Emerging Technologies Expected to Have Dramatic Impact on the O&P Practice

  Thomas Kirk
  Thomas Kirk

ORLANDO, Fla. — Implantable devices and their communication between the body and the prosthesis is just one of the many emerging technologies currently being experimented with in the O&P industry, according to a panel of industry leaders, here.

Thomas Kirk, PhD; Jeffrey Brandt, CPO; and Alicia Davis, MPA, CPO, FAAOP, led a discussion on emerging technologies and their impact on the large and small O&P practice at the 2010 American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association’s National Assembly.

“The objective is simple. It is two-fold,” Kirk said here. “First, it is all about patient care. If we advance our technology and improve functionality, we will take better care of our patients. At the same time, these emerging technologies will help us become more efficient.

  Jeffrey Brandt
  Jeffrey Brandt

Every area of our business is going to be impacted — from how we document our processes to the product itself.”

The panelists stressed that although these dynamic technologies are highly anticipated, the question that continually arises is how will the small business implement these new materials to their everyday practice? Will emerging technologies give the small business a competitive advantage or will they simply be left out in the cold? These are just a few of the many challenges that new technologies bring to the industry, they said.

  Alicia Davis
  Alicia Davis

“It is difficult if your practice only uses the computer for administrative purposes,” Brandt said. “These technology issues can lead to software application issues for the O&P practice. Does your practitioner know how to use a computer while also engaging the patient? You should practice using role play and this invo0lves practitioner preparation time.”

Kirk agreed that although companies are experimenting with functional electrical stimulation and powered devices, the O&P industry as a whole needs to become more technologically efficient.

“We cannot fear the computer,” Kirk said. “We must become digitally literate.”


We want to think about how emerging technology is going to impact the O&P practice large and small. How will we educate our employees and patients? Will it be harder to train patients? Will it be harder to purchase?

How we will employ social media? I know a practitioner in our office who actually had a referral through Facebook. One of our patients was really enthused and was writing posts and was friends with other amputees and they actually sought that practitioner out. That is just another barrier that we need to cross.

— Jason Wening, CP, MS
Scheck and Siress O&P Inc.

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