Episode 30 - Heidi Carpenter - ArizOTA & Assistive Technology

Technology is Transforming Occupational Therapy.

  • 00:10:11 - 05:10:11

    Jerrod Bailey 00:02

    Welcome, everyone to Reimagining Healthcare: A New Dialogue with Risk and Patient Safety Leaders presented by Medplace. We're excited to bring you conversations with top risk and patient safety thought leaders from organizations around the country, please subscribe to get the latest news and content. And if you found this episode valuable by all means, share it with your communities like to see these dialogues continue. If you're interested in participating as a guest, please email us at speakers@medplace.com. And you can also check out any of our related content like articles, videos and more at blog.medplace.com/resources.

    So last time, we were joined by Jo Shapiro where we discussed physician well-being and peer support. Today I'm joined by Dr. Heidi Carpenter, the President have helped me out is it Arizona OTA or Arizona? How do we want to pronounce that?


    Heidi Carpenter 01:16

    You got it? It's the Arizona Occupational Therapy Association. ArizOTA.


    Jerrod Bailey 01:22

    Arizona. I love it. Okay, I thought that was the case. But I'm glad I got it. Right. So. So why don't you tell me about yourself with what how did you get started in occupational therapy? Tell us a little bit about her SOTA in, you know what the mission is.


    Heidi Carpenter 01:41

    So, thank you so much for having me. I am an Occupational Therapist, and I've been practicing since 2015. across the lifespan, so babies fresh to you know, fresh to us all the way to elders, I think my oldest patient was 101. It was pretty much. And so I got started in occupational therapy, because I just have a love for helping people and understanding what their motivations are. My mother is a retired special education preschool teacher. So I was exposed to the school side of therapies pretty early on. I did my undergraduate studies and psychology and occupational therapy ended up being the perfect fit for me being that interest and healthcare and how our body works. But then also that more psychology angle as well and mental health helping people really engaged in what they want to do every day. I love it.


    Jerrod Bailey 02:48

    Well, so we do a lot of conversations around workers comp here in different types of angles around it. Where does occupational therapy come in during the workers comp process?


    Heidi Carpenter 03:02

    So several different places some where you might expect others a little bit more creatively. So I don't have a ton of experience in this area. However, when I did work in outpatient therapy, we did see people who were under work workers compensation when they had an injury at their workplace. And so we were seeing them for more hand therapy focused rehabilitation. So I had my weekly forms I had to fill out for workers compensation and


    Jerrod Bailey 03:34

    the whole thing isn’t it?


    Heidi Carpenter 03:36

    document progress, or you know, the patient's status. So other places where it comes in, maybe not as traditionally is from a preventative angle, any companies that are bringing occupational therapy professionals in from an ergonomic standpoint or general safety, workplace training, work hardening skills. There's the Fontana center in Louisiana, who they are very proactive with their workers. They have very intense physically demanding jobs, they have occupational therapy professionals that work with their employees to hopefully prevent workplace injuries.


    Jerrod Bailey 04:21

    That is sounds like a good strategy in general. So tell me about Arizona what what's the what's the mission of your organization who belongs to it and when you talk about there,


    Heidi Carpenter 04:35

    yeah, so we are a 501 C six professional organization. And our main goals are advocacy for the profession of occupational therapy in Arizona, and also providing support and education to our members who are occupational therapy. practitioners. So occupational therapists, occupational Therapy assistance, and then also students who are in OT or OTA programs. So we provide a lot of education through continuing education, which we need to renew our licensure. So we provide free or low cost. And then we also do quite a bit of advocacy with our state legislators. So any bills that come up, or our payers in the states, if any of our having issues with any of those stakeholders, we can take a role in advocating,


    Jerrod Bailey 05:37

    right, what what are the like the main things that are kind of the most topical for her sort of this year? Like there's always some themes that sort of rise up and it's usually kind of for any given organization, there's usually a few that hyper one's kind of talking about this year, like, what are the main themes that you guys are exploring?


    Heidi Carpenter 05:56

    So as I'm sure you know, healthcare is evolving, and we're seeing a lot of aftermath of what COVID brought to us. So telehealth continues to be a pretty big topic. Prior to COVID. Our state board was silent on if we could provide services via telehealth. And so now our Practice Act is going under revisions to include that we have an occupational therapy practitioner on at the state level, the committee that is basically coming out with the rules for telehealth based on the bill that was passed last year. So we're actively involved in following what telehealth looks like, as a profession


    Jerrod Bailey 06:49

    has biggest sort of opportunity with telehealth and occupational therapy, is it to be able to do things virtually and be able to do provide more services to more people in more areas is that sort of


    Heidi Carpenter 07:00

    the goal? That's exactly it. So we have a lot of rural areas in Arizona and healthcare does, where literally and figuratively, where people just don't have access to services or have to drive hours to get services. So there are a lot of models that are done in telehealth, whether it's best to see the patient first in person and then do follow ups via telehealth. There's a lot of different ways to do it. But it does allow us to access people who are in rural underserved areas, as well. It's just I mean it you know how long it takes to get across Phoenix. And so if you can see,


    Jerrod Bailey 07:43

    I never do it. That's how long it takes us to do that.


    Heidi Carpenter 07:47

    You have to pack a snack. You know, depending on the circumstances, we certainly can't do all aspects of our services via telehealth, but many can be.


    Jerrod Bailey 08:03

    Yeah, and a lot of times it's so funny COVID is horrible is that was it the one thing it taught us is how much we can do virtually, and how effective that is? And how we can reduce so many barriers to getting health care leads just being seen by specialists so that we can then decide what the next best step is, right? If we're going to invest in driving across the state, you want to do it knowing that you're heading to the place that's going to give you the answer versus before you might have to drive across the state just to investigate, right. So it really opened our eyes and frankly, it benefited Medplace.


    We it taught doctors how to do everything virtually to where when we launched the company was the beginning of cover middle of COVID. All the physicians were already used to using zoom and to say, oh, yeah, no problem, like a year before that it would have been like, what do I press? And what's the button. So we benefited from, from COVID sort of forcing us all online. But you know, what we're doing now with like, we do a lot with critical access in rural facilities that really desperately need access economically viable access to specialists at very specific in very key times of operating their hospital in and it's you know, to be able to see the dismantling of borders and to be able to connect somebody at a critical access hospital with one of the top neurosurgeons in the country for a 30 minute conversation can be really a big deal. Right. And to do it quickly. So I you know, as hard as COVID was, I think that we learned a lot and I think it changed what we have access to and it's really great to hear that occupational therapies, hopefully going to be benefiting from that from that same trend right


    Heidi Carpenter 09:59

    now Absolutely and especially what you speak to with accessing specialists. I'm not a certified Hand Therapist, but I still have the same basic skill set as an occupational therapist. So if I could be in one of those rural settings, which I did work down in Sierra Vista, and you know, we see patients from Douglas and Nogales and Rio Rico, so but having access to somebody who is a specialist who can provide insight, then I can follow through on a protocol that I might not have otherwise been able to follow through on. So it absolutely increases collaboration and intra as well as intra enterprise communication and collaboration as well.


    Jerrod Bailey 10:42

    It is really the coolest thing I'm seeing right now is the amount of collaboration that's being opened up in the industry. I mean, the answers are there. The experiences there, the people are there, they even have the availability, the interest is just creating ways for them to connect at the right time, is really interesting, right? When you look at these other industries and gig economies and marketplaces and all this stuff set up, that's, that's creating all sorts of new opportunities and creating holding markets, like even in that, like the peer review space that we're in.


    We it's not uncommon, we'll walk into a rural clinic that will do like four independent peer reviews a year. And that's as much as they can handle because how are you going to find a doctor to do a peer review for you, right? But once they like, get on a technology that feels like ordering an Uber, right, it's as predictable as that you see your little car approaching? And and you know, you can trust it in every airport that you're in, it's gonna be the same experience. Well, once that becomes an experience, that same hospitals doing like 30 something independent reviews a year, when it's easy, right, it becomes easier to do that.


    So I find that really stimulating like this idea of new models and new ways of interconnecting a lot of it's driven by technology, but it's just really kind of facilitating connections between already talented people out there that just needed the bridge, right? Absolutely. So technology. So I talked about technology all the time, obviously, I'm like one trick pony. It's the lens through which I see the entire world. How does technology play into occupational therapies? It does come up as a topic with you guys. So whatever capacity


    Heidi Carpenter 12:26

    right, so aside from the telehealth technology, there, I think there are more opportunities for how technology can help, specifically occupational therapy than there might be solutions currently. So smart houses have been huge for helping our clients who aren't as physically able access their homes. So voice activated devices, being able to control your house from your smartphone. So that is huge if you have a physical disability, or you're not able to move your arms or limbs as well as you would need or like to. Because now if you're able to do, basically, right, yeah, with you could have a stylus in your mouth, and you could basically control your whole house. And oh, my gosh, all right.


    Jerrod Bailey 13:17

    I would love to see an example of that. I don't know if you have any links you can send to me afterwards. But like, I get really inspired when someone says, look, here's here's somebody who does not have use of their of their arms and legs, but they can live significantly better in more autonomous life now than they could five years ago. Because of all of these smart home innovations and things like that. Like it just takes like one vision of that like seeing it working to really kind of catalyze a whole industry.


    Heidi Carpenter 13:51

    It's happening. And I mean, even things like Alexa, I had a patient where Alexa saved his life, because he had a stroke in his spinal cord in the middle of the night. And he could not move. And he was able to have Alexa call 911.


    Jerrod Bailey 14:13

    That's amazing. I mean, I have a lot of smart things in my house. Because I'm a technology person. I love surrounding myself with these things and figuring out how they work. And you know, if you're sitting in my house, you can say you can ask Google to turn on the backyard lights and they magically come on. And people will see that. And just that little example, will make them go How did you do that? That's like magic. Well, actually, it's not magic. It's very ubiquitous. You can set it up yourself.


    It's not even expensive anymore in blah, blah, blah. And it's those little interactions that are teaching us I think is society the next level of pest that it's okay, maybe you can control your backyard lights, but can you call 911 Can you let someone into your house? You know who is trying to deliver aid and things like that there's so many great things that are not far away from turning on your backyard lights that are completely available to us now. But I think as we get exposed to those, in general we start to see what's possible. And then that makes that not seem so futuristic, right? The idea of somebody controlling your house with a stylus, it really doesn't seem that far away at all, in fact.


    Heidi Carpenter 15:23

    Right, right, exactly. And so I'm really appreciative to technology companies that are incorporating all of that, and you know, Apple, how they've made everything very inclusive and accessible. And you can take trainings as a provider, how to teach your clients how to access those features. That's really exciting. So it's really speaking to a culture that is embracing everyone's differences. Instead of just, like, just fit in to what is there an existing so the innovation level is really exciting for our kids, really anybody but we see it more in kids who need an augmentative communication device, they've gotten smaller, lighter, cheaper, more durable, more predictive of text. So children who are non speaking can use these applications to communicate their feelings through written communication, because these devices are speaking for them, but they're putting in the words.


    Jerrod Bailey 16:30

    Not amazing. What was it the Top Gun remake that just came out? This last year? Val Kilmer. Did you see that? Did you see a movie?


    Heidi Carpenter 16:38

    I did not.


    Jerrod Bailey 16:40

    Okay, well, you gotta check it out. It's great. Well, Val Kilmer, who was in the original, he's in the new one. And everyone knows that he lost his voice, he lost him to cancer, right? So he has doesn't have the ability to speak and yet he was delivering lines in the movie. And what I understand is that those were assembled through AI, right. So they ran a bunch of old movies through AI engine, they developed a simulated voice model that they were in it being able to use on screen and how the expectation, even for folks like Val Kilmer is that his voice will eventually be able to be integrated back into his body in in in a synthesized way. But actually let him be able to communicate the way I find that fascinating. And when you look at AI, and what's capable of today, and how this year has just been the explosion of AI. It's super interesting just to hear how it can help a child communicate again, in ways that just we didn't, couldn't even imagine, even five years ago, right.

How can technology improve the quality of life for people living with disabilities?

Heidi Carpenter, an occupational therapist and the president of ArizOTA, specializes in treating differently-abled patients. Whether managing a lifelong disability or a work-related injury, technology helps Heidi's patients experience newfound autonomy and comfort.

In part 1 of Medplace's discussion with Carpenter, we explore the ways AI can help patients with speech, life-saving voice assistants, and accessing specialists for outpatient care. Stay tuned for part 2!


Guest - Heidi Carpenter

President of Arizona Occupational Therapy Association

Heidi Carpenter is an Academic Fieldwork Coordinator and Assistant Professor in the OTD program at Huntington University and works with individuals across all age groups. She leads the Arizona Occupational Therapy Association.

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