Image of a woman holding her lower back in pain depicting NICE's new recommendation of seven digital technologies

NICE recommends new digital technologies for millions with low back pain

Millions of NHS patients could benefit from seven newly-recommended technologies to help with their low back pain, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has announced.

The technologies come in the form of web-based apps or digital platforms and offer a range of resources, including access to multi-disciplinary teams, guided advice accompanied by video demonstrations, and motivational notifications.

They include:

  • getUBetter
  • Hinge Health Digital MSK Clinic
  • Kaia App
  • Pathway through pain
  • selfBACK
  • SupportBack

The technologies could be offered to people aged 16 and over with non-specific low back pain. NICE hopes the draft guidance can reduce inequalities in musculoskeletal service access, reduce waiting lists, cut GP appointments, and alleviate demand on physiotherapists.

                                                                      Video credit: Canva

Either a GP or other healthcare professional would need to assess the patient before they are offered one of the technologies – although some of the apps provide assessment features of their own, making it possible for some people with low back pain symptoms to self-refer.

Before they are offered to patients however, the technologies need to gain regulatory approval and meet NHS England’s digital technology assessment criteria. Once they have been rolled out to NHS patients, evidence of the technologies’ clinical and cost-effectiveness will be gathered over the course of three years.

Musculoskeletal conditions account for 30% of GP consultations every year, according to NICE. UK Health Security Agency figures are also highlighted, which show over nine million people in England alone live with long-term back pain.

NICE’s interim director of medical technology and digital evaluation, Mark Chapman, said: “We believe these technologies have the potential to offer value for money for the taxpayer, while offering people with low back pain quicker access to get the care they need at a time and place of their choosing.”

A consultation on the recommendations is now open until 25 October 2023 – expected final publication is 5 December 2023.

If you want to learn more about how technologies can be deployed across the health sector, sign up to National Health Executive's digital health virtual event.

Image credit: iStock

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