Editor's Note

Our New World

once upon a time


Every conversation feels as if it ought to start with “So much has changed.” In our April-May issue, we were going into the teeth of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we were all just trying to navigate and survive.

Now, a couple of very significant months later, the world — and of course, the Complex Rehab Technology (CRT) industry — is starting to re-emerge.

In particular, CRT is wondering about long-term effects of the pandemic and what will happen to stopgap measures the industry adopted. Judging from the update Webinars cohosted by NCART, NRRTS, the Clinician Task Force, and The VGM Group, industry conversations with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) regarding temporary policy changes were fruitful and helped to preserve consumer access to CRT.

The question now is what policy changes, if any, will be maintained.

Telehealth and remote services, for example, have protected consumers and seating and wheeled mobility professionals alike, and CMS allowing clinicians to bill for telehealth services has been game-changing.

But how helpful could telehealth options be going forward, given how many CRT consumers — all or practically all of them — are at higher risk for complications should they get sick?

When I was talking to Amylior’s new VP of U.S. Sales Brad Peterson (see our Tilt interview, page 6), he mentioned that telehealth could also reach consumers who don’t have easy access to a seating and mobility team. Consumers routinely e-mail or call me — Me! A reporter! — to ask which wheelchair or cushion they should buy. I always refer them to a seating specialist, but as Brad pointed out, face-to-face access to a seating/mobility team is well beyond a lot of consumers, such as ones in rural areas. Opening up telehealth visits for this population, who will always find traveling to be difficult, could help more consumers to get the clinical support they need, which should lead to better outcomes for all, including payors.

Judy Rowley, Anna Sokol, and Sofiya Kagan of Motion Concepts then talked to me about infection control and its role in keeping people safe during the pandemic and beyond. Infection control has always been a critical CRT topic, whether it’s related to reducing infection risk on a wheelchair user’s personal cushion, or reducing infection risk with wheelchairs and seating used by multiple consumers, such as in a clinic or care facility. Now, everyone from clinicians and suppliers to manufacturers and repair technicians have new, enhanced infection control policies; how many of those will be retained going forward?

With its everyday emphasis on innovation and meeting people with disabilities where they are, CRT is perhaps better equipped than most industries to create a better “new normal.” If any industry is able to embrace change and write a new and better chapter, it’s this one.

This article originally appeared in the Jun/Jul 2020 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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