Promoting MSK self-management across an ICS: Thinking outside the box

By: Natalia Szczepanek, Community Engagement Officer

June 11, 2024

BSoL community day

getUBetter’s digital self-management support for all common musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions is currently deployed across 17 Integrated Care Systems (ICSs), supporting an eligible population of over 25 million. To ensure individuals have the opportunity to manage their condition, a large part of our clinical transformation work involves finding creative ways for promoting digital self-management across an ICS and breaking down barriers to accessing and using the app.

We have become recognised for our commitment to collaborative design  as well as our ongoing work to reduce digital exclusion, providing a platform that meets the needs of patients, clinicians, ICSs, and health boards. To ensure as many people as possible have access to safe, local, and trusted advice and support, we repeatedly question what else we can do to promote self-management of MSK conditions.

However, encouraging self-management and improving uptake across an ICS is everyone’s responsibility. In this article we explore the approaches that ICS teams are using to promote  digital self-management across their regions.


Joined Up Care Derbyshire strategy to increase getUBetter adoption


getUBetter has been deployed across Joined Up Care Derbyshire to align their multiple historical and community providers across the MSK care pathway and reduce MSK-related GP appointments (annually accounting for 30% of all their GP appointments), releasing capacity in both Primary and Secondary care for the most appropriate patients and reducing variation in access and outcomes for patients.

The Joined Up Care Derbyshire Communications team run a communications campaign to promote digital self-management and drive adoption of getUBetter with a particular target on areas related to PCNs with lower uptake.


Key messages

Joined Up Care Derbyshire wanted to communicate that:

  1. getUBetter is an easy, safe, and effective way to support self-management of musculoskeletal injuries and conditions.
  2. The getUBetter app provides evidence-based advice for all common muscle, bone, and joint problems, including back, back and leg, neck, shoulder, hip, knee, ankle pain, and soft tissue injury.
  3. Benefits:
  • No need to wait for an appointment
  • Instant access to a personalisedprogramme with information, tips & exercises
  • Advice about how and when to seek help
  • Safe, quick, and easy​ to use



Joined Up Care Derbyshire used a mix of tactics to promote digital self-management across their ICS.

1. Bus advertising

A 4 week-long campaign ran in December 2023 with a particular focus on the 65+ target audience in Derby City consisting of 160 internal bus panels on Arriva Buses, covering Derby City and arterial routes with a predicted reach of thousands over the 4 week period.


2. Derbyshire live advertising

An advertising campaign ran between 2nd-29th February again focussed on the 65+ population in  Derby City, Erewash, South Hardwick, Chesterfield and Alfreton Ripley Crich & Heanor.  The campaign consisted of A  Derbyshire Live social media campaign and a Google App campaign.

The campaign was very successful with outcomes including:

  • Impressions: 650,573
  • Reach 175,822
  • Engagement: 240%
  • Engagements – comments, likes, shares, etc: 15,645
  • Clicks: 8,587 [with campaigns of this size usually averaging 1000]


3. Derbion Shopping Centre activities

MSK getUBetter advert escalator Derbyshire

The shopping centre campaign to promote digital self-management ran between January and March with tactics including:

  • Escalator panels on 4 escalators around the shopping centre [4 weeks]
  • Digital display boards – mid January to mid February

The weekly footfall for the Derbion Shopping Centre averages 500,000 and the panels are displayed prominently around the centre.


4. NHS Derby and Derbyshire ICB social media campaign

Between January 2nd and 9th, the ICB ran social media adverts targeting the defined geographical audience of men and women aged 45+.

The adds reached 50,954 people, resulting in 753 clicks to access registration..


5. Chesterfield Football Club partnership

An 8 weeklong campaign which began in March and is still ongoing includes:

  • 20 getUBetter posters displayed across the stadium (mix of a4 and a3 formats)
  • LED screen advertising on the pitch during games
  • Digital display ads on the club website


6. Google advertising

Advertising campaign targeting Derbyshire residents 65+  (4 weeks in, ongoing)

  • Impressions: 5.2 million
  • Clicks: 32,644


Campaign evaluation:

Tactics were first implemented in December 2023, though majority of advertising did not begin till January. The campaign is still ongoing, with many tactics continuing into May.

There’s a strong correlation between the campaign and the higher sign up rates observed across the Joined Up Care Derbyshire ICS.


Tactics across other regions

1. Community Engagement Days

Many of our customer ICSs, including South West London, North East London, and Birmingham and Solihull ICSs run regular community engagement days to promote digital self-management, bringing together conditions, self-management support and community services to help patients.

A getUBetter stand allows to enable people to immediately access local MSK support, clinical assessment, and self-management support available in their local area.

These events are also an excellent opportunity to gather constructive patient and user feedback, allowing us to gain better understanding of barriers to adoption.

BSoL community day
getUBetter MSK stand at the Birmingham Community Day


2. Batch messaging

To encourage adoption, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire ICS used Accurx batch texting to mass publicise getUBetter to the whole Healthwest PCN population. The PCN has 4 GP practices which between them provided 1696 access codes to their patients. In week one alone, 60% of their MSK patients who had received the text registered to use the app.

Batch texting is the simplest and most efficient way to communicate with patents about services available to them, including MSK care.


3. Radio announcements

To promote digital self-management support from getUBetter, Sussex MSK Partnership’s communication team produced a 40 second getUBetter advertisement which aired for the first time on their local radio on the day of the self-management support going live.

Radio announcements are a great way of promoting MSK digital self-management across a population. Radio is live and local. People listen to the radio to find out what is happening in their community, therefore allowing to communicate localised and targeted messaging to a large audience. Additionally, radio allows to reach target communities with frequency. The Sussex MSK 30 second radio announcement is set to air 30 times over the coming month, allowing them to increase awareness rapidly and in a cost-effective way.



These are just some of the examples of what can be done to promote digital self-management support across an ICS.

getUBetter works closely with our customers to support them in promoting digital self-management across their areas. The shared responsibility in doing so is crucial because every ICS is different and local health systems know their populations best. For example, techniques used to engage patients across South West London might not work as well in Frimley.