Take a look at your news feed and it's clear to see the rapid increase of sedentary lifestyle is a major concern. According to the British Heart Foundation's (BHF) 2017 Physical Inactivity and Sedentary Behaviour report, "around 20 million adults in the UK are physically inactive". The Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine UK (FSEM) estimate "one in four of the population in England does less than 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity a week", while the BHF report approximates the cost to our healthcare system could be as much as £1.2 billion a year.
The launch of the FSEM's Moving Medicine tool is both timely and essential. This new resource will provide healthcare professionals with information, evidence and advice about physical activity, enabling straightforward conversations with patients about physical activity during consultations.
The collaboration between so many healthcare professionals, alongside the partnership with heavyweight organisations like Public Health England and Sport England, highlights its credibility. The tool's strength lie in the consultative approach to its creation, working not only with healthcare professionals but also patients to provide step-by-step guidance.
I'm a big fan of the 'scripted' 1 and 5 minute chats and longer conversations. These provide healthcare professionals with a good range of accessible 'avenues'. It is vital to capitalise on doctor, nurse and physiotherapist patient contact time and give healthcare professionals the information they need. Using the new tool they can advise patients on how physical activity can help to manage their condition, as well as preventing other diseases and crucially helping to aid their recovery.
I do though have concerns about the lack of 'call to action'. What do I mean by this? A GP identifies a patient needs to be more active and has motivated them using the decisional balance tools, but what now? The patient needs to know: "Where do I go and do this?" i worry this could be a missed opportunity. Will the tool raise more questions than it answers for the GP: "Where do I send the patient?" "What is available?" While I applaud the use of activities of daily living in the information sheets for cancer, type 2 diabetes and depression etc., there doesn't seem to be a clear 'joined-up' system between existing providers of relevant programmes and the Moving Medicine tool. In essence, the detail is missing for this 'over-arching' tool.
Also consider: will the data from the Moving Medicine website be shared with public health programme providers? Will we find out how often the website is being visited, accessed and used? I'm passionate about information sharing, as it's a means to demonstrate how effective Exercise on Referral (EoR) and other programmes are, and is one of the main reasons we developed our software. It would be great if the developers of this new tool could share their statistics, so we can identify the need for services we provide.
The Moving Medicine Tool provides the essential first steps of 'what' and 'why', but we still need to fill in the important 'how' gap.