ISPO Australia’s Science and Research Committee is pleased to announce that the 2019 ANMS-ISPO Research Grant has been awarded to Dr Emily Ridgewell AOPA Research Officer, supported by Leigh Clarke AOPA CEO, Dr Sarah Anderson and Prof Michael Dillon from La Trobe University.

This grant will support stage two of the AOPA Consumer Experience Project – a new national approach to consumer experience benchmarking in orthotic/prosthetic service provision. The ISPO Research Grant is awarded every two years and provides up to AUD$20,000 for projects of research that will, in the long-term, contribute to improve quality of life of individuals suffering of neuromuscular or musculoskeletal pathologies who might benefit from prostheses or orthoses.

The AOPA Consumer Experience Project is a new program that will enable orthotic and prosthetic service providers to seamlessly collect feedback on the consumer experience, and to view this information using a private web-portal and analyse according to a range of consumer- or practice-related variables. Providers taking part in the program will be able to use this data to drive internal quality improvement activities, but more importantly, will be able to publish their ‘average consumer experience scores’ against National Benchmarks, thereby giving consumers confidence of receiving high quality orthotic/prosthetic care.

Transparent reporting of consumer experience scores allows consumers to make informed decisions about their choice of health service, based on the experience of others. Consumer choice is now a core feature of the provision of O&P services in Australia due to the participant-led nature of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). Introduction of the NDIS has resulted in a shift from traditional block funded disability services to a consumer driven environment, making consumer satisfaction, service quality and market competitiveness critical components for NDIS success. However, there is currently no substantive basis upon which consumers requiring orthotic and prosthetic services can base decisions regarding their preferred service provider.

The AOPA Consumer Experience Project will address this issue by giving providers access to a platform where they can collect and analyse consumer feedback and publish their consumer experience scores against National Benchmarks. Given this program closes the feedback loop for each participating provider and allows opportunity to focus quality improvement initiatives, it is anticipated that this project will also drive a nation-wide improvement in standards of orthotic/prosthetic services.

The Consumer Experience Project comprises two stages. The first includes development and implementation of the program, and AOPA is pleased to have recruited c-OP Julia Hibma into a six-month role to execute stage 1. Julia is an experienced orthotist / prosthetist across public, private, metro and rural settings and brings to the AOPA staff team a range of experiences in project delivery, quality improvement initiatives and the use of IT platforms.

The second stage of the project, supported by the 2019 ANMS ISPO Research Grant, will involve the extraction of data from the Program, resulting in the publishing of National Benchmarks for consumer experience in orthotic/prosthetic services. Consumer experience data will be analysed across all participating providers, over a specified time period, and National Benchmarks defined. These benchmarks will be published online along with a range of accessible resources and will be updated regularly, for example, every 12 months.

Providers of orthotic/prosthetic services are encouraged to register their interest in the project by contacting

ANMS ISPO are proud to share this announcement with the broader membership and look forward to sharing results at project fruition.

Adj Prof Laurent Frossard, Science and Research committee chair, at

From left: Dr Emily Ridgewell, Leigh Clarke , Dr Sarah Anderson and Prof Michael Dillon.