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Service Delivery: Preparing for the ATP Exam

Service Delivery: Preparing for the ATP Exam
Michelle Lange, OTR, ABDA, ATP/SMS
November 17, 2016

Michelle: Thanks everyone for joining me for this course in the series of courses that we have put together to help prepare you for the ATP exam. Service delivery may not seem quite as exciting as some of our other more content-specific topics of assistive technology like seating or mobility, but it is very important. However it is important that we take a step back and reflect on how we deliver the services to our clients. This is a part of the exam that is addressed and so we need to review that here today.

What We Are Covering

Under the umbrella of service delivery, we are going to be covering actually quite a bit.
  • Ethics
  • Standards of Practice
  • Information Resources
  • Service Delivery Systems
  • Service Delivery Roles
  • Consumer Empowerment
  • Quality Assurance and Outcomes
  • Product Development and Principles of Design
  • Liability 

We will briefly go through each of these. Ethics are a very important part of what we do. It is something that is easy to not think about directly as we are cranking out reports, seeing clients, and filling out forms, but it is something that permeates everything that we do. Thus it is an important part of service delivery and the assistive technology professional credential. We need to agree to follow the RESNA Code of Ethics by obtaining this certification. We are also going to look at standards of practice; information resources; service delivery systems and roles; what we can do to empower the consumer; quality assurance, both of services but also products as well; outcomes; product development and principles of design; and finally liability.

The ATP Certification

The content in this series is to prepare you, the participant, to take the ATP certification examination. The Assistive Technology Professional (ATP) certification is offered through RESNA (Figure 1).


Figure 1. ATP certification. 

It is designed to demonstrate a basic level of competence in the practice area of assistive technology. Currently, over 4,000 people hold this certification. Now the candidate must fulfill specific prerequisites before qualifying to take this exam, and that information is on the RESNA website. For occupational therapy practitioners with a Bachelor's or Master's degree, 1,000 hours of work experience is required over a six-year period of time.


Let's start with ethics. It is always good to start with the definition. Ethics is:

an area of study that deals with ideas about what is good and bad behavior: a branch of philosophy dealing with what is morally right or wrong.
Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

RESNA has a code of ethics, as does our other professional organizations such as AOTA. RESNA has decreed that anyone holding the assistive technology professional certification has to comply with both the RESNA Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice. Violation of either of those can result in punitive action. The credential is overseen by the Professional Standards Board, or PSB, and any complaints are filed to them just like other professional organizations. Someone has the ability to contact the governing board and make a formal complaint if there is a concern. By pursuing this certification, we are agreeing to follow this particular code of ethics. I would encourage you to pull these up on the RESNA website, but we are going to review some of the highlights here. Again, this is content that is included on that examination.

First, we need to hold paramount the welfare of persons served professionally. Now this is hopefully common sense to all of us. We have gone into this field to help the clients that we serve. Ultimately, what we are doing is for the client's benefit.

Another very important aspect of the RESNA Code of Ethics is scope of service. We agree to practice only in the areas of competence and maintain high standards. The example I like to give is splinting. Now in my own practice, I do not do splinting. I used to, but it was some time ago. I was actually pretty good at it, but it would not be ethical for me to try to split a client because I am not qualified to do so anymore. It is beyond my current scope of service. It is equally unethical of me to note a need and not do something about it. If I see a client that requires a splint, I refer them to someone who does know about splinting in my area. The is the same with assistive technology, just like all of our areas of practice. There are areas that I feel competent in, and I will see a client and deliver those services. There are other areas that I am not competent in. I need to make sure that I do not try to provide those services, but rather refer clients to other professionals as I do all the time. I see very complex clients, and I might need to refer them to a certain physician, maybe an orthopedist, maybe another occupational therapist that can do something like splinting.

Another key part of this code of ethics is to maintain the confidentiality of privileged information. Most of us are very aware of HIPAA. We need to be careful with confidential information and take care of the proper forms. If we are sharing information with other professionals, we have to make sure we have a release to do so. If we are taking photos, whether it is for education or to include with funding documentation, I need to make sure I have the proper releases. If not, I have to follow proper guidelines. The American Medical Association requires that the face be obscured or covered in a photo if there is not a release. That simple black box over the eyes is no longer considered acceptable by the American Medical Association. A larger portion of the face needs to be covered.

The next area is engage in no conduct that constitutes a conflict of interest or that adversely reflects on the association and, more broadly, on professional practice. Any of us could have a real or perceived conflict of interest. I do quite a bit of education as part of my job. Oftentimes, I am required to fill out forms that explain any potential conflict of interest. Part of that might be financial. For example, if I am being paid by a supplier of durable medical equipment to perform a seating evaluation, there is a potential conflict. I can try to be as objective in my evaluation as possible, but if they are paying me, it might be a conflict. If I know they are hoping that I will recommend some equipment, equipment that they can then provide and profit from, this is a conflict. Because of this very conflict, most suppliers will not pay a therapist to do any sort of evaluation. They will insist that another funding source, such as Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance. It is important that we do not engage ourselves in any activity that might constitute conflict of interest or that adversely reflects on our professional associations, whether that be RESNA, AOTA, APTA, and more generally, on our whole professional practice. Whenever we act in a substandard way, that is really a poor reflection on our entire practice.

michelle lange

Michelle Lange, OTR, ABDA, ATP/SMS

Michelle is an occupational therapist with 25 years of experience and former Clinical Director of The Assistive Technology Clinics of The Children’s Hospital of Denver. She is a well-respected lecturer, both nationally and internationally and has authored 7 book chapters and over 175 articles. She is the editor of Fundamentals in Assistive Technology, 4th ed. Michelle is on the teaching faculty of RESNA and the University of Pittsburgh. She is on the RERC on Wheeled Mobility Advisory Board. Michelle is a credentialed ATP, credentialed SMS and is a Senior Disability Analyst of the ABDA.

Related Courses

Sensory Technologies: Preparing for the ATP Exam
Presented by Michelle Lange, OTR, ABDA, ATP/SMS
Recorded Webinar
Course: #2630Level: Introductory1 Hour
The RESNA Assistive Technology Professional certification examination includes questions from a variety of content areas. One of those areas is Sensory Technologies. This module will cover the content area including technologies for people who are hard of hearing, deaf, have low vision, are blind or who are deaf blind.

A New Era: From EADLs to Alexa!
Presented by Michelle Lange, OTR, ABDA, ATP/SMS
Recorded Webinar
Course: #3699Level: Intermediate1 Hour
Electronic Aids to Daily Living provide an alternative means of controlling devices, primarily within the home environment, including audiovisual equipment, lighting, and thermostats. Advances in consumer home automation technologies have opened new control opportunities for people with disabilities. This course is directly related to the practice of physical therapy and is therefore appropriate for the PT/PTA.

Dynamic Seating
Presented by Michelle Lange, OTR, ABDA, ATP/SMS
Recorded Webinar
Course: #3093Level: Intermediate1 Hour
Dynamic seating has four primary functions – to allow movement, to diffuse force, to protect the client, and to protect the seating system and mounting hardware. This course will take a look at the product options, discuss clinical indicators and contra-indicators for dynamic components and present case studies to illustrate these points.

Positioning the Head
Presented by Michelle Lange, OTR, ABDA, ATP/SMS
Recorded Webinar
Course: #3098Level: Intermediate2 Hours
This course will discuss various strategies to optimize head position. First, we will explore strategies beyond the head support, including specific positioning interventions and addressing visual issues. Second, we will explore posterior head supports in depth, matching specific features to client needs. Third, we will explore other options which may be required if posterior support alone is inadequate, including anterior head support.

Positioning the Pelvis
Presented by Michelle Lange, OTR, ABDA, ATP/SMS
Recorded Webinar
Course: #3157Level: Intermediate1 Hour
The position of the pelvis very much determines the position of the trunk and lower extremities and so achieving and maintaining the optimal position is critical. This course will present common pelvic asymmetries with suggested strategies to address each challenge. Providing as neutral a pelvic position as possible improves overall posture, stability and function.

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