Building Bridges

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By Andrea Spridgen
Andrea Spridgen

Successful rehabilitation outcomes rely on all members of the healthcare team working together for the benefit of the patient. To that end, cross-disciplinary partnerships and understanding can serve to improve the patient experience. Additionally, having someone in a patient advocate or patient coordinator role can help patients and O&P practitioners ensure that the patients receive timely care across the rehabilitation continuum and that reimbursements run smoothly. To provide insight into these topics, we devote this issue to building bridges-be it helping patients navigate the healthcare environment, finding ways to partner with other disciplines on alternative mobility measurements, or examining keys to successful collaboration.

"Helping Patients Navigate O&P Care" takes a look at how case managers and others in similar roles can help to ensure that patients don't get lost in the twists and turns of the healthcare system as they try to navigate between referring physicians, O&P providers, physical and occupational therapists, and other daily challenges that can make obtaining the appropriate services difficult. This feature also introduces a model incorporated from another healthcare discipline that's helping one O&P practice's patients as they move through rehabilitation.

Phil Stevens, MEd, CPO, FAAOP, in his article, "The Six-Spot Step Test Versus the EDSS: Measuring Ability Rather Than Disability in People With MS," makes a compelling case for broader multidisciplinary understanding as he examines the Expanded Disability Status Scale, which is commonly used by neurologists to measure the progression of patients' multiple sclerosis. Because the EDSS indicates a greater degree of disability if the patient uses an orthotic intervention, it disincentivizes both physician and patient from seeking orthotic assistance in what many orthotists would deem an optimal timeframe. However, with a better understanding of an alternative mobility measurement to determine to what extent the patient benefits from an orthosis, physicians might be more inclined to work with orthotists and seek earlier interventions for their patients.

Most of us have, at one point or another, found ourselves in a collaborative relationship that did not work to our satisfaction. "Taking the Labor Out of Collaboration" seeks to outline some best practices to help you get first-rate results out of your next collaborative project.

As you read this issue, I hope you will gain tools for better building your professional bridges. And as the year draws to a close, I want to thank you all for sharing it with The O&P EDGE and wish you joy throughout the season.