Saturday, November 30, 2002

ALEXANDRIA, Va. - AAHomecare's rehab council has selected the Rehabilitation, Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of America (RESNA) to develop standards for its rehab accreditation program.

The Re/habilitation and Assistive Technology Council (RATC) will pay RESNA $200,000 to develop the standards over the upcoming year. RESNA was one of three finalists vying for the contract, and RATC announced at Medtrade in Atlanta that RESNA had won. RATC believes a rehab accreditation program is needed because existing accreditation programs for HME don't address the clinical nature of rehab equipment. In developing standards, RESNA will look at the differences between rehab and HME as they relate to personnel; process of evaluation; facilities, client-specific services such as fitting, delivery and follow-up; repairs; and patient advocacy outcomes.

Industry sources applauded RATC for selecting the Arlington, Va.-based RESNA, because it's an organization that's well known in the rehab industry for its assistive technology supplier (ATS) and assistive technology practitioner (ATP) certifications. RESNA currently boasts more than 1,600 individual members and 150 organizational members. But the organization is not only recognized by the rehab industry; it's also recognized by payer sources.

"RESNA is a good choice," said Peggy Walker, director of member education for The VGM Group's U.S. Rehab. "They know the needs of patients. This is the best step the rehab industry has taken in a long time."

Walker does have one "but." She said RESNA must make developing the standards a team effort.

RESNA has every intention of doing that, according to Simon Margolis, president of RESNA and v.p. of clinical and professional development for the Nashville, Tenn.-based National Seating and Mobility (NSM). He said the organization will convene with a number of different focus groups, including consumers, providers, manufacturers, clinicians and payer sources.

"We're not going to do this in a vacuum," Margolis said. "We know there has to be a broad base of people involved or else people are going to think it's just a good old boy's network."

Mary-Lacey Reuther, executive director of RATC, agreed. She said the standards will be the first to be developed by all interested parties.

Industry sources say RESNA must also make the standards reasonable for smaller rehab companies. One provider suggested, for instance, that it create a standard below the ATS certification.

Once RESNA has completed the standards, RATC will put out a request for proposals for someone to administer the program. Margolis said he couldn't be 100% sure, but he thinks RESNA will vie to win that contract, too.

"We already have the infrastructure," he said. "Accreditation is not that different than what we already do, in terms of record keeping and other things." HME