CRT Industry Mobilizes During COVID-19 Pandemic
- By Laurie Watanabe
- Mar 25, 2020
As the COVID-19 pandemic challenges the world’s healthcare resources, the complex rehab technology (CRT) industry is working to adapt to this new world.
That’s the message of an update sent by NCART’s Executive Director Don Clayback last week.
Clayback indicated that NCART is collaborating with a number of other CRT and home medical equipment (HME) organizations, including NRRTS, the American Association for Homecare, The VGM Group and U.S. Rehab, the Clinician Task Force, and state organizations.
Their goal: To secure “the best outcomes for people that rely on CRT and HME.”
Recent actions include a letter to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) requesting temporary changes to CMS policies, including the expanded use of videoconferencing to substitute for in-person collaborations. New COVID-19 restrictions on who’s allowed to enter medical facilities and clinics are making it difficult for CRT provider personnel to participate in seating and wheeled mobility evaluations and to perform repairs and service calls.
A COVID-19 work group has been created to identify issues, develop action plans, and execute solutions in this fast-changing situation. The work group comprises CRT providers, manufacturers and clinicians.
Clayback said the American Occupational Therapy Association and the American Physical Therapy Association are also working with CMS to determine what activities the organizations can conduct remotely.
And the organizations are additionally reaching out to state Medicaid directors with letters on concerns involving CRT access during the pandemic.
The CRT organizations believe that supporting the consumers who need access to CRT should qualify as “essential services” at a time when businesses deemed non-essential are seeing their operations scaled back or closed down.
“The Department of Homeland Security issued federal guidance for states to aid in determinations of ‘essential services’ permitted to continue under COVID-19 restrictions,” Clayback said in his bulletin. “We believe that portions of that guidance related to medical equipment and supplies support the position that the manufacturing, delivering, and repairing of CRT should be classified as ‘essential.’ Each state makes their own decision, and manufacturers and providers should be able to use this guidance to remain in operation.”
Clayback also emphasized the volume of requests being made to policy makers amidst the rapidly changing coronavirus environment.
“Finding solutions quickly is the top priority,” he said. “Unfortunately, policy makers and health-related programs are experiencing an unprecedented number of requests during this time. We expect the outreach that is being done will provide the guidance and relief necessary to meet the CRT needs of individuals with disabilities.”
Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.