Musculoskeletal (MSK) injuries are a major burden for New Zealand. Telephone clinical support offers relief for patients, national health systems, employers and insurers.
Musculoskeletal (MSK) disorders are the second highest cause of disability worldwide[i]. In New Zealand, one quarter of adults suffer from an MSK disorder, and they are the leading cause of disability, consuming at least 25% of the country’s annual health costs.[ii] Indeed, a worldwide study found that up to 80% of people suffer from back pain in their lifetime, and 50% of the working population is afflicted by incapacitating back pain at least once a year[iii].
Mobile solutions for an immobile population
The demand for face to face MSK consultations has grown and is further increased by a society which is getting older, gaining weight and becoming more sedentary. Paradoxically, our immobile society and the demand for face to face services have grown hand in hand with a culture that craves instant, mobile access to medical information, yet not always from reliable sources.
In addition to easing the burden on face to face services, telephonic clinical support satisfies the need for home or work- based access, with treatment and advice that patients can trust.
Telephonic clinical support incorporates another feature that is making MSK care more efficient, with “triage” services that identify conditions and needs before a face-to-face consultation takes place.
However, telephonic support goes beyond merely assessing a patient’s condition, with trained practitioners providing patients with self-management strategies that can even avoid a face to face consultation altogether.
Good for society
Telephonic support is already making a positive difference in many countries around the world. Among the reasons for its success are:
- flexible hours and convenient access
- more efficient use of face to face consultations
- less need for face-to-face consultations and therefore reduce burden on health systems
- improved outcomes for some of the most common conditions
Good for employers
With 50% more patients assessed per hour over the phone[iv] than face-to-face, telephonic support offers considerable benefits to employers and insurers:
- decreased rates of absenteeism
- shorter periods of absenteeism and reduced risk of recurrence
- significant cost savings
- more efficient use of other areas of healthcare cover
“The TraumaCare support line has really helped me manage my condition.” – John O’Connor, back pain sufferer
MSK injuries often involve various medical specialties. In order to give adequate support, a clinical telephone service provider requires experienced, well-trained staff, who are in turn supported by a larger, established medical services organisation.
One such service is TraumaCare by Best Doctors, who have also published a white paper on clinical telephone support for MSK patients in the UK. Written by Colin Natali, consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at Princess Grace Hospital and Lister Hospital in London, the paper provides more information on services with the potential to help millions of MSK patients and ease the burden on health systems around the world.
To read the Best Doctors White Paper, click here:
[i] Storheim K, Zwart J-A. Ann Rheum Dis 2014;73:949–950
[iv] Gamlin, J. Grove, S. Foster, N. Salisbury, C. Williams, B. (2011) The evidence for and against ‘PhysioDirect’ telephone assessment and advice services. Physiotherapy. 97 (2011) 78–82.