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Using routine referral data for patients with knee and hip pain to improve access to specialist care

Button, Kate, Spasic, Irena, Playle, Rebecca, Owen, David, Lau, Mandy, Hannaway, Liam and Jones, Stephen 2020. Using routine referral data for patients with knee and hip pain to improve access to specialist care. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 21 , 66. 10.1186/s12891-020-3087-x

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Abstract

Background Referral letters from primary care contain a large amount of information that could be used to improve the appropriateness of the referral pathway for individuals seeking specialist opinion for knee or hip pain. The primary aim of this study was to evaluate the content of the referral letters to identify information that can independently predict an optimal care pathway. Methods Using a prospective longitudinal design, a convenience sample of patients with hip or knee pain were recruited from orthopaedic, specialist general practice and advanced physiotherapy practitioner clinics. Individuals completed a Knee or hip Osteoarthritis Outcome Score at initial consultation and after 6 months. Participant demographics, body mass index, medication and co-morbidity data were extracted from the referral letters. Free text of the referral letters was mapped automatically onto the Unified Medical Language System to identify relevant clinical variables. Treatment outcomes were extracted from the consultation letters. Each outcome was classified as being an optimal or sub-optimal pathway, where an optimal pathway was defined as the one that results in the right treatment at the right time. Logistic regression was used to identify variables that were independently associated with an optimal pathway. Results A total of 643 participants were recruited, 419 (66.7%) were classified as having an optimal pathway. Variables independently associated with having an optimal care pathway were lower body mass index (OR 1.0, 95% CI 0.9 to 1.0 p = 0.004), named disease or syndromes (OR 1.8, 95% CI 1.1 to 2.8, p = 0.02) and taking pharmacologic substances (OR 1.8, 95% CI 1.0 to 3.3, p = 0.02). Having a single diagnostic procedure was associated with a suboptimal pathway (OR 0.5, 95% CI 0.3 to 0.9 p < 0.001). Neither Knee nor Hip Osteoarthritis Outcome scores were associated with an optimal pathway. Body mass index was found to be a good predictor of patient rated function (coefficient − 0.8, 95% CI -1.1, − 0.4 p < 0.001). Conclusion Over 30% of patients followed sub-optimal care pathway, which represents potential inefficiency and wasted healthcare resource. A core data set including body mass index should be considered as this was a predictor of optimal care and patient rated pain and function.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Computer Science & Informatics
Medicine
Healthcare Sciences
Centre for Trials Research (CNTRR)
Publisher: BioMed Central
ISSN: 1471-2474
Funders: Health and Care Research Wales
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 4 February 2020
Date of Acceptance: 22 January 2020
Last Modified: 06 Feb 2020 22:47
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/129284

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