A NEW outpatient clinic at Gympie, Caloundra and Nambour hospitals is helping reduce orthopaedic surgery wait times.
Through the Musculoskeletal Pathway Clinic, a first for Queensland, patients are assessed and receive the right treatment sooner.
Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service figures show only about 18 per cent of patients referred to hospital for orthopaedic surgery actually require surgery.
Many patients can manage their conditions with the help of physiotherapy-led assessments.
Assistant director of allied health Gemma Craig said in the clinic, patients suffering musculoskeletal pain were seen by a physiotherapist and streamlined into operative or non-operative pathways of care.
Ms Craig said patients were prioritised based on the severity of their conditions, as opposed to being automatically placed on an orthopaedic surgeon's waiting list.
"The clinic streamlines patients into where they need to be seen, which means they are being seen at the right place, at the right time and by the right person.
"Prior to this clinic, many patients were waiting to see a surgeon, only to find out surgery wasn't necessary," she said.
"Musculoskeletal conditions are significant contributors to illness and disability and are second only to cancer as the leading cause of disease burden in Australia.
"Musculoskeletal pain, including osteoarthritis has been identified as one of the National Health Priority areas."
Ms Craig said over the past 12 months, 2901 patients on Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service orthopaedic waitlists had been triaged with 54 per cent (1570) being referred to the advanced physiotherapy clinicians across the health service for care.
"Our team's approach to reducing orthopaedic waiting lists and physiotherapy led care during a patient's assessment phase has been submitted to the Australian Council of Healthcare Standards Awards for 2015.
"This model has already reduced the number of patients on the orthopaedic waiting lists enabling them to access timely non-operative management.
"Other health services such as Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service have also shown interest in implementing the model," Ms Craig said.