How To Integrate DME Into Treatment Protocols

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Secrets To Effective Inventory Management Of DME

Busy podiatry practices must make efficient use of the office space available in order to manage DME inventory.

   Select products that offer an opportunity to be used for multiple conditions. Depending on the frequency of need and space allowance, consider products that one can use on the left and right foot, and that require fewer sizes. For less common conditions, establish a protocol for items to be used and the vendor that will provide the products.

   The goal of maintaining inventory is to have on hand those items that are part of the treatment protocols, in sufficient quantity and sizes, given the physical confines of the available space. The practice should maintain a certain minimum quantity of products on hand, taking into consideration the rate at which they are used and the time for delivery. If the practice consistently runs out of products before the designated reorder time, increase the minimum quantity.

   The medical assistants and physician should periodically review how well the devices are working, how much patients like them and what they can do to improve application. Consider new products, different products as recommended by others and products presented at conferences.

   It is essential to designate a person in the practice who is responsible for organizing storage areas and determining maximum and minimum quantities for all products in all sizes.

   Create a designated frequency and day when the ordering person checks inventory and orders as appropriate. The practice manager should periodically review quantities of products in stock and prices paid. Ordering can be easier via the use of customized screens on the given distributor’s website. Distributors can also help practitioners to order in a timely fashion by sending customized order forms that indicate the quantity of products to keep on hand and the price paid.

By Josh White, DPM, CPed

   It is essential that medical staff members receive training and stay up to date with educational materials and tools for each protocol. As the saying goes, “If you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it.” There must be mechanisms in place to determine if the staff is performing the desired procedures and mechanisms should be in place to ensure that this is the case. Determine the time, personnel and materials necessary for each approach.

   4. Learn from everyday care. Continually monitor the results of the practice’s approach and integrate the lessons learned from cases when the standardized approach is not successful.

   The structure and processes of the clinic must allow learning from the everyday work. The people designing the practice protocols must learn from every member performing the various tasks. The people designing the protocols must understand the demands for every service as well as how one performs the task. Such an approach will enable allocation of resources to best meet expected demand. Office managers should do ongoing reviews of charts to ensure that the practice is following treatment protocols and documentation is in order.

Incorporating DME Into Treatment Protocols: Can This Transform Your Practice?

While streamlining care is designed to improve patient outcomes and reduce overall health care costs, there is also an opportunity to increase practice revenue. Incorporating durable medical equipment (DME) into our treatment protocols for conditions of biomechanical etiology requiring stabilization may be beneficial in several respects.

   Durable medical equipment provides readily available modalities when the patient presents. Utilizing DME enables you to get immediate patient feedback on the comfort and benefits of the given modality. Additionally, the availability and demonstration of DME products in the office can help facilitate both patient adherence and patient satisfaction.

   One of the fundamental concepts for integration of DME into practice is to identify the frequency of the most common podiatric biomechanical diagnoses you see in practice. These are the conditions that offer the greatest benefit of integrating a streamlined approach to care. If you recommend a prefabricated ankle-foot orthotic (AFO) as a part of the treatment protocol, there should be a direct correlation between the incidence of the condition and the number of DME items dispensed.

   After identifying the most common diagnoses you see, determine the DME items to use with each. Create treatment protocols for each visit and vary these by severity. Create protocols for follow-up visits depending on how well the condition is improving.

   The DME recommendations should be based on the concept of providing items that are therapeutically appropriate and the least expensive. Recognize that some conditions are best treated by an orthotist who has more experience in the range of customized orthoses and related products.

   There are a number of factors to consider when selecting DME products. For ease of ordering, seek out products from as few distributors as possible in order to obtain the best pricing and streamline ordering and bill paying. Look for distributors to match manufacturer direct pricing.

   Favor products from companies that support podiatry through the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), American Academy of Podiatric Practice Management (AAPPM), American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine (AAPSM) and young practitioners associations. Work with distributors that offer ready technical assistance.

Maximizing Efficiency With DME Protocols

For every patient, the front office should determine, in advance of the doctor seeing the patient, if the insurance plan covers DME and whether the podiatrist is allowed to provide the specific DME product. If the plan includes coverage and the podiatrist can dispense it, determine whether the plan has an annual deductible or lifetime coverage amount. If the patient has coverage and the podiatrist is not allowed to dispense the product, the patient needs a referral.

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