UPitt covers all bases
Mark Schmeler, an ATP and a faculty member at the University of Pittsburgh, and Rich Schein, a graduate research assistant, address a few concerns that providers may have about telerehab:
Can videoconferenced evaluations really replace in-person evaluations?
During videoconferences, the treating therapist and provider are there with the patient at the hospital, Schmeler said. "The treating therapists are in charge of what's going on," he said. "They're licensed; they know what they're doing. But they may not have expertise in seating and mobility. We're there, as ATPs who do have that expertise, to guide them through the process."
What about security? Wouldn't it violate HIPAA laws if someone hacked into the conference?
The center, as well as the hospitals they work with, use a secure broadband Internet connection, said Rich Schein, a graduate research assistant who's writing his dissertation on the study. "We use a Microsoft-based product called ConferenceXP," he said. "It allows us to build our own servers and if we don't give you the IP address to a server, you can't communicate with us."
Since the number of ATPs is likely to increase in the next few years, isn't the need for telerehab temporary?
Because ATPs tend to stay close to metropolitan areas, patients and providers in rural areas will probably continue having problems finding ATPs to perform wheelchair evaluations, Schmeler said. Additionally, he sees part of the study's mission as "spreading knowledge." "By the time we're done, some of the therapists who participated in the study will have earned their ATP certification," he said. "They'll be part of the network."