Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Medicare Byways: The DME Ordering Provider Database

Medicare provides a range of cloud-based provider utilization data via a home page here

In my work, I frequently use the national physician and lab database organized by CPT billing codes.  For example, you can look up your own family physician, see his name, address, and NPI, and see every CPT code that Medicare paid him for (1,000 office visits, 500 chest x-rays, 200 urinalyses, etc).   Here.   (You click through to a cloud database view, where the key tabs to play with are FILTER (e.g. by a HCPCS code) and EXPORT (e.g. to Excel).)

That database doesn't include DME suppliers.

DME Ordering Physicians

However, you can get into a database for "referring DME providers."  Here

This database logs every physician who has ordered a DME item, which item, and how many.   (DME seems to be an area with regular fraud stories, e.g. here.)

While DME has long been a somewhat sleepy field, innovation is picking up as more and more innovators are taking traditional DME devices (orthotic braces, scales, sleep apnea air pumps) and making them cloud-enabled - the internet of medical things IoMT or here, IoDME. 

So, for example, you can look up the name and address of every doc who ordered a sleep apnea air pump in CY2016.   (2017 data will be released around May 2019).

Example L1833

For example, a question came in about orthotic knee braces.  These include L1833 (and a dizzying range of other orthotics codes). 

CMS tells us that about 777 physicians or other professionals order about 49,531 of these in CY2016.   Five doctors ordered over 1000 units each, totalling 14% of all US orders.   (Full identifying info available at CMS; the docs were in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, California, and Minnesota, for example).   You could take those 5 doctors, from the DME ordering database, and look them each up by his NPI number in the physician services database and see what services they were providing for Medicare patients. 

Orthotics Policy for Summer Beach Reading

There's also a 75-page online policy (including many pages of ICD-10 codes) for when and how these orthotic devices can be ordered - here.   Who knew?