Funding gaps, not technology, limit bionic devices | Wounded vets take part in prosthetic-legs testing for scuba diving | Study shows steep worldwide rise in peripheral artery disease
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August 1, 2013
AOPA In Advance SmartBrief
News for Professionals in the Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics Profession

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Funding gaps, not technology, limit bionic devices
Despite innovations in computerization, fabrication and wireless technology, medtech companies that build advanced bionic devices continue to face obstacles in securing venture capital funding, as well as the challenges of government approvals and getting reimbursement codes once their devices reach the market. "There are still insurance companies -- major insurance companies -- that have policies in place that say these microprocessors are experimental," said AOPA's Joe McTernan. "Just because you get coding doesn't mean you get adequate payment or coverage," said Kimberly Hanson, Ottobock regional director of reimbursement. Medical Device & Diagnostic Industry online (7/31)
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Wounded vets take part in prosthetic-legs testing for scuba diving
Veterans who are amputees in Key West, Fla., are testing prosthetic limbs for scuba divers through a joint initiative of the Combat Wounded Veterans Challenge and St. Petersburg College. Orthotist Michael McCauley says that research on underwater prostheses has been limited, and he could name only two companies that manufacture legs for underwater use. "[W]e need to do a better job designing underwater prostheses, and we need to raise awareness among manufacturers so they can create better underwater feet and legs," said orthotist and prosthetist Arlene Gilles. The News-Press (Fort Myers, Fla.) (tiered subscription model) (7/31)
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Medical News
Study shows steep worldwide rise in peripheral artery disease
The incidence of peripheral artery disease worldwide has risen by almost 25% in just the past decade, according to a study conducted by the University of Edinburgh and published in the medical journal Lancet. The increase appeared to be occurring throughout the world and not concentrated in any particular region. "[R]esearch would suggest that it's a combination of a wider exposure to the risk factors that cause artery blockages like smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes and [high] cholesterol," said Dr. Alan Hirsch. Voice of America (8/1)
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Polio strain in Israel is traced to Pakistan
A strain of polio discovered in Israel has been definitively traced to a virus type previously found only in Pakistan, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are trying to determine if the virus first reached Egypt, where it was detected in sewage last year, before being transmitted to Israel. No polio outbreaks have been reported in Egypt or Israel in at least five years, although Israel has begun an emergency inoculation program of some 200,000 children. (7/31)
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Legislative and Regulatory
EHR incentives hit $15.5B in June
The federal government has released $15.5 billion in EHR incentive payments as of the end of June, CMS data show. According to the agency, all but 11% of the nation's 5,011 eligible hospitals have registered with the program, while 24% of some 527,200 eligible physicians and other professionals have yet to register. Modern Healthcare (free registration)/Vital Signs blog (7/29), (7/30)
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Senators encourage open access to Medicare data
Opening public access to Medicare claims data would allow consumers and patient advocates to compare prices, Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, write. The two senators are co-sponsors of the Medicare Data Access for Transparency and Accountability Act, which would open access to the database with patient-identifying information removed but information on health care providers available. Politico (Washington, D.C.) (7/28)
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Business and Finance
O&P manufacturer among 7 to receive help from startup accelerator
BeTH, an O&P company that creates devices that are comfortable without requiring custom fabrication, was tapped to take part in a new Boston-based program for hardware startups called Bolt. The program will fund seven fledgling firms in its inaugural round, and the companies will receive $50,000, staff support and access to shop space with manufacturing equipment. Mass High Tech (Boston)/Startups & Venture Capital blog (7/31)
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A small-business guide to background checks
Performing exhaustive background checks on prospective employees can be costly and complicated for small businesses, and it isn't always necessary, experts say. Employers would be wise to use trusted sources to find prospective hires or consider prescreened individuals from nonprofit workforce-development firms, they say. Intuit Small Business Blog (7/30)
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Breaking news from AOPA
In today’s brief, AOPA is seeking video submissions for the O&P World Congress Opening Ceremony. The Early Bird registration deadline is approaching on Aug. 9--register now and save money! Learn about the technical education program coming up at the O&P World Congress and be sure to complete the 2013 Operating Performance & Compensation/Benefits Report today. An update on the Noridian prepayment review and an AOPAversity audio conference coming up—all of this and more in today’s AOPA Breaking News.
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Upcoming events
Aug. 9: Last day to save $100 off your World Congress registration
Aug. 14:
Don't Get Stuck with the Bill: Medicare Inpatient Billing (Telephone audio conference)
Learn more or register online
Aug. 28: 2013 HIPAA and the HITECH Final Rule Webinar
Learn more and register online
Sept. 11: Read Between the Lines: The Medicare Lower Limb Prosthetic Policy (Telephone audio conference)
Learn more or register online
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We choose our joys and sorrows long before we experience them."
-- Khalil Gibran,
Lebanese-American artist, poet and writer
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