ISS focuses on accountability

Sunday, December 31, 2006

The 23rd International Seating Symposium may be a high-level, high-minded gathering of physicians, therapists and clinicians, but there's plenty of room at the table for rank-and-file rehab providers, say event organizers. In fact, this year's symposium includes a track focusing on the needs of rehabilitation technology suppliers, as well a sessions on nuts-and-bolts topics like power wheelchair electronics, outcome assessments, Medicare policy, and funding and service. The more adventurous can attend sessions with exotic titles like "Tools for Development of Psychosocial and Existential Aspects of Assistive Technology." HME News recently talked about the symposium with Mark Schmeler of the University of Pittsburgh's Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology, a symposium sponsor.
HME News: From scanning the symposium's Web site,, you seem to be reaching out to rehab providers. Is this the case?
Mark Schmeler: We'd like to. People who have attended ISS over the years are people who have typically followed a good standard of practice. And CMS has even told us: "We're not concerned about you guys. Our polices kind of reflect what you have been doing all along." This conference is an opportunity for people in the HME industry who provide mobility devices to get a better idea of the practice guides and the science behind this.
HME: This year's theme is "Moving into the Age of Accountability." What do you mean by that?
Schmeler: I came up with that primarily because of everything that has happened in the industry over the last three years. There are new policies, and CMS is pretty explicit about what they are looking for. We've got to figure out what we are going to do to be compliant with the new policies and then start demonstrating why we are effective and why payers should pay for rehab equipment.
HME: Is there a place at the symposium for providers of consumer mobility products?
Schmeler: Yes there is because you have to apply the same standards of practice. I see a lot of patients in consumer power who should never have been put there. It would be great to have people who do consumer power come here and listen to what is going on. We even have a session where a physician lectures on the basics of different diseases: This is cerebral policy; this is how it happens; here are things you need to consider when recommending a seating and mobility device. That's the kind of stuff we've tried to include for people who don't have formal medical or clinical training. They may continue to provide consumer power, but any standard of practice tells you that when you see something you're not familiar with, you refer it to someone who is and someone who can provide the right intervention.