In conjunction with the O&P Alliance, the National Association for the Advancement of Orthotics and Prosthetics (NAAOP) released a statement about opposing direct-to-consumer distribution models for custom orthotic and prosthetic devices. The statement “seeks to address a troubling trend where some companies are marketing O&P care through a direct-to-consumer distribution model, in many instances, cutting out the trained prosthetist or orthotist, as well as the physician and therapist, from the care continuum.”
Five O&P organizations comprise the Alliance: NAAOP; the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists; the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics, and Pedorthics; the American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association; and the Board of Certification/Accreditation.
The alliance is “in strong opposition to any direct-to-consumer delivery model for the provision of custom prostheses or orthoses as it circumvents the necessary, direct working relationship between the patient and an appropriately credentialed O&P clinician as part of an overall plan of care. In some instances, direct-to-consumer models may reduce initial costs to consumers, but the short-term cost savings are far outweighed by significant additional safety risks and the long-term costs associated with these models.”
The statement says that the O&P Alliance:
- Supports the delivery model that preserves the meaningful person-to-person relationship between the patient and an appropriately credentialed O&P clinician to ensure that the custom orthosis or prosthesis is appropriate, safe, and effective.
- Rejects any direct-to-consumer delivery model for the provision of custom orthoses or prostheses that bypasses the critically important, direct relationship between the patient and an appropriately credentialed clinician.
- Supports the use of technology to enhance the ability of qualified healthcare providers to deliver high-quality, clinically appropriate care, but does not believe that technological advances should replace the clinical expertise of the orthotist and/or prosthetist.
- Recommends that third-party payers reject claims for orthotic and prosthetic care that do not meet current standards of clinical engagement in order to disincentivize the absence of safe and effective clinical care associated with direct-to-consumer models.
- Encourages the enforcement of state O&P licensure laws requiring a licensed O&P practitioner to provide orthotic and prosthetic care to individuals with limb loss and limb difference.
NAAOP says it believes that providing prostheses and custom-fabricated and custom-fitted orthoses requires care from a trained clinician following a prescription from a treating medical provider. The clinician should be a certified and/or licensed orthotist or prosthetist who provides care as part of an overall treatment plan.
To watch a webcast in which Peter Thomas, JD, NAAOP general counsel, discusses the statement or to read the statement, visit the NAAOP website.