The University of Brighton’s development of data collection tools and research into private sector physiotherapy practice has led to the launch of the first UK Quality Assurance awards for private practitioners and clinics.
Patient experience in the physiotherapy private sector has always been extremely varied because of a lack of quality standards and benchmarking. Increasingly, patients are holding physiotherapy services accountable for the quality and equity of care provision. Yet, in order to demonstrate and account for the delivery and quality of their clinical services, practitioners need to be collecting data in a robust and consistent way. This includes patient demographics, clinical presentation, service delivery and outcomes of care. Now, the Quality Assured awards, managed by Physio First, the trade association for chartered physiotherapists in private practice, provide standardisation for the evaluation of patient outcomes across the sector.
Adopting QA standards enables practitioners to benchmark their practice, provide robust evaluation and tailor the marketing of their services. In April 2019, BUPA endorsed the QAC, recognising it as part of their commissioning process and by 2020, 811 practitioners and 55 clinics across the UK had worked towards the QA schemes.
The University of Brighton’s musculoskeletal research programme
Prior to 2005, the University of Brighton’s musculoskeletal research programme had developed a range of standardised data collection tools to facilitate data capture. This provided practitioners with an opportunity to show how their services are efficient, timely and equitable. This work led to an initial research programme with Physio First and the 3000 strong professional network of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. The research designed and implemented a number of condition-specific standardised data collection tools for use by their members. The research has improved the quality of services through a shorter but integrated standardised data collection system and the development of an accessible patient-reported outcomes measure.
A patient expectation study identified gaps between expectations and the delivery of care, which could be used to improve the quality of care leading to the Brighton musculoskeletal Patient Reported Outcome Measure (BmPROM), piloted in a private practice prior to extensive testing across five NHS trusts eventually being accepted as a reliable and valid measure to evaluate physiotherapy treatment.
Collaborative longitudinal research led by University of Brighton with Physio First (the trade organisation representing chartered physiotherapists in private practice in the UK) and a professional network of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) led to a significant increase in memberships for the organisation enabling them to provide a standardised and optimal service across the sector. These systematised data collection and guidance tools have affected affiliated clinics, health care providers and individual practitioners, by raising the standard of care across the UK.