Provider launches association
With a background in orthotics and prosthetics, Rhonda Turner was concerned that critical industry information wasn't geared specifically to mastectomy fitters. In April, she launched the American Association of Breast Care Professionals (AABCP) to bring together up-to-date news on accreditation, certification and legislative issues and to give a "single voice" to mastectomy fitters. The fledgling organization already boasts more than 700 members. HME News spoke to Turner recently about AABCP.
HME News: Why form an association just for breast care professionals? Rhonda Turner: Over the years, I have found that there's a huge number of mastectomy fitters and breast care professionals that don't have a single voice that represents them. When you look at the mastectomy boutiques, even the ones in hospitals, they run on more of a retail business model. Fitters haven't had to deal with (industry regulations). Before the quality standards were passed, certification and accreditation were voluntary. I am still running into people who don't think they have to be certified or that their facility has to be accredited. We needed a centralized organization that gave out accurate information that was specific to the post-mastectomy fitter industry.
HME: Along with AABCP, you've launched a comprehensive Web site, www.aabcp.org.
Turner: The Web site is intended to be a central unit of information, both governmental advocacy and general business information, as well as business how-to like marketing, Medicare and newsletters. We're starting to do podcasts from the site as well. We're trying to keep it simple and give these women the tools to stay in business.
HME: Who is the typical breast fitter and what are her concerns in today's industry?
Turner: They are in it for a reason. They either had breast cancer themselves or someone very close to them is a survivor or died of it. Many of these women started the boutiques they own because they were in a region that just didn't have any product. Many of these women are 50-plus, so going back to school now is very scary. A lot of women are thinking about getting out of the business because they don't understand what they are being asked to do.
HME: How will AABCP make itself heard on legislative issues?
Turner: We have already approached people on state levels and started to identify members of Congress who are sympathetic not just to breast cancer, but also, the entire DMEPOS industry. Whatever we take to Capitol Hill, we take as a single message. When (lawmakers) think of DMEPOS, they are not thinking that they are affecting bras and prostheses for breast care survivors. Cutting oxygen reimbursement is going to be cutting this as well.