Improving how South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust manage their musculoskeletal care

With EMIS Web, staff at the trust’s musculoskeletal (MSK) unit can easily manage the patient journey for every one of their 2,000 monthly referrals.

“We’re the integrated musculoskeletal service, so we cover things like physiotherapy, extended services and GP services. The idea is that the GP will refer their patients to our services. We triage patients and then decide where that patient should actually go. That could be to physiotherapy for a further investigation, to a GP or actually needing to go on to secondary care. Within that, patients will also go back and forth between different services, so a physiotherapist or a GP could see a patient and then move that patient onwards.”

This is how Anne Weetman, operational lead for the Sunderland integrated musculoskeletal service (SIMS) at South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust, explains how patients arrive and move through the MSK unit. It might seem like managing this constant stream of patients – and keeping tabs on who needs to see which healthcare professionals, and when – is a complicated task, yet the unit’s staff are able to keep on top of everything thanks to the support provided by our clinical system.

“EMIS Web is certainly one of the better systems I’ve used in terms of supporting healthcare professionals.”

Anne Weetman, South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust

Simplifying the care process

Key to this successful management is the way staff use EMIS Web to place patients into what they’ve termed ‘pots’. Essentially different sections and lists within the Patient Administration module, these represent the stages of care or separate services that patients pass through. By being able to easily move patients between these pots, everyone can stay up to date with where their patients are in their journey.

“We’ve got an investigation waiting pot that the admin staff control,” continues Anne. “If any of the staff have recorded that patients need an investigation, the patient and their notes will be added into that pot. When the patient comes back from the investigation, the admin team will sort out what needs to be done, from whether they need to call someone to whether a patient needs a face-to-face appointment. They can control that.”

“It’s quite an easy system to use in terms of actually viewing and booking appointments, and finding a slot.”

Anne Weetman, South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust

Setting up appointments after this process is straightforward too, particularly since multiple members of staff are able to organise them within EMIS Web. “We’ve got an admin team who make the patient appointments, but the clinicians can actually make their own review appointments,” mentions Anne, who also explains how admin teams will periodically go into these bookings to make sure that everything is recorded accurately.

“The diary set up is really helpful,” she continues. “It’s very easy to make and see your appointments.”

Improving the flow of information across the service

The MSK unit is also able to access patient information right after a patient has been referred to them by using our clinical system. Anne details how “Patients come in through the Choose and Book on a pro forma. We have a list that comes in as inbound referrals. On a daily basis, we go through that list and put these referrals into waiting for extended scope from a GP or physiotherapist. That’s where the admin team can pull their patient notes from. It actually works quite well, it’s quite easy.”

“Now the flow of notes is good - it’s much easier when you’re seeing a patient.”

Anne Weetman, South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust

Having previously used a different system that didn’t support the unit’s needs in the same way, Anne’s noticed a big difference overall. “This system is better than what we used before,” she explains. “It’s certainly one of the better systems I’ve used in terms of supporting healthcare professionals.”