The Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities has been committed to increasing the use of supportive technology for people with developmental disabilities throughout the years. The department began these efforts in 2012, when the state began to fund technology that would provide telepsychiatry videoconferencing for people with developmental disabilities who had a co-occurring mental health diagnosis and lived in remote areas without access to behavioral health care.
By 2013, the department furthered its commitment when Ohio became one of the first states in the nation to get approval from the federal government to add technology to its Home and Community-Based Services waivers. At that time, the changes made to the department’s waiver program focused on remote support technology with the hope that the additions would help address the growing direct service provider staffing crisis. Later, the department came to understand that this type of technology was critical in helping improve the independence of people with developmental disabilities.
In May 2018, the Technology First Executive Order, 2018-06K was signed, making Ohio the first Technology First state in the country which emphasizes the expansion of access to technology for people with developmental disabilities.
Supportive technology allows people with developmental disabilities to experience more independence by providing personalized support for daily tasks or by offering care at a distance. Supportive technology encompasses two distinct Medicaid services in Ohio: Assistive Technology and Remote Support.
Assistive Technology is a Medicaid service described in rule 5123-9-12 of the Ohio Administrative Code. This service enables people to use smart or electronic devices to increase independence and reduce reliance on paid caregivers to help with a person’s needs. Examples include using safety sensors that turn off stoves or monitor water temperature, devices that remind people of appointments or medication times, and applications on tablets or cellphones that a person already owns.
This service pays for consultation to make sure people are matched with the right technology to meet their needs, the appropriate equipment, and equipment training for the person as well as for their paid or unpaid caregiver. Assistive Technology is available for people using Individual Options, Level One, and SELF waivers.
Remote Support, formerly known as Remote Monitoring, is a Medicaid service described in rule 5123-9-35 of the Ohio Administrative Code. It is a model that combines technology and direct care to support people with developmental disabilities. Remote Support uses two-way communication in real time, including home-based sensors, cameras, and other technologies, to allow an off-site caregiver to monitor and respond to the safety needs of people living in the community. When hands-on care is not required, Remote Support makes it possible for direct care staff to provide care from a remote location, supporting a person’s need for greater independence while reducing cost.
Remote Support may be used with either paid or unpaid backup support. Paid backup support is when a paid caregiver responds to a person receiving Remote Support who needs on-site assistance, or the equipment stops working for any reason. When backup support is provided on a paid basis by an agency provider, the agency provider is the primary point of contact for the remote vendor. Unpaid backup support may be provided by a family member, friend, or someone who the person with disabilities chooses.
All Medicaid waivers cover the cost and maintenance of equipment used for Remote Support delivery. This service is always combined with Assistive Technology and is available for people using Individual Options, Level One, and SELF Waivers.
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July 16, 2021
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