New ATP: Providers still on the fence

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

TRINIDAD, Colo.--A recent NRRTS survey revealed few surprises: Providers have mixed feelings when it comes to RESNA’s plan to consolidate its ATS and ATP certifications.

Nearly an even split of the 236 respondents to the online survey supported the consolidation (48%) as opposed it (52%). Sixty-nine percent of respondents said the new certification is likely to cause more confusion among consumers, payers and referral sources, but they said that could be alleviated with more education.

“A lot of people just don’t think we’ve done the best job marketing the credential as it is,” said Michele Gunn, a NRRTS board member. “A lot of questions get fielded in the NRRTS office. Since NRRTS is more out there and a little more recognized [than RESNA], everybody thinks we run everything.”

RESNA officials say the ATS and ATP certifications are similar and do not merit two separate programs. Currently the ATS certification describes an individual, usually a provider, who sells and services equipment, and the ATP certification describes an individual, usually a PT or OT, who evaluates consumers and suggests appropriate equipment.

RESNA outlined its new certification, Assisted Technology Professional (ATP), on Aug. 21.

NRRTS considers the creation of a new certification for basic knowledge in assistive technology to be a stepping stone for an advanced certification in wheeled seating and mobility, a concept that providers seem to support.

Sixty-eight percent of respondents said they “would participate in an advanced certification specific to seating and wheeled mobility designed for suppliers,” while 12 % said they would not and 20% were not sure. On average, respondents agreed $265 would be a reasonable fee for acquiring an advanced certification.

“We didn’t think people would be willing to pay that amount of money for an add-on certification, but they seem to be wanting to do that,” said Simon Margolis, executive director of NRRTS.

Margolis said NRRTS plans to work with RESNA to ensure the specialty exam is appropriate for providers. The association plans to meet with RESNA officials this fall and establish an ad hoc committee to look more closely at the roles of providers and therapists.