Exciting Vision for Practitioners in the Future
The 2005 Education Summit Report gives an exciting, optimistic vision in its look at the future "Five to Ten Years Out."
For instance, here is the report's view of the practitioner in the near future:
"The past decade has witnessed a significant shift in the patterns and cadences of professional practice for most O&P practitioners. The introduction of masters-level training has progressively raised the capacity of practitioners to engage in evidence-based practice. Leading-edge practitioners are regularly using outcomes-based research in their daily practices. This has become a valuable differentiator from practitioners who have been slow to elevate their practices. As a result, the standards for care have risen, and many Internet-educated patients are demanding that their orthotists and prosthetists demonstrate the research/evidence basis that supports a specific program of care.
"It took several years for the growing number of faculty and trained researchers in O&P to have an impact, but the past few years [have] witnessed a steady rise in the amount of research available to support standards of practice. As a result, today's practitioner has developed much closer working relations with the rehab team, and is routinely included in consultation before or at the start of care.
"Many practitioners are focusing on new processes and techniques, frequently using advanced technology. Leading-edge orthotists and prosthetists are participating in surgery and the rehab team and are involved in osseointegration and regeneration. They also are using robotics and bionics, virtual gait analysis and related training and evaluation. Orthotists and prosthetists also are involved in improving the 'able' body through the use of performance-enhancing O&P devices.
"The use of technology has also transformed office and practice management for many O&P practitioners. The paperless office and use of electronic medical records is widespread, reflecting the need for healthcare providers to demonstrate commitment to cost control and patient safety as well as evidence-based care.
"The year 2015 also finds the orthotist and prosthetist facing changes in patient issues brought on by greater patient awareness and expectations, decrease in the incidence of previously common problems such as spina bifida, new treatments for diabetes, and greater interest in performance-enhancing O&P devices of all kinds. Most orthotists and prosthetists have become experts in prevention of patient deterioration, developing competencies in supporting patient wellness. Compared with the practitioner of 2005, the O&P professional of 2015 is both higher tech and higher touch in dealing with the full range of patient needs. Efforts to have this recognized in reimbursement negotiations have experienced significant success, in spite of the efforts of competing professional groups and ongoing cost-containment pressures."