O&P, DME and DMEPOS
Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics and Supplies (DMEPOS) is an acronym established by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to refer to a wide range of products meeting diverse health care needs. DMEPOS is categorized into two sections: “orthotics & prosthetics” (O&P) and “durable medical equipment” (DME).
Separating O&P from DME
O&P and DME are frequently lumped together and used interchangeably since both involve supplying devices; however, they are distinct categories of care, and laws may treat them differently.
Orthotics (leg, arm, back and neck braces) and prosthetics (artificial legs, arms and eyes) often require specialized education and clinical skills to fit the device to the patient. There is a labor services component associated with O&P in addition to the cost of the product itself. DME refers mainly to mobility devices like wheelchairs, walker, canes and crutches, and some home-use devices like oxygen therapy. Supplies are usually disposable and cannot withstand repeated use by more than one individual. Examples include diabetic supplies, bandages and test strips.
The confusion with DME is a major underlying problem for orthotics in legislation and reimbursement. Care should be taken to distinguish between the two. For the purposes of this whitepaper, we refer to “orthotics & DME” in order to keep the terms distinct.