This year marks the fifth anniversary of a Board of Certification/Accreditation (BOC)-created certification that edifies the durable medical equipment (DME) industry—the Certified DME Specialist (CDME).
Since its beginning, the credential has grown as the profession has expanded and more medical equipment is purchased and utilized in patients’ homes.
For DME suppliers, having one or more CDMEs on staff helps meet compliance standards for accreditation.
For professionals, the certification is a way to demonstrate their broad knowledge of DME. When the CDME credential appears after a name, this can help assure both employers and patients that the CDME has been trained and held to the highest standard. An individual with a CDME certification on their resume makes it easy for employers to identify and select applicants with a demonstrated commitment to the field.
Qualifications and Compliance Standards
A CDME is qualified to handle basic repairs, troubleshooting and home inspections for DME products such as oxygen, transfer systems, enteral supplies and wound care. Medicare’s human resources management standards require technical personnel to be knowledgeable, competent and trained to deliver products—the CDME meets these standards and helps provide consumers with a sense of confidence.
Safe practices within the specialty offer additional assurance of compliance for DME suppliers. A CDME fills the need for competent technical and professional personnel and spreading the word about the CDME on staff can be an excellent marketing tool.
Suppliers can promote that they have certified professionals who provide specialized assistance to patients, and certificants have the comprehensive knowledge to fully explain the products that are delivered. CDMEs are trained to educate patients about how to use the life-changing equipment they are receiving.
The CDME exam was created five years ago with the goal of accessibility; a candidate may be either deeply experienced or new to the DME field, so the exam assesses entry-level competency and knowledge of the business. No preparatory class is required, although many feel more prepared for the exam after first completing prep work.
During the past five years, the CDME certification has experienced annual growth, averaging an increase in applicants of 50 percent per year.
Ongoing learning is essential to keep up with the latest technology and process improvements in the DME field. Certificants can continue their professional development. CDME professionals demonstrate their commitment to career growth by earning continuing education credits (CEUs). BOC streamlines the process of meeting these requirements by listing learning opportunities online and providing a personal web portal for certificants to track CEUs and deadlines.
BOC’s foundation as a credentialing organization offering both certification and accreditation helps drive the standards set for health care facilities and individual professionals. As an extension of the organization’s experience as a CMS-deemed accreditor, BOC sought to add value for accredited DME suppliers by helping them gain a competitive edge. Under the leadership of BOC’s president and CEO Claudia Zacharias, MBA, CAE and former Director of Certification Jan paul Miller, M.A., M.Ed., experts outlined the vision for a certification to recognize the unique competencies needed in the DME field.
After surveying key stakeholders to gauge interest, BOC conducted an intensive job task analysis to define the typical tasks the new certificant would perform and to better understand how standards might establish best practices and minimize safety risks. Subsequently, an exam was written by experts in the DME field.
Why CDMEs Practice
Today, BOC CDMEs are represented in 92 percent of states and territories across the United States. The majority of CDME professionals practice in the states of California, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Texas. Internationally, certificants reside in many unique places, including Bermuda.
One of the first CDME certificants, Jenny Schell, continues to enjoy the benefits of her certification. She expressed her appreciation for BOC offering DMEPOS accreditation, pharmacy accreditation and CDME certification, explaining, “They all work well together because you’re getting the information, getting certified and showing clients you’re credible.”
She also recommends capitalizing on BOC’s CDME course before the exam. “It’s great study preparation and incredibly thorough and informative. I’d sit in on one of those again as a refresher.”
The data from the past five years show individuals pursue CDME certification at all stages in life. Certificants’ ages range from professionals in their 20s and through their 70s. While 20 percent of certificants have been CDME certified for the entire five years the certification has been available, the credential continues to draw new applicants who seek career evolution.
In an expanding field, BOC is a resource with strong roots in connecting the desire for certification with quality assurance for patients. One of BOC’s accredited DME suppliers, Comfort Care Medical Equipment, is a shining example of a facility providing an additional benefit to patients by employing a CDME.
“I am proud to not only advance in my career thanks to BOC, but to have a direct hand in assisting our patients in using life-changing medical equipment,” said Kristin Hassed, CDME. “We are proud to be a trusted, credible resource and make a direct impact on our patients’ quality of life.”
BOC helps applicants every step of the way and provides an easy-to-understand certification process. To learn more about this credential, visit bocusa.org/cdme or attend an upcoming workshops. BOC will be offering the CDME course and exam at Medtrade Spring in Las Vegas, Nevada this March, as well as workshops in Houston, Texas and Owings Mills, Maryland, later this spring. For more information and to register, visit bocusa.org/events.