AOPA 2015 National Assembly: Data, Value, and Outcomes

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Winners of the Spirit of Texas trophies were presented in three categories, depending on booth size. First and second place winners, respectively, were: 1-3 booths, Bulldog Tools and WillowWood; 4-6 booths, Cascade Orthopedic Supply and Becker Orthopedic; and 7 or more booths, Optec USA (pictured above) and Ottobock. Photographs courtesy of Laura Fonda Hochnadel.

Data, value, and outcomes-these were a trio of talking points that Charles H. Dankmeyer Jr., CPO, 2015 president of the American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association (AOPA) emphasized during his opening remarks at the association's 98th National Assembly, held in San Antonio, Texas, October 7-10. "Having the data to prove the value of the services leading to successful, cost-effective outcomes is a very powerful message," he said.

Ret. Lt. Col. Donald Gajewski, MD, former director of the Center for the Intrepid (CFI), San Antonio, built on the importance of O&P professionals as part of the healthcare team; as the keynote speaker, he followed Dankmeyer's address on Thursday, October 8. Gajewski spoke about his work with wounded warriors at CFI, sometimes wiping tears from his eyes as he discussed their limb loss and bravery, and the devastating effects of war. He also shared three lessons that he has learned from his work with individuals with amputations:

  • The use of the best technology is not always the best use of technology.
  • It's not what you put on the patient, it's what you put in the prosthesis. Rehabilitation is key to successful prosthetic usage and it's important to make sure the patient is mentally ready.
  • As a surgeon, nothing beats a stable soft tissue envelope; comfort, not length is the goal.

"Thank you for what you do every day," he told the audience. "Your job is a lifetime of making patients' lives better. And I thank each and every one of you for what you do."

In true Texas style, it was a large gathering and cowboy hats abounded, as did large solutions. More than 2,200 orthotic, prosthetic, and pedorthic professionals attended the National Assembly. They had the opportunity to earn upward of 30 continuing education credits in clinical, technical, and business tracks, as approved by the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics (ABC) and the Board of Certification/Accreditation (BOC). There were prosthetic, orthotic, and outcomes symposiums and pedorthic and technical education programs from which to choose. Expectedly, any session related to Medicare audits and reimbursements was well attended. Among the most well-received pedorthic-related sessions was "Research = The Future of Pedorthics," by Geza Kogler, PhD, CO. He offered practical solutions to help pedorthists measure outcomes related to foot orthotic usage, and offered this suggestion: "How can you contribute to research? [I]t's actually not that hard. All we do in research is measure stuff and then document that."

Standard Cyborg demonstrated 3D printing in miniature form.

The AOPA membership meeting and awards ceremony were held Saturday morning, during which newly elected officers for 2016 were announced. Effective December 1, Dankmeyer moves to the position of immediate past president; James Campbell, PhD, CO, president; Michael Oros, CPO, FAAOP, president-elect; James Weber, MBA, vice president; Jeff Collins, CPA, was elected to a second term as treasurer; Brad Ruhl was named a supplier director; David Boone, PhD, MPH, CP, was named clinical director; and David McGill was named director at-large.

In his acceptance speech, Campbell stressed the importance of outcomes, continued research, and working together for the greater good. "Our evidence base may be immature, but it is building," he said. "If we are to stand any chance of defending the industry, the profession, and the patients from those who...undermine the value of what we do, the ongoing development and establishment of evidence base is of critical importance.... And it will be crucial that we respond collectively during this next year and on into the future."

The 2016 AOPA National Assembly is slated for September 8-11 at the Hynes Convention Center, Boston.

-Laura Fonda Hochnadel