The MSK-Tracker study

This study is aimed to test a new digital health platform to improve the quality of consultations for people with musculoskeletal (MSK) symptoms.

Together with Keele and Oxford Universities, doctors and physiotherapists at the Staffordshire Musculoskeletal Interface Service are doing a research study to test a new digital health platform called the MSK-Tracker to improve the quality of consultations for people with joint, back, neck, bone and muscle symptoms. 

The MSK-Tracker uses an online questionnaire to help patients to: 

  • track the extent to which aspects of their health are affected by their MSK condition; 
  • prepare appropriately for their clinical encounters, and; 
  • take the right steps to making positive changes to improve their quality of life and manage their condition over the longer-term
Chief Investigator:

Dr Jonathan Hill Email:

Principal Investigator:

Dr Jonathan Hill

Trial Manager:

Steff Garvin

Study Co-ordinator:  
Funder name / reference number: Arthritis Research UK: Ref 21405
UKCRN Study portfolio: CPMS ref: 37677
Year 2017-2019

Study design

This study is using a before and after design in a single clinical service, to test the MSK-Tracker.

  • Phase 1 (June-July 2018) involves an online questionnaire without the new innovations.
  • Phase 2 (Aug-Sept 2018) involves a few cycles of testing and improving the new online MSK-Tracker.
  • Phase 3 (Oct-Dec 2018) will test the MSK-Tracker to see if it helps empower patients and has an impact on the quality of care given.

In addition to the online questionnaire, patients will be given the option to take part in individual interviews, which will present their experiences on using the online system.

Recruitment for the study will be starting in June 2018 and will close approximately December 2018.

Study objectives

  • Test the ability of the MSK-Tracker to act as an empowerment tool and method of facilitating a person-centered care planning approach in routine MSK clinic consultations.
  • Assess the value of the MSK-Tracker in generating aggregated outputs that inform MSK service improvement.

MSK-Tracker Resources

Here is a link to a list of trustworthy MSK self-management resources:

Jonathan Hill is leading a further research project in 10 different European languages/countries called Back-UP to develop a web app that helps clinicians select and send online resources to patients within an individualised care plan. 
If you are a clinician that is interested in testing this new app with your patients - please email Jonathan at

Keele's recommended MSK-HQ standardised dataset and data dictionary (Consultation Phase)

Feedback on the data dictionary content is welcomed. Email Roanna Burgess at

MSK Community Services Standardised Dataset: Consensus Project

Project Overview
The purpose of this project is to develop consensus on a minimum standardised dataset (Core Outcome Set (COS)) for use in musculoskeletal (MSK) community and primary care services. This agreed minimum dataset would include patient characteristics for descriptive analysis of MSK data, variables explaining complexity of the patient population in order to make fair comparisons, patient reported outcome measures (PROMs) to measure effectiveness of treatment, patient reported experience measures (PREMs) to measure patient experience, and any other agreed useful tools. The purpose of widespread data collection is for service evaluation, audit, and benchmarking services, identifying best practice and underperforming services, alongside providing the ability for structured and tailored quality improvement. The standardised dataset however needs to be kept to a minimum to ensure feasibility of collection across MSK services nationally and therefore needs to undergo a national consensus approach to reach agreement on which metrics are essential to collect, which are beneficial but not seen to be essential, and which are not useful for widespread collection. This agreed standardised dataset could then be used to develop a national MSK audit focused to community and primary care services which is currently lacking, to help transform services for the future.

Primary Objective
The primary aim is to reach consensus on the minimum dataset (core outcome set) that should be collected across MSK services in order to enable effective service evaluation and benchmarking (allowing for case-mix adjustment to ensure fair comparisons can be made, and including optimum PROMs/metrics to measure effectiveness and allow for quality improvement initiatives/evaluation within community and primary care settings). This dataset needs to be considered feasible and appropriate for collection by clinicians in clinical systems, and feasible and appropriate to patients who will provide the majority of data in the form of questionnaires to be collected and collated by individual MSK services.

Secondary Objective
The secondary objective is to aid development of methodology for a national audit of community and primary care MSK services.