The Pathway from Technician to ATP
on August 15, 2022
The path from repair technician to assistive technology professional (ATP) is a common journey taken in the complex rehab industry. According to the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA), the ATP certification recognizes demonstrated competence in analyzing the needs of consumers with disabilities, assisting in the selection of appropriate assistive technology for the consumers' needs, and providing training in the use of the selected devices.
The better trained the technician, the more efficient they are, and the more accurate of an ATP they can become. Plus, these highly trained professionals can save time and money in the long run. How do we know that a better-trained technician saves a company time and money? The proof is in the pudding.
CRT equipment can be complicated to diagnose, and with seating functions and items that are needed for those who are unable to relieve pressure, there must be some electronic functionality. This has increased the complexity for repairing the equipment, along with limit switches and limitations for center of gravity and items we know very well, but most have no idea why it would be involved. It is imperative that ATPs and technicians be very clear in how they explain the process to the end-users of this equipment.
Is it possible to diagnose and triage the repair to decrease repair times? Absolutely. Would this cost more for diagnosis and repair? Yes, but if CRT providers are being paid for this service, then it would be much more likely that a repair technician and an ATP could complete a repair in a timelier manner while continuing to provide high-quality services. Plus, the end-user will stay healthier at a much higher rate with the result of having working equipment.
Another point to consider is the virtual component. We are seeing more CRT providers utilizing technology to try to diagnose issues with equipment, whether that be over the phone, through video, etc. If a technician is able to diagnose the issue with the end-user of the phone, that saves time, money, and effort when it comes to ordering parts.
Being able to accurately diagnose the equipment virtually, however, takes great skill by the repair technician. They must be very knowledgeable about the piece of equipment to be able to do this, and that’s where the importance of in-depth training comes into play.
The DMERT Group was formed as an effort to establish this competency standard. The DMERT Group is an industry supported non-profit certification body whose mission is to set the benchmark for DME and complex rehab repair training standards through industry collaboration. The DMERT Group has established a three-tier certification system. According to the DMERT Group:
- A DMERT Certified Technician is trained to troubleshoot an equipment repair more accurately, resulting in fewer field trips, saving fleet expenses and man-hours.
- DMERT Certification shows dedication to knowledgeable, quality client services, setting your business apart from the competition.
- A DMERT Certified Technician can improve client safety through quality work and repair, potentially decreasing your company's liability.
- The DMERT Certification program provides improved ability to determine a career path for potential technicians seeking employment.
According to a recent article from Greg Packer, president of U.S. Rehab,
“With the DMERT Group being accepted and their certification being used in the industry, we are seeing correlative FMA data that shows better patient satisfaction and high-quality repair performance. We are collecting data to validate the performance of quality repair technicians in the industry, which does make a difference. Again, this relates to big data to help us understand patient needs and performance to drive outcomes and satisfaction.”
“The DMERT Group training and certification programs will help us establish standards and performance in the industry. The better the technician, the quicker the diagnostics, the faster the parts are ordered, and the quicker the rehab provider can put the patient back in a finished piece of equipment.”
DMERT Level 1 certification includes repair competencies on basic medical equipment from walkers and manual wheelchairs to hospital beds, scooters, and Group 2 consumer power wheelchairs. Level 2 certification includes CRT manual wheelchairs, Group 3 power wheelchairs, and basic seating adjustments and installation. Level 3 certification would certify a technician trainer who is able to teach in community colleges or another approved training venue. For more information on each of the DMERT certification levels, visit the DMERT Group website.
Clear standards also help set the stage for providing training resources that can be utilized throughout the CRT industry. The DMERT Group and U.S. Rehab have developed online and in-person tech training courses that offer continuing education credit/CEUs that can be used toward sitting for the DMERT exams. Click here for more information on training.
- complex rehab
- dmert group
- tech training