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Introduction to the FAST (Flexible Activity and Symptom Tracker) system for patients using automated telephone calls

Patient information A-Z

Who is this information for?

This information is for patients in the pain clinic who choose to use the automated telephone call system to record their pain on the FAST system.

What is the aim of this information?

This page provides information on the FAST system for pain recording that was introduced at your appointment.

What is the FAST system?

The FAST system is an electronic diary. It provides a quick, accurate and ongoing way to record your pain or related symptoms, for example, fatigue or mood, using automated telephone calls.

Why is the pain management service using the FAST system?

The pain clinic has doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and psychologists who work as a team. We offer a range of treatments in the pain management service. Accurate records of pain levels before and after various treatments will help us make long term plans for pain management with you.

How does the FAST-diary automated phone system work?

You will need a personal phone number to set up your FAST-diary recording system. We will do this with you at your appointment.

You will receive . . . . . . . . . . automated phone call(s) per day / week, reminding you to record your pain score.

The reminders start . . . . . . . . . week(s) before your treatment and up to . . . . . . . . . . . . week(s) after treatment is complete.

An example of the automated message is:

“Hello (name). Welcome to Fast Diary. Please enter a number between 0 and 10, where ‘0’ is ‘no pain’ and ‘10’ is ‘worst imaginable pain’ for your . . . . . . . . . . . . . pain and press # to finish.

Press * to repeat these instructions”

You can record your pain by selecting the number which best corresponds to your current pain level.

Your pain rating will be repeated back to you, and you will be asked to press 1 if this is correct and your pain rating will be recorded.

If your rating is incorrect, you will be prompted to press any other key and rate your pain again.

Will my FAST-diary be used to rate my pain for future treatments?

Yes. You may be asked to use the FAST-Diary to help assess or monitor the effects of other treatments offered in the pain clinic.

What if I miss the reminder?

You can use call the FAST–Freephone number 0800 6125619 to rate your pain at the next opportunity.

My pain changes through the day, how should I rate it?

Please just consider what you feel in the present moment.

You can always enter more than one rating a day if your pain changes through the day.

You are very welcome to rate your pain whenever you like. The more information you provide the better.

However, you need to provide at least . . . . . . . . rating(s) every day / week for your ratings to be useful to the pain team.

Who should I contact if I have any further questions about the FAST system?

If you have any questions about using the FAST system, please contact the FAST-diary support team via email or telephone on 01223 967369.

For the FAST system to work effectively it is important for us to have the telephone number for you. Please let the pain clinic know as soon as possible if your telephone number changes.


Marceau et al (2007) Electronic diaries as a tool to improve pain management: is there any evidence? Pain Med 8 Suppl 3:S101-9

Jamison et al (2001) Electronic diaries for monitoring chronic pain: 1-year validation study. Pain 91(3):277-85

Further information - British Pain Society

British Pain Society (opens in a new tab) - Information about management of pain, and recommendations for best clinical practice.

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Other formats

Help accessing this information in other formats is available. To find out more about the services we provide, please visit our patient information help page (see link below) or telephone 01223 256998.

Contact us

Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151