Physical Therapists reduce referrals to orthopedists with 64%
Research shows that practice-based physical therapists significantly reduce referrals from general practitioners by assessing and treating patients with musculoskeletal disorders (MSK).
MSK conditions are good for 30% of general practice consultations in England. According to NHS officials, this amounts to around 90 million appointments per year. The vast majority of patients who typically see a doctor for problems such as back pain, osteoarthritis or osteoporosis can, according to a study published last month in the British Journal of General Practice, be effectively treated by a physical therapist with 'minimal GP care'.
A total of 8,417 patient contacts were made and, under the scheme, extended physical therapists (ESPs) requested a GP assessment in only 1% of the cases. Only 12% of the patients needed a prescription and 3% needed a 'fit note', both of which could be issued by the doctor without having to make an appointment beforehand. The results suggest that an ESP as a first point of contact practice for patients with MSK conditions can function as an independent and effective alternative for general practitioners. Especially because of the current pressure on GP services, ESPs have a lot to offer in relieving GPs of the MSK component of their caseloads. Within the current climate of considerable barriers to general practice, this will relieve some of the pressure.
The patient receives a specialist MSK assessment immediately at the first presentation and the GP time is released to focus on patients with other medical problems. The authors concluded that the patient gets to see the right person, in the right place and at the right time.
70% of the actual current salary costs of additional clinical pharmacists, physician assistants, first contact physiotherapists and community paramedics - and 100% of the actual current salary costs for social prescribing link workers - will be achieved, up to the relevant maximum amounts.