Leaders discuss challenges

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A panel of six complex rehab providers and manufacturers in April led a discussion on the challenges associated with balancing innovation with reimbursement and the importance of consumer-driven advocacy during the National CRT Conference in Arlington, Va. 

It all comes down to reimbursement, says Julie Jackson, director of Invacare’s rehab business unit. 

“We know what (customers) want and we want to be able to develop products to meet their needs,” she said. “The challenge we face as a manufacturer is, will someone pay for that product?”

National Seating & Mobility CEO Mike Ballard said he could see future funding going one of three ways: manufacturers could make products cheaper; incremental increases in 

technology could become standard over time as more customers are willing to pay for them; or complex rehab technology could take a step backward. 

“If we’re not organized properly, we could have reimbursement cuts,” he said. “And my biggest fear is the dumbing down of complex rehab.”

Scott Meuser, chairman and CEO of Pride Mobility, had a different approach to reimbursement. 

“We’ve done a lot of consumer research and we’ve come up with ideas on how to make a product better,” he said. “We’re going to build them.”

The idea is that if enough complex rehab wheelchair users see these advancements in technology but don’t have access to them, they’ll advocate on behalf of themselves.

All of the panelists agreed that consumers need to speak up.

“We have to find a way to get those consumers to join us, because they can tell a very, very powerful story,” said Pete Coburn, president of U.S. commercial operations at Sunrise Medical.