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Behind the Scenes: Understanding the Dynamics of Assistive Technology Prescriber and Supplier

By Hannah Long

There are a number of stakeholders involved in the prescription of a piece of assistive technology, with the most important being the user of the equipment themselves. Facilitating a successful working relationship between the supplier and the prescriber of the equipment can only assist in a streamline process for the person to have access to the equipment that meets their needs as soon as possible.

What can be done to ensure this relationship can be the most successful?

Firstly, it’s important to acknowledge the roles of the prescriber and supplier.

The supplier is the product expert and brings a wealth of knowledge around what the equipment can and can’t do, exact specifications and how it can be customised to suit the users needs. The prescriber’s role is to know the person, their goals, the features required, any specific postural, pressure care or functional need that may impact equipment choice; ultimately what the piece of AT needs to support them to achieve.

Clearly communicating these requirements to the supplier pre-trial, along with photos (with consent) can really assist the supplier in being able to pick and choose the right piece of equipment to bring for initial trial, which therefore sets us up for a successful appointment.

As a prescriber, it’s okay if you are unsure as to the exact requirements of the prescription for the person. The ideal pathway for support in these situations is not the supplier of the equipment themselves (remembering roles), but instead access to clinical supervision or peer mentoring to be able to discuss and unpack requirements to support clinical reasoning and development .

Strategies for successful equipment trials

When scheduling an initial equipment trial, capacity building with the user and their support network as to how the appointment might go, duration, requirement to potentially sit while specific adjustments to equipment is made (eg. lateral supports) or even a need for multiple transfers. Clear communication is vital and important in managing expectations of what an equipment trial could look like. Lastly we need to be realistic with the time this can take, ensuring the therapist also allows sufficient time to complete the trial to reduce additional appointments and back and forth.

Letting the supplier know if the user would benefit from an extended trial (a few days for example), so they can be prepared to reserve the equipment for that person in advance and therefore not run into logistical issues of scheduling trial equipment. Acknowledging most suppliers share trial equipment between various equipment specialists, so a heads up that equipment may need to be left with the user for extended trial can assist in planning and potentially avoid the need to arrange multiple appointments, which benefits all involved.

We suggest trialling a piece of equipment in the closest configuration as possible to the final product, however acknowledging as the increasingly custom the prescription becomes, it is not always possible for the supplier to have access to very specific accessories or features to trial, and trying to access them without guarantee may lead to lengthy delays. Flexibility and compromise are key, and when it’s not possible to trial every aspect of a prescription with the user, we rely on clinical reasoning to inform decision making.


As we all work together to support an AT user obtain and maintain the right piece of equipment for them to support goal achievement, successful working relationships between suppliers and prescribers can lead to better outcomes for all. This can include reduced wait times for appointments and thus access to equipment, as well as prompt follow up support which will reduce the likelihood of AT abandonment and promote longevity of success.

About the author

Hannah Long is the Assistive Technology Clinical Excellence Lead at KEO Care. Hannah has been a physiotherapist for over ten years with experience in multiple settings across Melbourne and interstate. Hannah enjoys working in the community as she feel it’s where she can make the greatest positive impact on people’s lives. Hannah has a passion for all things assistive technology, with experience at both the prescriber and supplier level of equipment prescription. Hannah enjoys collaborating with people to embed successful assistive technology solutions to support them achieve their individual goals.