Why Have Standards for Repair Training?

Published in Complex Rehab on February 10, 2022

Training for repair technicians has been fairly subjective over the years. Historically, training has been limited to on-the-job training, manufacturer training, and training offered by U.S. Rehab or other industry groups. However, specific standards have not previously been in place. It has been up to each employer or manufacturer to determine if a repair technician has the right skills to be able to correctly repair DME or complex rehab equipment. It is important that the CRT industry provides training standards for repair techs so the industry can set the standard before it is imposed, provide training resources that cover foundational knowledge, elevate the status of the repair technician, and provide an entry-level career path in the industry to help with the growing demand of ATPs.

Standards and Resources for Repair Training

The CRT industry is a niche segment of the HME industry. It takes a person with heart and compassion to work with people with mobility limitations. U.S. Rehab has heard from our members for many years about the woes of recruiting and training both repair techs and ATPs. If you’re unable to find someone who is already a trained repair tech or ATP, the right candidate must be trained. Having access to quality training resources is also incredibly important to get the right candidate working as quickly as possible.

As the industry turns to become professionalized, argue for increases in reimbursement rates, and as we look to have a separate benefit for complex rehab, standards in training and certification should be followed, not only with ATPs, but also with repair techs. Why wait for CMS to impose their policies on our industry when we can be proactive and help determine what the standards should be? We have had anecdotal knowledge of what a good repair tech can do. Standards will help solidify our anecdotal knowledge.

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 time spent on the repair 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.

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.

Certifications with a Career Path

Establishing standards for repair training also allows for techs to work toward a level of understanding. The DMERT Group certification structure can provide repair techs with a career path, providing new employees a sense of trajectory or a goal to which they can work.

Complex rehab equipment is becoming more complex (pun intended). The advanced electronic systems on power wheelchairs require specialized skills to be able to properly troubleshoot, diagnose issues, and make adjustments. Repair standards allow for the industry to provide a level of protection on the patients, ensuring that only properly trained technicians repair medical devices.

The skillset of a repair tech vs. an ATP has always been a gray area. Standardizations for repair techs allow employers to create guidelines of what work should be done by a repair tech or by an ATP. At the same time, standardizations can help repair techs work toward the next step in their complex rehab industry career, whether that be the next level of DMERT certification or pursuing ATP certification.

U.S. Rehab and other CRT industry stakeholders fiscally contribute and support the DMERT Group. To learn more about the DMERT Group and its efforts, visit dmertgroup.com.


TAGS

  1. complex rehab
  2. tech training

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