In honor of our tenth anniversary, we are pleased to present Looking Back, Looking Ahead, a celebration of the past, the present, and the future—not only for The O&P EDGE, but also for a profession that is constantly evolving in response to an ever-changing healthcare landscape. We asked The O&P EDGE Editorial Advisory Board members a single question. Their responses provide keen insight to the issues and advancements that have shaped the O&P industry over the last decade.
What is the single most significant change you have seen in the O&P industry over the last ten years?
1. “We’ve altered our perception of the interface as simply needing to be…an attachment piece for components and to stay suspended on the limb, to one where we can extract a higher level of performance, a higher level of information about the interface environment, a source of feedback about the external environment, and, through the use of advanced materials, a breathable, dynamically morphing system, all while maintaining or exceeding traditional comfort levels.” —Randall Alley, CP, LP, FAAOP, biodesigns
2. “The development of immediate-fit stance-control orthoses. In order to provide a benchmark of comparison, you have to go back to the late 1960s and the development of the transparent check socket by Roy Snelson, CPO, and the availability of the pyramid modular pylon system by Otto Bock. The combination of these two clinical tools provided the prosthetist with a means to have an interim clinical step in the provision of a definitive prosthesis. —Gary Bedard, CO, FAAOP, Becker Orthopedic
3. “The single most significant change I have witnessed in the prosthetics and orthotics profession is the interest and acceptance in outcomes and research. I would speculate that there were as many scientific-based papers published over the past ten years as there were quality research publications in the prior 30 years combined.” —Robert Gailey, PhD, PT, University of Miami
4. “I would say that the most significant change in the O&P profession is the realization that greater (and more rigorous) evidence is not just needed but now required to justify the value of an orthosis and/or prosthesis as part of a treatment plan in allowing/enhancing a person’s functional capabilities.” —Christopher Hovorka, MS, CPO, LPO, FAAOP, Georgia Institute of Technology
5. Firms made the transition from mom and pops to being more clinical and professional—in location, decor, marketing, and services. There has been a boon in marketing direct to patients, especially with the glitzy product offerings that more closely mimic human movement like the Genium and the i-limb. —Patty Johnson, Ron Sonntag Public Relations
6. “The continued development and adoption of technology has been the biggest change. A good example is digital scanning, where costs have been dropping and there is simultaneously an increase in system accuracy and benefits. Another change has been the ease and speed of communication and response. We now routinely text a question to a practitioner and get an answer in a matter of minutes—in 140 characters or less.” —Séamus Kennedy, BEng, (Mech), CPed, Hersco Ortho Labs
7. “The entire value chain is more closely knit, influencing each element more than ever before. From research through reimbursement, from empowered patients to outcomes assessments, the world has gotten closer, and the result is an increased pace of advances that truly make a difference for patients of all types.” —Karen Lundquist, MBC, Otto Bock HealthCare
8. “Three major changes that I see [are] transitioning to a master of science degree as the entry-level degree, the wars in the Middle East as a stimulus for federally funded research in prosthetics, and the integration of electronics and power sources within components.” —Edward S. Neumann, PhD, PE, CP, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
9. “The paradigm of cost-based provision, this idea that all treatment protocols have as both their alpha and their omega [and] the profit to be derived from that protocol is the most abrupt shift in the delivery of care I’ve seen in this past decade. Though it has not been adopted universally or exclusively in orthotics and prosthetics, it certainly appears that it may be.” —Tony Wickman, CTPO, Freedom Fabrication
10. “The single most significant change would have to be in Medicare regulations extending from compliance through reimbursement levels. This aspect has driven everything from product design and materials selection through fabrication processes and education of practitioners. Its reach has been pervasive and will not ebb into the foreseeable future.” —Cherie Zeringue, MSME, MBA, Growth Solutions
Editor’s note: This is only a sampling of responses from our EAB. Look for the full, unabridged version in the January 17 edition of EDGE Direct.