NRRTS, UPitt develop rehab-specific curriculum

Sunday, September 2, 2007

LITTLETON, Colo. - In a move that one source said was "long overdue," NRRTS announced last week that it has teamed up with the University of Pittsburgh to develop a curriculum specifically for individuals who provide complex rehab products and services.

NRRTS kicked off the program by releasing a five-page document outlining the roles and responsibilities of its registered rehabilitation technology suppliers (RRTS) and certified rehabilitation technology suppliers (CRTS). The document will serve as the foundation for developing the curriculum.

"This is an important move, because it gets us back on the track of longer-term thinking," said Simon Margolis, executive director of NRRTS. "Right now, the industry is wrapped up in funding issues, but my feeling is, 'We will continue to be here,' because someone has to evaluate and fit patients. We need to have a vision that's past the next 18 months, regardless of the circumstances."

NRRTS will provide educational and training content, as well as course instructors, for the program. UPitt will be the "delivery system," said Mark Schmeler, a faculty member who will help NRRTS coordinate the program.

Initially, the program will be a certificate program, but NRRTS and UPitt are shooting for an undergraduate degree program.

The program will go a long way toward continuing to professionalize the rehab industry, Margolis and Schmeler said.

"This is long overdue," Schmeler said. "The program is part of an offensive strategy to make sure we have qualified people doing this stuff. It also sends a strong message to Medicare: People who provide this equipment aren't your average Joes off the street."

Ever since CMS announced its ATS and ATP requirement last year, the rehab industry has grumbled about how those certifications are too general. They cover not only seating and mobility but also augmentative communications and other non-rehab related subjects.

It's still unclear how the program will interact with NRRTS's CRTS certification and RESNA's ATS certification, Margolis and Schmeler said. NRRTS may decide to require the curriculum of CRTSs, RRTSs who have passed RESNA's ATS exam.

Margolis, Schmeler and NRRTS's board of directors plan to meet at Medtrade this month to discuss a timeline for completing and implementing the program, Margolis said.

In the meantime, NRRTS has some money to raise, Margolis said.

"This is going to cost somewhere between a lot and a very lot," he said. "We're currently looking for funding outside the industry, such as with the Roberts Wood Johnson Foundation. We want to make sure it remains neutral and not a Group X or Group Y kind of thing."