ABC, BCP Union is Smart Partnership for Patients, Professionals, and Payers

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By Séamus Kennedy, BEng (Mech), CPed

The recent announcement that the Board for Certification in Pedorthics (BCP) and the American Board for Certification in Orthotics and Prosthetics (ABC) have begun deliberations to create a combined organization came as a welcome surprise.

The primary considerations for the proposed merger are outlined on the pedorthic website at . Initially ABC contacted BCP to see if there was any interest in joining the two bodies. Both boards met separately and approved a meeting of their respective Executive Committees, which then met in Chicago on May 12-13. Subsequent to that meeting both boards decided to continue toward BCP and ABC becoming one. In a news release, the BCP stated that "pedorthic patients will benefit from the combined organization's programs of credentialing, facility accreditation, and approval of continuing education."

The issue of credentialing and accreditation regulation is very important for the future of the entire industry. Medicare's 2003 Modernization Act specifies new provider requirements for all suppliers of orthotics, prosthetics, and pedorthics. Gaining compliance with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will be a challenge for all providers. Accrediting organizations must meet stringent criteria to obtain CMS "Deemed Status." ABC has worked closely with CMS in developing accreditation standards and now is ready to apply for Deemed Status this summer. With the proposed integration of BCP into ABC all accredited pedorthic facilities will join the ranks of ABC's comprehensive O&P and mastectomy accredited facilities.

Complementary Strength

As a certified pedorthist, I see many benefits for joining these two organizations. ABC was founded in 1948 and has more than 10,000 credentialed professionals and 1,350 accredited facilities. BCP was founded in 1973 and represents more than 2,000 certified pedorthists and accredited facilities. Combining both groups makes for a stronger body to represent our profession when dealing with governmental agencies, regulatory and legislative changes, and insurance industry issues. Our patients benefit when we provide a unified voice.

From the scope of the giant medical and healthcare fields our specialties can be easily overlooked. This partnership will yield strength in numbers and a better opportunity to be heard when we advocate for the programs that will provide our patients with the most appropriate and comprehensive treatments.

I believe that pedorthics, orthotics, and prosthetics are natural extensions of one another. Although pedorthics can be considered as a sub-specialty below the ankle, pedorthists work very closely with both orthotists and prosthetists to ensure that their respective modalities function optimally. Providing proper fitting and stable shoes, foot orthotics, or even custom shoes, sets the right platform for patient biomechanics. Likewise, orthotists and pedorthists dedicate themselves to protecting "at-risk" feet, and so together try to contain the downward spiral that many patients, especially persons with diabetes, often face. Many facilities and clinics already recognize this natural alliance and employ CPeds, COs, and CPs to work side by side to provide enhanced and seamless service to their patients.

Other attempts within the industry to join forces have not always fared well. Talks between ABC and BOC to consider a possible amalgamation ceased last year. Discussions between O&P and physical therapists regarding Washington regulations also ended poorly. It is my hope that this current initiative between BCP and ABC will be a success, demonstrating a model of cooperation and unity that benefits everybody: the patient, the practitioner, and the payer.

Séamus Kennedy, BEng (Mech), CPed, is president and co-owner of Hersco Orthopedic Labs, New York City, New York. He can be contacted via e-mail: , or visit