In the September 15 issue of O&P Business News, we spoke to leaders of the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics about what accreditation could offer O&P businesses. Around the same time, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced accreditation exemptions that reached across health care communities, including O&P. We asked you for your questions and followed up with ABC about the projected 2009 outlook on accreditation, which saw recent changes.
CMS clearly states that orthotic and prosthetic practices are exempt from accreditation at this time. However, just before press time, CMS indicated to ABC that pedorthists will not be exempted, contrasting verbal clarification given previously by CMS officials on conference calls and other non-binding forums, according to Tom Derrick, director of public relations and marketing for ABC.
“CMS has indicated in writing to ABC that pedorthists are not exempt. With this ruling, pedorthists are now required to conform to the Jan. 31, 2009 application deadline for accreditation. ” Derrick said explaining CMS’ standing on the exemption of pedorthic practices. “We’re disappointed with the way this has been handled and are concerned that the mixed messages have caused confusion in the pedorthic community. To confirm, pedorthists now must meet the accreditation application that is just a few weeks away. We will communicate this message directly to all certified pedorthists aggressively in the coming weeks and provide a series of online seminars to help the pedorthic community understand the accreditation requirements and the best way to bring your practice into compliance.”
The accreditation application deadline of January 31 also applies to post-mastectomy fitters and DME/HME businesses.
“For the rest of the O&P community, our viewpoint is that the accreditation exemption is truly just a delay. Orthotists and prosthetists are recommended to proceed forward with [accreditation] in 2009,” Derrick told O&P Business News.
According to Derrick many orthotic and prosthetics business owners are continuing onward through the accreditation process despite the current state of limbo for the industry.
“A lot of them have found that their insurance companies are asking for it anyway and they also know that it is coming,” he said.
He added that they expect CMS to release new accreditation-related set of guidelines or rules in 2009.
“We don’t know when, but CMS will be issuing new guidelines or rules governing the accreditation requirements for orthotists and prosthetists,” he said.
ABC is currently fielding questions across the board but Derrick said that a high percentage is from the post-mastectomy industry, who until the most recent decision, were the only industry within the O&P community bound by the original deadline.
“The calls we are getting from [orthotists and prosthetists] now really tend to deal with: “Do I have to go through this?” Again our policy here is that orthotists and prosthetists are exempt but need to do this anyway.”
Additionally, he said other questions are coming in regarding new Medicare requirements stating that practitioners need to devise a method of tracking and quantifying outcomes. They system, according to Derrick, is to measure “whether they are having proper patient care and if they can defend that in any kind of a matter. People have to have a written plan on how they are going to document improvements in their patient care.”
Derrick recommends that practitioners create a detailed satisfaction survey system that they can track, collate and quantify to find out if their patients are happy when they walk out the door.
The new system looks to ask practices to prove that their patients are satisfied instead of relying on a lack of complaints which assumes patients are happy.
Jennifer Hoydicz is the managing editor of O&P Business News.