet has enabled unprecedented access to health information. As a largely unregulated source, there is potential for inconsistency in the quality of information that reaches the patient.” (Source: NCBI)
However, a further study also identified the benefits that accurate health information can provide. The report found that “Healthcare usage decreased by 12% after providing high-quality evidence-based online health information. These findings show that digital health can be effective to improve self-management and reduce healthcare usage in times of increasing healthcare costs.” (Source: BMJ)
Self-help - Advice, exercises and guidance
This is what people are looking for and what PhysioWizard® does well. Because of the challenges of accessing healthcare services during COVID, people have turned to technology more than ever to learn how they can manage their own condition. Industry leaders claim that COVID has accelerated digital health adoption by 5 years and see these tools as providing a frictionless and much wanted consumer experience for the patient.
The way companies deliver services to patients has to change and digital health supports the ‘S’ in a company’s overall ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) agenda by supporting workforce wellbeing. As a clinician, it is genuinely upsetting to see people with chronic conditions that stem from receiving poor advice, seeing the wrong clinician or service, or being lost in the system. By providing the right information when the person first develops symptoms, many problems can be completely avoidable. There is a large body of evidence that shows early advice and guidance leads to a faster recovery and matching people with this information was my motivation to develop the PhysioWizard®.
Patients want to know whether their problem is serious or not and who to go to for help if they need it. The PhysioWizard® assessment takes people through a comprehensive series of medical questions first, to identify medical issues or more serious problems. This screening gives reassurance, reduces anxiety and has been particularly important during COVID, whilst it’s difficult to see a GP or healthcare professional easily. By completing the assessment online (24/7) in the comfort of your home, our report helps patients discover any relevant symptoms so they can raise these with their GP, NHS111 or A&E.
The next step is self-help. We offer advice and exercises, based on a thorough assessment gives confidence to start moving again. When patients are in pain the first instinct is to stop moving and often become anxious or worried about their condition. But motion is lotion and has magic powers to help people recover. Not only that, by helping people to gain a better understanding of their condition and offering practical tips on self-care, mental health is supported and there is less likelihood of developing persistent/chronic symptoms.
Acute versus Chronic
Current PhysioWizard® advice and exercises focus on people with acute conditions. Because so many people experience chronic MSK conditions though we are now developing modules to help manage persistent problems or pain. Knowledge is power and power is freedom to be the best you can be.
There are no shortcuts in medicine
MSK data is awash with errors and biases so is an unreliable foundation on which to build a safe clinical tool. Creating an assessment that supports comprehensive and safe clinical care requires painstaking development, numerous types of specialist clinicians, clinical trials and time. PhysioWizard® has been refined over a 10-year period, then fine-tuned by clinical teams belonging to many of the major healthcare companies with bases in the UK and Australia. The platform is the cumulative knowledge of 100s of years of clinical experience, drawn from a wide pool of diverse experts and is designed to support our frontline clinicians in reaching even greater standards of care.