Face-to-face rule: Step into doc's shoes

Q. What does the face-to-face rule mean for doctors?
Friday, May 23, 2014

A. DME companies need the face-to-face paperwork required by Medicare, and physicians, for whatever reason, have trouble providing it. The push and pull over accurate and complete paperwork documenting medical necessity has always created an issue. 

In business it is important to understand where another person is coming from to more efficiently work with them. Physicians do not want to have discussions about the importance of complete and accurate paperwork any more than DME representatives do. However, it is the DME providers who typically bear the financial burden. The face-to-face rule enforcement and subsequent physician education has made for some unhappy physicians. Let’s walk in their shoes.

You go to college for four years, attend med school for four more years then add three to seven more years of fellowships, residencies and specialty training. After 10-plus years of education, you are asked to detail patient information by a DME provider, who has little or no scientific background, so that they can tell you if your prescription is correct or not. 

Letting physicians know that you understand their plight can go a long way. Explain that you are not trying to do their job, you are simply trying to obtain the medical justification for DME in the correct narrative format. Face-to-face documentation collection tools exist to assist physicians in providing complete paperwork faster, not to replace their knowledge. 

Until CMS holds physicians directly accountable for incomplete paperwork, DME providers will continue to play the uncomfortable role of messenger. Show physicians a solution that will streamline their knowledge, ensure all information is documented, and produce the narrative outputs CMS wants.

Michael Blakey is president of DMEevalumate.com. Reach him at 800-986-9368 or mike@dmeevalumate.com.


MIke, I find it a little unfortunate that you perpetuate the notion that doctors are smarter, more educated, and more important than those in the DME space. Physicians have an obligation (at least according to medicare) to provide the necessary documentation. It's part of the fees paid to them for treating the patient. We dont need to apologize or act subservient to the physician. We are both critical partners in the role of supporting and treating the patient. Any assertion to the contary is perpetuating the master/servant role many DME's like to fall into. Our referring physicians treat us like knowledgable healthcare partners who can provide a valuable service and help them execute a plan of care.