Brandt: Make the human connection

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Monday, August 28, 2017

Harry “J.R.” Brandt has been volunteering with the Board of Certification/Accreditation (BOC) for 28 years, nearly as long as he’s been in the orthotics and prosthetics field.

That spirit of helping others was recently recognized by the BOC, which honored Brandt with the inaugural Jim Newberry Award for Extraordinary Service. The award was created by the BOC last year to honor a beloved board member and long-time orthotics and prosthetics practitioner.

“I’ve spent a lot of my life dedicated to BOC, and most of it was volunteer,” said Brandt, a former member and chairman of BOC’s board of directors. “I’m humbled over it, especially having known Jim and his philosophy and work.”

He talks with HME News about the role of O&P and the importance of accreditation:

HME News: How has O&P changed over the years?

Harry Brandt: It used to be everyone made their own stuff, made it in their lab in the back. It evolved out of a trade rather than a clinical profession. It has evolved into less of an art and more relying on more pre-manufactured devices. Not that not those aren’t thought out, but there’s still a lot of people who don’t fit into those types of pigeon holes.

HME: Why does certification and accreditation matter?

Brandt: It makes the industry better, makes it run more efficiently. BOC is one of the deemed Medicare accreditation folks for DME and O&P. Seeing those different companies that our surveyors go out to, they are looking at those standards that an organization may be deficient in, but they’re also making them aware of what a great job they’re doing.

HME: What is most challenging about working in O&P?

Brandt: Being able to get reimbursed for the service that you provide. With a lot of insurers and Medicare, because we are in category with DME, we are looked at as product providers. We’re feeling downward pressure on reimbursement and you try to do more with less. But sometimes you have to be able to continue to spend that time with the patient and make that connection.

HME: How do you see your role helping patients?

Brandt: You really have to make that human connection. It almost makes your fitting better. You’ve gained the trust of that patient. What I try to share with someone I’m teaching is that if you can just do that, you can learn all that other stuff. You can learn how to fit. If you can’t figure out how to make a human connection with a patient, you’re never going to win.