Editor's Note




In magazine publishing, there are awards programs. They recognize excellence in writing and design, and it’s fun to read and admire the winners and finalists. There’s a lot of great work out there.

Personally, though, I can be sulky about participating in awards programs. I don’t need an award, I tell myself, to determine that my work is good or bad. That’s what readers are for. And I don’t have time for entry forms.

Yet, I love ratings systems. Yelp for restaurants, hotels and courthouses for jury duty. Goodreads for books; Rotten Tomatoes for movies. I know the warnings about inherent biases of many ratings systems — but that doesn’t stop me.

I don’t blindly follow Yelp’s stars. But I am looking for indications that other consumers have had good outcomes with what I’m about to invest in, whether it’s a new smartphone or a new plumbing company.

In complex rehab, the hours are long and the workloads are large. Finding time to collect more client data is a challenge in an environment already stuffed with paperwork.

Nevertheless, we now live in a world defined by ratings, quality assurance scores and outcomes measures. Businesses and industries are expected to prove that what they’re doing works. Healthcare is no exception. As we decide how to react to an illness or serious condition, we want to know what medications, surgeries and therapies are most likely to succeed. In reply, physicians tell us that for X condition, for patients our age with similar medical histories, they recommend treatment Y or therapy Z.

Now, rehab is facing those same demands. Do complex seating systems and custom-fitted wheelchairs work? Do they improve clients’ function? Help them move more safely and efficiently through mobility-related activities of daily living? Can the right combination of weight shifting and position changing prevent pressure injuries, thereby also preventing costly hospitalizations and months of immobility?

This month, we start looking at the Functional Mobility Assessment, and its outcomes so far, with U.S. Rehab’s Greg Packer and the University of Pittsburgh’s Mark Schmeler. In our conversation, Mark was careful to point out that this isn’t research. Not yet. These are quality-assurance metrics, feedback from consumers who were asked, repeatedly over time, about their seating and mobility systems.

The bottom line question: Does this industry’s work make a difference?

You already know it does. But what if your inner surety could be confirmed by “big data” or at least our version of it? What could that mean to the future of complex rehab funding and coverage policy? How might successful results drive product development and industry expansion?

Complex rehab’s future could be written in the stars… outcomes measures stars, that is. And that could be a good thing.

This article originally appeared in the June 2018 issue of Mobility Management.

About the Author

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

Mobility Management Podcast