Improving care of patients with back and neck pain through innovative pathways. Final evaluation report for Queensland Health (QH), Clinical Excellence Division

Blythe, Robin and Graves, Nicholas and Osborne, Sonya ORCID: and Davies, Elizabeth and Endicott, Louise and McQueen, Liam (2019) Improving care of patients with back and neck pain through innovative pathways. Final evaluation report for Queensland Health (QH), Clinical Excellence Division. Project Report. Queensland University of Technology, Australian Centre for Health Services Innovation , Brisbane, Australia. [Report]


The problem
Back and neck pain is a widespread problem across Metro North Hospital and Health Service (MNHHS) and Queensland generally. Patients often spend years on waiting lists as they wait for the right care modality to become available, exacerbating their conditions and increasing reliance on medication while delaying their return to work.

The innovation
The back and neck pain pathways project introduced a streamlined triage and treatment pathway to address waiting lists and referral appropriateness. The triage point, known as the Spinal Health Hub, liaised with primary care to find the most appropriate modality for patient referrals. Patients were treated at the Healthy Spine Clinic where they were then treated or triaged based on further examination.

Key findings
The project was extremely successful at reducing waiting lists and costs per patient. Over a typical 2-year window, patients were more likely to avoid unnecessary services, inappropriate referrals, and long wait times. While health improvements were unlikely compared to standard care, there was an 84% chance that the program reduced costs, and the expected cost saving per patient was over $1,700. Over the MNHHS catchment area, this could reach nearly $6 million in savings annually. This greatly exceeds the cost of the intervention, with a positive impact expected after just one month’s worth of patients have been triaged.

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Item Type: Report (Project Report)
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Report not released to public by Queensland Health. For more information contact
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Date Deposited: 03 Aug 2021 04:12
Last Modified: 10 Nov 2021 04:08
Uncontrolled Keywords: back pain; neck pain; waiting list; back clinic
Fields of Research (2008): 11 Medical and Health Sciences > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111799 Public Health and Health Services not elsewhere classified
Fields of Research (2020): 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4203 Health services and systems > 420312 Implementation science and evaluation
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970111 Expanding Knowledge in the Medical and Health Sciences
Socio-Economic Objectives (2020): 20 HEALTH > 2002 Evaluation of health and support services > 200206 Health system performance (incl. effectiveness of programs)

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