Stakeholders seek to improve ‘pathway’ to clinicians

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Friday, April 10, 2020

YARMOUTH, Maine – One-third of clinicians recently surveyed by the Clinician Task Force have seen their seating clinics closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, says Cathy Carver.

The closures are a result of a number of issues, including patients not wanting to come into the clinics and of clinicians being moved to other parts of hospitals to respond to the crisis.

“Access to clinicians in the traditional seating clinic setting is challenging in some areas,” said Carver, executive director of the CTF, during a recent webcast.

The CTF surveyed its 80 members in 36 states to assess the current situation for clinicians.

The clinics that are still open are screening and prioritizing patients, and seeing them on a limited scale, Carver says.

“It’s on a case-by-case basis,” she said.

The CTF is working on ways to “improve pathways” to clinicians during the crisis, including getting CMS to recognize PTs and OTs as clinicians who are eligible to bill for telehealth under Medicare.

“Right now that’s a key issue we’re working on,” said Don Clayback, executive director of NCART.

Unfortunately, access to clinicians won’t be resolved when the crisis is resolved, Carver says.

“When we do settle down from this, the backlog and the waitlist of people being able to get back into clinics—that’s one thing that’s weighing heavy,” she said. “The waiting list at my own clinic is 65 deep.”

This is a point that clinicians and suppliers need to educate their patients on, Carver says.

“We want people to feel good about allowing someone into their homes or coming to the clinic,” she said. “But the longer they wait to have the assessment, the potentially longer the wait is on the back end. If we have to slow down manufacturing (due to the crisis), they’re going to have to pick it back up (after the crisis).”

It’s an evolving process, Carver says, but “we’re trying to keep tabs on how to keep access there.”