Table of Contents
- What Is DME (Durable Medical Equipment)?
- Can a Chiropractor Prescribe DME?
- Why Is DME Helpful To You As The Chiropractor and To Your Practice?
- Benefits Of Using DME In Your Chiropractic Practice
- Marketing DME and Your Services Together – How To Get Patients In The Door
- How Do You Apply DME For Best Compensation and Use Compliance?
- Stock Product or Special Order – How Should You Purchase Your DME?
- Final Thoughts
If you look at a patient and just know they need a little bit more help, you’ve probably looked into durable medical equipment or DME.
A back brace, orthotics, even posture support can all give your patients that one step up to better health and a pain-free life.
It can also increase your revenue and relevance to the community by incorporating some simple steps.
What Is DME (Durable Medical Equipment)?
Durable medical equipment – the type that provides medical benefits for your patients.
These are the things that help reduce pain, correct medical conditions, or even relieve illnesses.
Of course, while it can be sometimes difficult to get your patients to keep to long-term stretching and exercise routines, using DME can increase patient compliance, helping them to take part in their health and wellness efforts.
It gives patients a sense of responsibility for their healthcare, which is why they came to you in the first place.
This increases patients retention and improves the outcome.
Fortunately, the chiropractic industry is leading at the front for DME.
Examples of Chiropractic DME
- Support Braces: knee, back, neck, wrist, ankle, etc.
- TENS/Ultrasound Units
- Cervical Traction Devices
- Walking Aids: canes, crutches, walkers, etc.
- Mattresses And Pillows
- Home Use Aids: shower seats, stair aids, etc.
Posture braces are among the most popular devices used across the chiropractic field, particularly those under 40.
These braces can help keep a patient’s shoulders back, improving posture and lower back pain.
Can a Chiropractor Prescribe DME?
First, the scope of practice and regulations a chiropractor has to follow changes on a state-to-state basis.
You should check your local guidelines and regulations before implementing DME.
The Council on Chiropractic Guidelines and Practice Parameters (formerly known as the CCGPP, but now referred to as the “Clinical Compass”), formed in 1995, and the CCGPP examines all existing guidelines, parameters, protocols, and best practices in the United States and other nations to create an equitable chiropractic practice document.
According to the CCGPP, there is a distinction between best practices and guidelines.
The working definition of best practices and process, according to the CCGPP…
“Incorporates not only the most current explicit evidence-based practices but also allows for filling the holes where the data is conflicting or absent by adopting formal consensus conclusions. Best practices are the most contemporary approach and employed by other health care professions as well as those in many other non-health areas.”
Medical or Clinical Treatment Guidelines, on the other hand…
“Are a more narrow interpretation of existing information, often used to formulate so-called ‘stop-care points,’ and can be frequently arbitrary, with little available information to support most guidelines or may be subject to variable interpretation, depending on the reviewer.”
These treatment guidelines differ by types of insurance, by state, and by local community.
That’s why it’s essential to keep abreast of your local guidelines and the medical community in general.
You will need specific licensure and accreditation for prescribing these tools, and your local association will have this information.
Also, it will be helpful to be aware of Medicare’s guidelines and familiarize yourself with Stark Laws regarding self-referrals, which may also affect your practice.
Why Is DME Helpful To You As The Chiropractor and To Your Practice?
More people expect to be a part of their treatment process and expect something physical to take home with them.
DME help fulfill both of those societal expectations.
Fortunately, those expectations can coincide with best practices for patient health.
Because DME increases patient compliance, using one or more of these aids increases the treatment success rate.
As more insurance companies move towards the quality of care-based payments, any tool used to improve patient compliance increases the quality of care.
DME increases patient retention rates, as well.
With more reoccurring visits, you increase the success rate of the treatment and establish a habit of your patients coming to you for a higher quality of care.
Patients feel more supported during the treatment process, having a physical reminder of that service and the results.
They use the devices more and follow proper guidelines.
And with higher patient compliance, long-term problems can be eliminated or corrected using proper care.
The actual figures of the number of chiropractors using DME vary state to state, mostly matching the regulations.
Most, if not all, states have no restrictions for chiropractors prescribing DME.
This number can change significantly based on insurance, as well.
Auto insurance, health insurance, and self-pay each has regulations for using DME.
Where the auto industry might be an area where DME is used more frequently, people who use cash pay tend to be most open towards utilizing a tool to help maintain their health.
However, self-pay comes with the limitation of possibly not affording the procedure.
For example, neck pain is one of the most common symptoms people seek chiropractic care for.
Using a posture brace, orthopedic pillow, and proper orthotics can make a significant difference in life.
Insurance coverage will dictate a significant portion of users.
Benefits Of Using DME In Your Chiropractic Practice
Your success working with referral partners and insurance companies comes from your treatment outcomes.
And your outcomes are dictated by patient compliance.
DME increases patient compliance.
Using DME appropriately can boost your reputation with doctors and insurance companies and improve word-of-mouth referral services.
Perception of treatment is just as important as the actual treatment.
If a patient believes a particular tool is aiding their treatment and provides good results, using them more often should be promoted.
If they think you care, they’ll return for more service and follow the recommendations better.
DME provides a great ROI.
Larger devices, such as back braces and full supports, can offer hundreds to thousands of dollars of revenue or more into your practice for each device.
Marketing DME and Your Services Together – How To Get Patients In The Door
If you have a full and thriving practice, introducing DME is easy.
However, this is sometimes not the case.
Fortunately, whether you are seeing a thousand patient visits a week or just getting started, there are many ways to begin to market your services.
Internally, communicate with your current patients about the new service you’re offering.
This could be something as simple as an electronic newsletter or a physical mailing.
Send to any doctors you get referrals from explaining your new service and the way they can increase healing time for your patience.
If you may be one of the first in the area to use these products, offering seminars, talks, or education can expose you to thousands of new potential patients and place you at the forefront of chiropractic care for your area.
How Do You Apply DME For Best Compensation and Use Compliance?
Billing and insurance collection is complicated.
You have several different options available, including auto, workers comp, and private insurance, as well as Medicare/Medicaid and self-pay.
Doing your due diligence to check for coverage may be more important than assigning a DME product to a patient.
Be sure that you get the proper information from your patients and double-check the DME’s coverage, as well as having a letter of medical necessity (in most states) before prescribing the item.
You also have to talk to your patient about their financial responsibilities, such as co-pays and replacement costs.
Then once you verify the cost and insurance payments, you need to verify the codes used to get that payment.
For example, spinal stabilization may not cover orthotics, even if it is the best route for correcting the problem.
Cash pay is more straightforward, as your patients will directly pay for their DME.
However, that can be financially unobtainable for some people.
Payment plans and reduced costs may help.
Additionally, encourage your patients to use their health savings account, employer matching programs, insurance kickbacks, and government-sponsored programs to obtain the devices they need.
Stock Product or Special Order – How Should You Purchase Your DME?
One thing is obvious…
You’re not a store.
However, while most of the DME you offer does not need to be custom-made, it is helpful to manage your inventory in the office or an online management system.
But does that mean you need to have a supply on hand?
Some simpler things, like posture supports, orthopedic pillows, and generic supports, might be kept on hand, especially if the patient wants to see it before purchase.
For example, orthopedic pillows work wonders for people with upper back and neck problems.
But, many people hesitate to buy them online.
Having a few on hand can let your patients try the pillow and purchase it on the spot.
Keeping intermediary products, such as custom orthotics and back braces, on hand can help reduce anxiety regarding high ticket purchases.
Your patients can get a feel of the product, lowering resistance for patient usage.
If you’re thinking about including durable medical equipment in your practice, it can be a great way to increase revenue and outcome.
Most chiropractors find their patient compliance and treatment outcomes both improve using DME.
It’s a boon for revenue, as many DME generate several hundred to thousands of dollars for each device.
With the proper authorization, most insurance companies cover it easily.
This is the next step in chiropractic care.
Current trends show chiropractic centers incorporate different modalities, such as massage, acupuncture, supplements, and DME.
Having well-rounded services increases income, patient satisfaction, and therapeutic results.
This is one step in becoming a top resource for your patience and keeping your practice profitable and relevant to the population.