Standards for Assistive Technology Funding: What are the Right Criteria?

About the Webcast

The Assistive Technology (AT) Working Group addressed the issue of the expectation of an evidence-based standard to determine AT product efficacy, and the impact of this standard on the transfer, use, and payment for assistive technologies designed for persons with disabilities. The highest level of evidence is produced through randomized controlled trials; however, that option is rarely feasible when establishing accuracy of effectiveness in assistive rehabilitation technologies because often the solutions provided are unique to an individual. This issue must be addressed so that it does not limit access to rehabilitation assistive technologies by those who need them. In this webcast, the presenters describe the context and discuss recommendations from the white paper developed by the group, Standards for assistive technology funding: What are the right criteria?

Sponsored by the Center on KTDRR during 2012-2014, the AT Working Group was facilitated by Jim Leahy, co-principal investigator of the Center on Knowledge Translation for Technology Transfer (KT4TT). Members of the AT Working Group represent five key stakeholder groups (AT Consumers, AT Service Providers, AT Researchers and Methodologists, AT Manufacturers/Product Developers, and AT Payers and Policy Makers) that comprise the entire system of manufacture, prescription, application, funding, reimbursement, and efficacy research within each field of AT devices and services.

Recommendations set forth by the AT Working Group in the white paper and webcast included conducting an intra-agency Department of Health and Human Services conference with agencies such as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and NIDILRR to consider and define the hierarchy of evidence needed for the determination of AT safety and effectiveness; AT best clinical practices guidelines; the appropriateness and practicality of AT data collection methods; and the creation, utilization and promotion of a national AT usage and outcomes database. The AT working group also recommends that legislative action should be taken to define the types of AT that are designed to meet the long-term needs for persons with disabilities separate from the policies governing Durable Medical Equipment to allow improved recognition and policies, as well as to shift the AT reimbursement model from being purely a medical model to a model that also considers the social and functional context of the AT user.

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About the Presenters

Photo of James Leahy

James Leahy, BS, is Co-Principal Investigator on the NIDILRR-funded Center on Knowledge Translation for Technology Transfer (KT4TT) at the University at Buffalo. Mr. Leahy leads Project D1, where he generates new product outcomes from original R&D and demonstrates effective technology transfer practices to US Department of Education/National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research technology grantees. In 1993, Leahy brought 20 years of invention evaluation, product development, and project management experience to the University of Buffalo's Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Technology Transfer (T2RERC). Over the years, he has led the T2RERC's Supply Push technology transfer program and created a corporate collaboration program through which the T2RERC partnered with Fortune 500 companies to improve the accessibility and usability of new mainstream products. He is a patent holder and serves as a technology transfer consultant to assistive technology inventors.

Photo of Donald E. Clayback

Donald E. Clayback is Executive Director of the National Coalition for Assistive and Rehab Technology (NCART). NCART is a national association of complex rehab technology (CRT) providers and manufacturers focused on ensuring individuals with disabilities have appropriate access to CRT products and services. In this role, he has responsibility for monitoring, analyzing, reporting, and influencing legislative and regulatory activities. He also serves as Chair of the Separate Benefit Category Steering Committee. Don has over 25 years of experience in the CRT and Home Medical Equipment industry as a provider, consultant, and advocate and is a frequent speaker at state and national conferences.