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CRT survey seeks common ground 

CRT survey seeks common ground 

Mark SchmelerPITTSBURGH – A major goal of a survey asking for feedback on what should be included in a hypothetical new coverage policy for complex rehab technology is to “see how much people agree,” says the University of Pittsburgh’s Mark Schmeler. 

UPitt, in collaboration with other investigators, launched the survey earlier this year, asking for feedback from a variety of stakeholders, including wheelchair users, caregivers, clinicians, providers, manufacturers, technicians, policy makers and funding sources, with plans to keep it open through May. 

“With any new policy, there’s going to be different people wanting different things,” said Schmeler, PhD, OTR/L, ATP, associate professor and vice chairman for clinical services and policy for the Department of Rehabilitation Science & Technology at UPitt and director of the Center for Assistive Technology at UPMC. “If everyone responds positively across all of the attributes of a policy, that’s great, but I’ve already looked at some of the responses and there is some variation between stakeholder groups.” 

The survey asks for feedback on 10 attributes that should be included in a new policy, such as timeliness, repairs/maintenance, communication, accountability and wheelchair durability. 

It’s a follow up to a previous survey asking stakeholders for their satisfaction levels with different aspects of CRT delivery – the results of which showed “we’re failing miserably,” Schmeler says, especially when it comes to repair/maintenance – and both surveys are part of a five-year project in its final year. 

“We looked at that data (from the first survey) and thought, how can we rectify these issues,” he said. “We developed 10 attributes that we thought, if we could incorporate these into a new policy, everyone would be better off.” 

The results of the survey, as well as other data, could serve as the foundation for a new policy to address current CRT issues, Schmeler says – everything from the lack of repair/maintenance plans to the lack of comprehensive therapist and supplier reimbursement to the lack of streamlined diagnosis and documentation requirements. 

“All these nuggets of information we’re collecting – we’re trying to be as systematic as possible,” he said. “We would like it to culminate into a separate benefit category, but maybe we call it something different, that manages how therapists do things, and how the manufacturers and suppliers support things, and that creates a consistent policy across payers.” 

A number of things would need to happen before a new policy is developed – never mind adopted by CMS and other payers – starting with compromises between stakeholders, Schmeler says. 

“It’s a difficult process,” he said. “We have to work together, because the policy needs to support what we’re doing.” 


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