Medical repayments, whether from private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid continues to shrink. Medical professionals are continually looking for ways to increase their revenue. There are several ways to increase revenue without extending your hours, opening on weekends, or any other more stressful ways. One way many physicians and clinics are exploring is being a direct provider to their patients for durable medical equipment.
Durable Medical Equipment
Durable medical equipment is one way to boost your revenue without sacrificing quality for your patients. Medical equipment that patients can purchase directly through the physician can include ultrasound machines, pulmonary functioning testing, and non-invasive pain treatment equipment. These are only a few of the available medical devices.
Durable medical equipment can be expensive, both as up-front costs for your business, but a valuable source for your patients.
The Federal Laws
The law allows medical providers to directly dispense medical equipment to their patients. In fact, studies show that it may even be beneficial for patients to obtain their equipment from their doctor. This way the doctor ensures the quality of the equipment and verifies that the patient receives the brand they deserve.
There are two federal laws that deal directly with the dispensing of durable medical equipment that every office needs to know before beginning on this road. The first is the Medicare/Medicaid Kickback Act, which deals with being paid for referrals. The second is the Stark Act. This act makes it illegal to refer a Medicare of Medicaid patient for particular issues to another doctor or clinic for professional services if you have a financial relationship with that clinic. This includes referrals for medical equipment.
And the federal government is serious about the laws. A violation of the Stark Act can result in thousands of dollars per patient for a referral and up to a $100,000 fine. You can also be barred from being considered a participant in federal programs.
If you are considering using medical equipment to boost your revenue, hire someone who specializes in federal health care law to advise you if you have any questions at all. It may be one expense that will save you huge in the long run. No one wants to break the law dealing with the government that can put your entire practice in jeopardy.
One thing to consider is the up-front cost of purchasing the equipment to provide to your patients. Not everyone is set up to provide this service and developing a sound business plan for this is necessary. This is similar to the business plan you developed when you first opened your practice.
The keys to boosting the revenue for your office are making sure correct billing codes are being used and following through in accounting to make sure payments are received. This may take some further investment in the training of medical staff and even possibly upgrading computer software to track the purchases, payments, and receipt of money.
All in all, providing medical device equipment to patients can be a new source of funds. But in providing that equipment, comes the responsibility of ensuring that all federal laws, regulations, and rules are followed. You want this to be a great revenue source, and also a great experience for your patients. In the end it’s a win, win situation.
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Written by John Gladstein. John is passionate about lowering the cost of healthcare for medical professionals.