2006 Conference General Sessions

 Step-by-Step AAC Funding Assistance from DynaVox Technologies

Presenter #1

Kristin Whitfield
DynaVox Technologies
652 Stonehenge Dr

Day Phone: 734—394—0376
Fax: 734—394—0376
Email: kristin.whitfield@dynavoxtech.com
Acquiring funding for AAC devices can be challenging and lengthy. This session will discuss a new tool designed to organize and simplify the funding process.

For new and experienced clinicians alike, acquiring funding for AAC devices can be challenging and lengthy. Research by Davis S Light (2004) found that the evaluation process has a median length of 120 minutes. This is compared to 60 minutes for a traditional speech and language evaluation. The difference is even greater when the full range of times is considered: 30—780 minutes for an AAC evaluation versus 20—200 minutes for a traditional evaluation. Writing the AAC evaluation report takes an additional 90 minutes (median time) compared to 60 minutes for a traditional speech and language valuation report. Again the difference is greater when the full range of times is considered: 10—1080 minutes for an AAC evaluation report versus 10—300 minutes for a traditional evaluation report.
Once the AAC evaluation and report are completed, speech—language pathologists are not finished with the funding process. According to Davis & Light (2004), speech—language pathologists spend and additional one to 25 hours (with a median of five hours) completing the documentation required for third-party funding. Finally, the study, indicated that speech—language pathologists continue to require more time to prepare for and provide therapy services to individuals using AAC.
This study’s participants were all members of ASHA’s Special Interest Division on Augmentative and Alternative Communication (Division 12) . While not required, it is likely that .these individuals have more experience with AAC evaluations, funding documentation, and therapy than speech—language pathologists in general. As a result, other clinicians may require significantly more time to provide appropriate AAC services to their clients. Additionally, this study does not include the time that family members and other professionals contribute to the funding process. If their time was included, the total number of hours needed to obtain a communication device would likely Increase significantly.  
Davis & Light (2004) concluded that providing ‘3AAC services required significantly more time.” Their recommendations focused on adjusting caseload/productivity to accommodate AAC users and finding alternate funding sources to cover the additional time required red to provide adequate AAC services. Both recommendations would allow speech-language pathologists more time to serve their AAC users over the long-term (i.e., from evaluations to receipt of the device to follow-up therapy)
Another option to reduce the time barrier is to examine the process for completing the documentation required for third—party funding. While this is a one-time effort, it represents an outlay of a great deal of time (median five hours). Several organizations currently provide resources to simplify this process. For example, the AAC-RERC’s (Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center) website provides detailed information regarding AAC device funding through Medicare. This information includes assessment protocols and sample reports. Since many insurance providers follow Medicare’s guidelines, this information may be applicable for individuals with other funding sources. Additional sites (e.g., Illinois Assistive Technology Program, North Dakota Interagency for Assistive Technology, Delaware Assistive Technology Initiative) provide state- Specific Medicaid funding information.
s a provider of high-tech AAC devices, DynaVox Technologies is also actively convicted in helping speech—language pathologists obtain funding for devices and accessories. In this process, DynaVox Funding Coordinators collect a variety of paperwork which contains similar information (e.g., name, address, diagnosis, date of birth, etc). Some of this paperwork is required by DynaVox and others is required by the third-party payer. Additional documentation concerns include the different requirements imposed by different funding sources. Confusion over which forms to complete and what information to include in evaluation reports can result in delays and increase the time speech—language pathologists spend completing funding documentations.
In an attempt to streamline the funding process, DynaVox has created a tool called the Funding Manager. Using the Funding Manager, it is hoped that clinicians will be able to complete funding documentation in a more timely and complete manner. This session will provide an overview of the DynaVox Funding Manager including case management, document completion, report writing, state—specific, and educational components.
AAC-RERC website. http://www.aac—rerc.com -- Medicare Funding of AAC Technology.
Information obtained on September 23, 2005. Supported in part by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR)
Davis, R. & Light, J. (2004) . AAC Service Delivery Survey: SLPs Time Allotment far AAC Services. Paper presented at the ASHA convention, November 2004.
Delaware Assistive Technology Initiative website,
Information obtained on September 23, 2005.
llinois Assistive Technology Program website, http://www.iltech.org/index.asp. Information obtained on September 23, 2005.
North Dakota Interagency Program for Assistive Technology website,
http://www.ndipat.org/products/acc/acc.htm. Information obtained on September 23, 2005.

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