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Rheumatology (United Kingdom) ; 62(Supplement 2):ii31-ii32, 2023.
Article in English | EMBASE | ID: covidwho-2322884


Background/Aims Long Rheumatology waiting lists in the UK were further affected by the COVID-19 pandemic;resulting in negative impacts upon the timeliness and efficiency of patient care. The use of Advanced Practitioners within Rheumatology care pathways has been shown to be safe and effective;they can support the Rheumatology workforce and expedite care where patients are appropriately triaged to them. As part of a service provision change in a NHS Trust, an Advanced Practice Physiotherapist (APP) post was funded with the intent to harness these benefits. Initial utilisation of the APP appointments within the Rheumatology provision was found to be low and could be improved. A Quality Improvement (QI) Project was initiated, with the aim to increase APP appointment utilisation to at least 85% over a period of four months, and for at least 75% of these appointments to contain patients who had been appropriately triaged. Methods The 'Model for Improvement' was chosen as the QI approach. The project was led by an APP. Firstly, a stakeholder analysis was performed to identify staff with influence and interest in the project. A root cause analysis found lack of awareness of triaging clinicians and challenges with booking processes as potential reasons for lowerthan- expected appointment utilisation. Change interventions were devised and tested over three Plan, Do, Study, Act (PDSA) cycles. PDSA one developed communication with booking and triage staff to clarify these processes with them. PDSA two educated clinical staff about the APP role, triage criteria and the booking procedures confirmed in PDSA one. PDSA three focused upon sustaining change by reinforcement of the topics established in PDSA two among staff. Outcome measures used were the percentage of available APP appointments utilised per week, and the percentage of these which contained patients who were appropriately triaged. Results APP appointment utilisation increased from a mean of 22% pre-project to 61% during the change intervention period. Sixty-three patients were seen over the 17-week change intervention period;of which 86% had been appropriately triaged. Data showed that 70% of the patients directed to the APP were managed by them (24% discharged and 46% reviewed). Of the remaining patients, 13% were followed up by a Rheumatologist, 12% did not attend and 5% had an alternative outcome such as awaiting advice. Conclusion This QI project led to an improvement in Rheumatology care provision locally. Engagement with support staff, education of clinical staff and implementation of clear standard operating procedures improved the utilisation of the Rheumatology APP resource. Results suggest that the APP role was effective locally in managing appropriately triaged patients, without a negative effect on patient care or other services. Continuing to improve utilisation will support management of the Rheumatology waiting list and improve patient care.