May 1, 2024

New NHS Borders tech partnership sees patients given rapid access to musculoskeletal healthcare

[Scottish Borders] NHS Borders has partnered with leading musculoskeletal (MSK) healthcare provider, EQL, to launch a new digital solution for patients. Phio is now available to all individuals aged 16 or over who are registered with one of the 23 GP practices in Scottish Borders.

From today, eligible patients with a joint, muscle or back injury can log on to the digital Phio platform on any internet-enabled device. Under the expert oversight of EQL’s clinicians and physiotherapists, they will receive a comprehensive digital assessment before being guided towards the most appropriate form of care. This includes urgent attention for 'red flag' symptoms and face-to-face appointments with a GP or physiotherapist as required. 

In addition, patients can now use Phio to access personalised information and tools to support successful self-management of their injury. This includes exercise routines, stretches and remote monitoring from a physiotherapist or clinician. This is the first time that NHS Borders patients have been offered a self-referral facility for MSK issues. 

This partnership has been launched to speed up access to MSK care in the Borders region whilst reducing demand on GPs and primary care services. It follows a successful rollout of Phio to patients in the Highland HSCP area, which saw a significant reduction in MSK care waiting lists.

Sarah Horan, Director of Nursing, Midwifery and AHPs at NHS Borders, comments:

“Many muscle, bone and joint conditions can be very uncomfortable but may be able to be treated at home. Effective self-management helps you to avoid your condition getting worse and potentially needing more treatment.

“If you are having MSK issues, Phio is a great way to guide you to the right care in the right place, and help you manage conditions in a timely, supported way that suits you. Using Phio is entirely a patient’s choice, but it does offer some fantastic benefits in addition to our current Physiotherapy service.”

Michael Guard, Head of Clinical at EQL, comments:

“By empowering patients to take control of their health journey, Phio aims to streamline the pathway to MSK care while providing timely support. The decision to use Phio rests entirely with the patient. It simply serves as an additional avenue for those seeking care. 

“Patients opting to use Phio will provide information about their condition. The clinical data gathered through the online consultation is reviewed by qualified physiotherapists, ensuring patients receive appropriate care, treatment, and advice when needed to prevent their condition worsening.”

Eligible patients with a musculoskeletal injury can find details of how to access Phio at their GP practice or on the NHS Borders website here.


Please find more information on NHS Borders Physiotherapy MSK service here.

About EQL 

EQL was co-founded by health entrepreneur Jason Ward, physiotherapist Peter Grinbergs and operations expert Samantha Medcraft to improve access to world-class musculoskeletal care. 

The EQL team have built a digital, AI-powered platform, Phio, through which people are quickly directed to the right source of support for their muscle or joint problems, or provided with resources for self-management.

Currently, eligible patients can access Phio via their employers, their insurers, or their NHS GP.