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Should Independent Pharmacies Offer Durable Medical Equipment?

May 12, 2020

As more patients nationwide suffer from conditions like cancer and cardiac disorders and also look to manage care at home, the need for at-home "DME", or Durable Medical Equipment, continues to rise. According to a study by Grand View Research, the market for Durable Medical Equipment was worth nearly $42 billion in 2016 and is expected to continue to grow. Independent pharmacies have a tremendous opportunity to create an additional profit center by offering Durable Medical Products to customers within their pharmacies. At Datascan, we constantly urge independent pharmacy owners to seek out non-PBM-centric revenue sources and build other streams of revenue into their business. Whether you’re considering Part B contracts or looking to merely sell DME without contracting, there is an undeniable demand for these types of products.

Many patients who are managing chronic conditions or rehabilitating after a surgery or injury need more than just prescriptions. The likelihood is if your patient is already filling prescriptions with your pharmacy, they’ll look to you for their non-prescription needs as well. Pharmacy patients rehabbing at home require much of the same equipment a typical facility uses. Products to assist those with limited mobility like walkers, canes, and wheelchairs are useful both in the home and while getting around outside. Patients may require toileting DME products like commodes or bed pans if they’re bed-bound, in addition to personal care products. Let’s also not forget about our senior patients who may suffer from limited mobility and can benefit from a variety of Durable Medical Equipment products as well. Providing DME products in your independent pharmacy also allows your pharmacists and staff to be much more involved and proactive in overall patient health and well-being.  As we all know by now, PBMs are forever ranking performance and looking for new ways to dig into your pharmacy's profits. If we can better manage our patients’ overall health, we’ll essentially see better outcomes and eventually fewer claw backs.

For many pharmacies, the headaches of billing Durable Medical Equipment is not worth the time; and so they are opting to offer DME as a service for self-pay customers. Contracting with insurance companies to be able to accept and bill DME products is a lengthy process that does not always result in optimal reimbursements. Often times, DME claims are captured and later evaluated for actual pharmacy reimbursement. Many pharmacy owners find themselves underpaid or unpaid for items they thought were reimbursable. Because of these challenges, many pharmacies have opted not to offer Durable Medical Equipment at all. A large percentage of patients are paying out of pocket for items or handling insurance reimbursement themselves. Providing patients with DME products can still be a very profitable opportunity for community pharmacies.

Managing inventory is an important aspect of successfully selling Durable Medical Equipment in your pharmacy. Using the reporting and inventory tools within your Datascan Pharmacy Software and POS will help. Since many local, independent pharmacies struggle with space, stocking large-sized DME items is sometimes not practical. Datascan Point of Sale allows pharmacies to set inventory thresholds and even order directly through EDI with their wholesalers right out of the POS system. While stocking smaller items like canes, camwalkers, and incontinence DME products may be more practical, there still needs to be proper inventory management. Tracking purchase history and trends through the POS reporting can be incredibly helpful in determining proper inventory points for these types of items. In addition to inventory reports, Datascan's Point of Sale also tracks patients and customers so you can keep record of which customers purchased certain products. Customer-specific data is useful when it comes time to special ordering items and supplies.

Certain DME products such as hospital-style medical beds or wheelchairs can be offered for rent to patients, and Datascan’s Point of Sale system has a built-in module to help you manage those rentals. Whether it’s daily, weekly, monthly, or any other time period, the system can help set up those rentals and the billing associated with them, as well as help you easily track who has all of these items.

Venturing out and making changes to your pharmacy business can be overwhelming — we get it! The days of prescription profits being enough to sustain a successful independent pharmacy have fallen by the wayside and we need to rely more and more on non-PBM-centric profit centers. Offering Durable Medical Equipment has proven successful for many independent pharmacies as the demand for home health equipment is on the rise. This is an ever-increasing market and with the help of the right Pharmacy Management Software, one that independent pharmacy owners can find huge profits in.

 

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