Editor's Note

Forewarned, Forearmed

CRT ForwarningThere is a famous adage about a frog and a pot of water: If you heat the water to boiling and throw the frog into it, the frog will recognize the danger and will leap from the pot. But if you put the frog into the pot while the water is at room temperature and then gradually heat the water to boiling, the frog won’t leap out. It won’t realize the danger creeping up on it, so it stays in the pot and does nothing to save itself.

While biologists disagree on whether this account is literally true, its metaphor is sobering: It can be difficult to notice danger when it creeps up on you.

That’s true in everyday life as well. This month, Rita Stanley, VP of government relations for Sunrise Medical, gives a real-life example using Medicare funding for complex rehab technology (CRT), and how policy changes have hurt CRT reimbursement over a period of years.

As Rita points out, the shifts aren’t always cataclysmic or headline making. In fact, they’ve often been the opposite: incremental changes in policy interpretations that lead to gradual but ongoing shifts in reimbursement. In the end, Rita’s work suggests something much more dangerous than even long-term payment reductions. It suggests that a slow leeching of funding can result in policy-makers’ failure to see and uphold the critical value in CRT. It suggests that when technology and related services are slowly devalued, not all at once but through dollars-and-cents erosion over the years, legislators and funding sources have a harder time continuing to perceive those things as critically important to beneficiaries.

Turn to page 18 to check out Rita’s article.

I think the frog-in-boiling-water metaphor makes a lot of sense, but I also believe that the opposite can be true. When you’re fighting every day on the front lines to get your clients into the best seating & mobility solutions that you also have to justify to payors, it can be tough to find time to see the bigger picture.

One example is a greater understanding of how factors such as vision can impact a successful seating & mobility system (page 26). Eyesight may not have been one of the top factors to consider during seating & mobility evaluations in the past, but deeper insight into how injuries or illness can impact vision can be one more tool for today’s clinicians and ATPs.

And since this is the issue that will be distributed in our booth at the International Seating Symposium (ISS) in Nashville, of course we have a huge new technology preview starting on page 30. There are products here that would surely have sounded like science fiction to previous iterations of assistive technology practitioners and their clients. But incremental advances in everything from consumer electronics to power wheelchair bases to bending and shaping metals have led to a new generation of technology that can help clients to accomplish tasks that would have been just a dream even a few years ago.

At the ISS, there will be educational sessions and poster presentations that teach, inspire and give us a chance to catch up on what we might have missed while working every day on the front lines. Surely, there will also be lessons on upcoming challenges to watch out for. Like that metaphorical frog, we humans are best able to act when we’re aware of what’s coming and know what to look for.

So have a blast learning and catching up with colleagues at the ISS. And come see Mobility Management in booth 805.

This article originally appeared in the March 2015 Mobility Management issue of Mobility Management.

About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at lwatanabe@1105media.com.

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