METHODS: A cross-sectional pilot survey (Pakistan, Morocco, Nigeria, Malaysia) of health professionals' working in rehabilitation in hospital and community settings. A situational-analysis survey captured assessment of clinical skills required in various rehabilitation settings. Responses were coded in a line-by-line process, and linked to categories in domains of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF).
RESULTS: Respondents (n = 532) from Pakistan 248, Nigeria 159, Morocco 93 and Malaysia 32 included the following: physiotherapists (52.8%), nurses (8.8%), speech (5.3%) and occupational therapists (8.5%), rehabilitation physicians (3.8%), other doctors (5.5%) and prosthetist/orthotists (1.5%). The 10 commonly used clinical skills reported were prescription of: physical activity, medications, transfer-techniques, daily-living activities, patient/carer education, diagnosis/screening, behaviour/cognitive interventions, comprehensive patient-care, referrals, assessments and collaboration. There was significant overlap in skills listed irrespective of profession. Most responses linked with ICF categories in activities/participation and personal factors.
CONCLUSION: The core skills identified reflect general rehabilitation practice and a task-shifting approach, to address shortages of health workers in low-and middle-income countries.
METHODS: This study is based on the collective and direct experiences of the founding members of the HTAsiaLink Network. Data were collected from presentations they made at various international forums and additional information was reviewed. Data analysis was done using the framework developed by San Martin-Rodriguez et al.Results and Conclusions:HTAsiaLink is a network of health technology assessment (HTA) agencies in Asia established in 2011 with the aim of strengthening individual and institutional HTA capacity, reducing duplication and optimizing resources, transfer and sharing of HTA-related lessons among members, and beyond. During its 6 years, the network has expanded, initiating several capacity building activities and joint-research projects, raising awareness of the importance of HTA within the region and beyond, and gaining global recognition while establishing relationships with other global networks. The study identifies the determinants of success of the collaboration. The systemic factors include the favorable outlook toward HTA as an approach for healthcare priority setting in countries with UHC mandates. On organizational factors, the number of newly established HTA agencies in the region with similar needs for capacity building and peer-to-peer support was catalytic for the network development. The interactional aspects include ownership, trust, and team spirit among network members. The network, however, faces challenges notably, financial sustainability and management of the expanded network.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: A technology survey was completed by professionals (n = 36) attending O&M workshops in Malaysia. A revised survey was completed online by O&M specialists (n = 31) primarily in Australia. Qualitative data about technology use came from conferences, workshops and interviews with O&M professionals. Descriptive statistics were analysed together with free-text data.
RESULTS: Limited awareness of apps used by clients, unaffordability of devices, and inadequate technology training discouraged many O&M professionals from employing existing technologies in client programmes or for broader professional purposes. Professionals needed to learn smartphone accessibility features and travel-related apps, and ways to use technology during O&M client programmes, initial professional training, ongoing professional development and research.
CONCLUSIONS: Smartphones are now integral to travel with low vision or blindness and early-adopter O&M clients are the travel tech-experts. O&M professionals need better initial training and then regular upskilling in mainstream O&M technologies to expand clients' travel choices. COVID-19 has created an imperative for technology laggards to upskill for O&M tele-practice. O&M technology could support comprehensive O&M specialist training and practice in Malaysia, to better serve O&M clients with complex needs.Implications for rehabilitationMost orientation and mobility (O&M) clients are travelling with a smartphone, so O&M specialists need to be abreast of mainstream technologies, accessibility features and apps used by clients for orientation, mobility, visual efficiency and social engagement.O&M specialists who are technology laggards need human-guided support to develop confidence in using travel technologies, and O&M clients are the experts. COVID-19 has created an imperative to learn skills for O&M tele-practice.Affordability is a significant barrier to O&M professionals and clients accessing specialist travel technologies in Malaysia, and to O&M professionals upgrading technology in Australia.Comprehensive training for O&M specialists is needed in Malaysia to meet the travel needs of clients with low vision or blindness who also have physical, cognitive, sensory or mental health complications.