Tele-triaging for Musculoskeletal Outpatient Physiotherapy – a pilot moving to improve equity of access and reduce DNA’s across the DHB, but particularly in the Porirua region where we have a high population of Maori and Pacifica

Jo-Anne Gibbs1

1Capital And Coast DHB, Porirua, New Zealand

Post covid lock-down, alongside being identified as an area of high DNA’s and a burgeoning wait list, outpatient physiotherapy (musculoskeletal) moved very quickly to pilot a new way of triaging. Previously, we had up to five people triaging our referrals via a common mailbox, but on a site basis with minimal to no dedicated time set aside (Wellington Regional Hospital, Kenepuru Community hospital and Kapiti Health centre). After the improvements in technology and devices afforded during covid levels 4 and 3, we quickly developed our telehealth opportunities, and following in the footsteps of our 3 community teams who were already developing a similar pilot, we went full steam into developing a new way of triaging (with no increase in FTE or resourcing), developing processes and protocols along the way. The initial pilot ran from July to December 2020 – with 1 clinician per day (for between 2-4 hours) triaging across the sites. At that point, we were beginning to see evidence of a decrease in wait list numbers and duration, and a decrease in DNA’s. We therefore decided to embed this new approach as we were beginning to achieve the goals we were striving for. We incorporate telehealth for some patients, sending out of useful resources and home exercise programmes, phoning all Maori and Pacifica plus complex/vulnerable people as identified in the referral and phoning referrers when more clarity is required. We continue to refine our processes and will be expanding to all therapies outpatients as we are able.


Jo-Anne has worked for many years in both private and public health in New Zealand and the United Kingdom, specialising as a musculoskeletal physiotherapist. She currently manages the outpatient physiotherapy and hand therapy teams at Capital and Coast DHB, and is driven to support her team to aspire to achieving equity of access and the best possible outcomes for our people, whilst supporting ongoing clinical excellence within the constraints of a public health service.

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