AOPA’s Sunriver Initiatives Move Forward

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By Miki Fairley

The four initiatives to emerge from the American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association's (AOPA's) Sunriver Initiatives are on track and moving ahead.

This is the good news from AOPA President Walter Racette, CPO, in an interview with The O&P EDGE.

The resignation of Tyler Wilson as AOPA executive director has not cast a cloud over Sunriver.

An industry-wide conference of a cross-section of recognized leaders in the orthotics and prosthetics profession is planned for November 15-17 at the Hilton Chicago O'Hare Airport, Chicago, Illinois. The city and hotel, which is the only one on the grounds of O'Hare International Airport and easily accessible to all terminals, were chosen for the travel convenience of the 70-80 persons invited, Racette said.

At press time, a facilitator was being hired and questionnaires were to be sent out to participants and others to identify and focus on the main concerns and issues to be addressed.

Racette noted that the Sunriver Initiatives comprise five-to-ten year goals, rather than short-term immediate objectives, and "we are pushing these along and moving ahead."

The Sunriver initiatives center around:

  1. Evidence-Based Care;
  2. Business Optimization Processes and Tools;
  3. Developing a Shared Vision; and
  4. Differentiation in a Crowded Marketplace.

High on the agenda is developing research studies for evidence-based practice "to aid in making best clinical decisions and to justify those decisions to payers," Racette explained. "We are working closely with the Academy [American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists], to lend our resources, to move this ahead. [Outcomes data, evidence-based practice] is truly a profession-wide issue, not just one organization's, due to the enormity of the task. Every time I look at it, it gets bigger, but we're moving forward on it, and I'm encouraged by this," Racette added as he stressed the urgency and importance of this initiative to the industry.

Regarding business optimization processes and tools, "We are very close to delivering what we've talked about," Racette said. Among these tools is an interactive computer program, in which users can insert business data from their companies and see where they are relative to industry-wide averages as shown by AOPA's business surveys. The project group involved in this initiative is developing business practice management information and tools to help companies improve their operations and adapt to changing payer practices. Beta testing is planned for AOPA's National Assembly September 27-30 in Hollywood, Florida.

Developing a Shared Vision

The industry is pulling together to share a common vision, Racette said, noting that this has already come to fruition with the formation of the four-organization Orthotic & Prosthetic Alliance, which enables the profession to speak with one unified voice to Congress and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). The organizations include AOPA, the Academy, the National Association for the Advancement of Orthotics and Prosthetics (NAAOP), and the American Board for Certification in Orthotics and Prosthetics (ABC). The Alliance is already enjoying success, Racette observed.

"CMS came to us, asking for our voice," Racette said. "That's a big step forward. There will be bigger and better things from the Alliance as we move forward."

A fourth initiative, differentiating the O&P profession in the marketplace, is awaiting more development of the new CMS quality standards, "so we can be sure that the issues regarding accreditation and licensure, etc., that we are pressing are in line with the quality standards," Racette said.

Summing up, Racette noted that AOPA and the O&P field as a whole, "have become proactive. We're moving ahead."