Andrew Walton, Founder and Executive Chair of Connect Health, reflects on #TheBigRs to date and looks to the future.
From a chance meeting to a sustainable movement for change in MSK
Well what a valuable event #TheBigRs 2.0 was. I wanted to write this blog because, as you may have noticed, I feel very passionately about the sustainability of the MSK professions and there are some things I didn’t say in my opening remarks on Friday as we were all so eager to get on with the day.
I do believe there is a real problem around sustainability. When I hear a comment like “I don’t think things are as bad as you say,” I really worry. As those who commission us increasingly look at value for money (VFM) (quality/outcomes divided by cost) we are potentially vulnerable depending on their standards. I believe MSK physio is at risk in the NHS and private medical insurance worlds unless we drive up quality or decrease costs and provide the compelling evidence to demonstrate the value we deliver. We have seen prices for MSK services in both markets drop by >20% in the last decade.
Commissioners don’t have visibility of the quality/outcomes so assume they aren’t getting good VFM.
For me #TheBigRs is initially about two things;
- Driving up standards by establishing “what good looks like”
- Producing credible information on the benefits to patients and commissioners of investing in quality
In addition, we need to use this information to inform and influence commissioners, system leaders and referrers/patients.
Whilst we all need to influence I have worked with a number of specialist MSK providers (e.g. Pure Sports Med/Six Physio/Spire/Nuffield) in the past couple of years to form a representative trade association. We expect this to have a formal legal status by the end of May and it will be known as the MSK Partners Network (MSK PN). We hope to help providers to share and learn to improve quality and educate the decision makers who fund MSK care in the use of data and information.
I believe that to reverse the trend of dis-investment we have a huge amount to do – agree standards, establish measures, benchmark, share and learn, invest in change. I know from a personal perspective how lengthy and expensive this process can be. Connect started on this journey three years ago, have spent £2m and we are 80% of the way to where we want to be. Although challenging, it is rewarding – and we feel more secure about the future. A number of other providers in the MSK PN will tell you a similar story.
Like any significant challenge, its best to look at it one step at a time. We need to understand where the profession is; for example is US rarely used in 2018 as some suggest? Unbelievably no one knows or at least there are no reported statistics in this area.
I have no data, but I listen to a lot of physios and it feels like there is a lot of latent energy which we can use to power the change required and Connect’s role in all of this is to try to enable and focus this energy for the good of the profession, the taxpayer and the patient.
See you in October!