ONCE UPON A TIME: PIXABAY/RAMDLON
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.