Show them what you can do
by Matt Gruskin

Earning accreditation continues to be a critical way for durable medical equipment (DME) suppliers to demonstrate commitment to meeting national standards for competence, professionalism and safety. However, as the competitive landscape continues to heat up for employers, it’s important to consider implementing new professional development opportunities for staff, such as certification, to attract and maintain talent. Let’s explore the benefits of DME accreditation and certification and why you should consider both for your business.

Why Earn Accreditation?

Accreditation is good for your business and your customers. Accreditation enables DME suppliers to demonstrate that their business is following the regulatory requirements issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Earning accreditation is required before a facility can receive reimbursements from Medicare and other insurance carriers, including many third-party payers, so it also positively impacts your ability to earn revenue. Earning accreditation from a CMS-deemed accrediting organization (AO) ultimately ensures that your business is prepared to deliver DME supplies and drive positive health outcomes for patients.

Additionally, accreditation adds another layer of assurance for physicians, government agencies or representatives, health care associations and the public at large of your company’s competence and professionalism and the safe practice your business maintains.

Why Implement a Company-Wide Certification Program?

Although many individuals opt to pursue certification on their own to bolster their résumés, some businesses are now implementing certification programs for staff as an employee benefit and an investment in their team’s success. This practice makes good business sense, as certification benefits both employees and employers.

A professional certification is issued by a credentialing body and is considered a mark of an individual’s credible and competent practice within their field. For the DME profession, the most pertinent certification is the certified durable medical equipment specialist (CDME). A CDME is qualified to handle basic repairs, troubleshooting and home inspections for DME products such as oxygen, transfer systems, enteral supplies, mobility chairs and more.

For individuals, this certification is a way to demonstrate their broad knowledge of the DME industry. When the “CDME” credential appears after a name, it assures both employers and patients that the person has the knowledge and technical skills required to do their job. An individual with a CDME certification on their résumé also makes it easy for employers to identify and select applicants who have a demonstrated commitment to the field.

For DME suppliers, having one or more CDMEs on staff helps meet compliance standards for accreditation—and it’s a sound business decision. A CDME fills the need for competent technical and professional personnel. It can also be an excellent marketing tool to differentiate one business from another. 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 equipment they receive.

The CDME exam was created 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 by first completing prep work.

How Do You Pursue Accreditation & Company-Wide Certification?

Selecting a credentialing organization that offers options for accreditation and certification is an excellent way to create a seamless experience for your business and employees.

As you evaluate your options, be sure to select the one that is the best match for your organization’s unique needs. For instance, a new business may be best served by an AO that will take the time to explain the details of the accreditation process in a way that makes sense to you. An AO should be accessible and responsive to your questions and able to schedule your site survey in a timely fashion so as not to delay your ability to receive payments. Meanwhile, established suppliers may consider switching to an AO that supports their business throughout the entire accreditation cycle, provides regulatory updates and helps ensure ongoing compliance.

An accrediting organization can also design a process tailored to fit the needs of the business and employees, whether that’s implementing a certification for multiple team members or hosting a CDME workshop in person or virtually to help your employees prepare for the exam.

To be eligible to take the CDME certification exam, an applicant must have a high school diploma or equivalent. An eligible candidate will have a verifiable minimum of 500 hours (approximately 13 weeks of full-time work) of documented experience at a DME facility. Flexible options are available for scheduling exams. For example, a supplier may prefer team members to schedule live, online remote-proctored exams, which allows them to test their knowledge and skills in an environment most comfortable to them, such as their home or office.

Because the field is dynamic and evolving, ongoing learning is essential to keeping up with the latest technology and process improvements in the profession. CDME professionals demonstrate their commitment to career growth by earning continuing education credits, which are evaluated during five-year cycles.

Matt Gruskin, MBA, BOCO, BOCPD, CDME, is chief operating officer for the Board of Certification/Accreditation, or BOC, the first credentialing organization to offer the CDME certification. Gruskin is responsible for leading the direction, strategy, policies and day-to-day operations of BOC’s accreditation and certification programs. He holds an MBA in health care from Florida International University, a graduate degree in prosthetics and orthotics from the University of Hartford, and post-graduate certification from the International School of Pedorthics. To learn more about BOC’s CDME program, visit bocusa.org/cdma.