AI-run physiotherapy clinic to start this summer
Back getting cracked.

The first NHS AI-run physiotherapy clinic will be rolled out this year in an effort to reduce waiting times.

Flok Health, the new platform, will provide same-day automated video appointments with a digital physiotherapist via an app that responds to information provided by a patient in real time.

Patients seeking physiotherapy for issues such as back pain can be referred to the platform through a community or primary care healthcare setting, such as their GP, as well as self-referring directly into the service.

The service aims to provide faster care and reduce waiting times and pressure on clinicians, those behind it say.

According to the NHS website, more than 30 million working days are lost to MSK conditions every year in the UK, and they account for up to 30 per cent of GP consultations in England.

However, some in the industry say that AI cannot yet replicate the skill of a fully trained physiotherapist, and that treatment needs to be nuanced due to the complexity of cases.

As part of a series of three-month pilot studies between May and December 2023, more than 1,000 NHS staff suffering from back pain self-referred to an AI physiotherapist for treatment.

All of those surveyed patients from the NHS pilot said their experience with Flok had been at least equivalent to seeing a human physiotherapist, and over half of patients said they thought the AI experience was better.

The AI clinic is scheduled to launch with its first NHS partners this summer.