Pilot proves it's possible to collect CRT outcomes data

Thursday, November 3, 2011

PITTSBURGH - They knew you could do it.

A NRRTS and University of Pittsburgh pilot project has proved that complex rehab providers can collect and report data, Simon Margolis, executive director of NRRTS, announced in October. 

"We wanted to see if they could all use the same tool to collect data in a consistent and meaningful way," Margolis said. 

Providers asked patients 10 satisfaction questions as part of the Functional Mobility Assessment (FMA). Patients either agreed or disagreed with statements about comfort, health, ease of tasks, mobility indoors and outdoors, and use of public and private transportation, among others.

Providers then faxed the results to NRRTS, where the collected data was entered into a UPitt database. 

Data was collected from patients twice; once before new complex rehab technology was provided and then again after the patient had his or her new equipment.

So far, 97 initial surveys and about half that many follow-up surveys have come in over the past few months. The pilot will continue for two more months in the hopes that more follow-up data will be collected. 

Mark Schmeler, a professor at UPitt's School of Health and Rehabilitation, said he saw "a very significant difference" in patient satisfaction between the first and second times patients took the surveys.

"We all said it was true, that people do have better function with a properly fitted wheelchair--but now we're proving it," Schmeler said. 

That proof could go a long way toward making sure policymakers understand the effectiveness of complex rehab. 

A larger sample size and data collected over time could prove the worth of items like seat elevators, which Medicare currently doesn't cover because there's no statistical evidence they work. 

Margolis and Schmeler would like to see the data collection continue after the pilot project winds down. The issue now is how to make that happen. 

"We'll look around to see what kind of money is out there," said Margolis. "I expect that will go well, since both parties were extremely positive about the results."