HME News TV: The 'clean handoff': What you need to get what you deserve

Sunday, October 30, 2011

YARMOUTH, Maine - Providers need to make sure repair techs and employees who process Medicare claims are on the same page if they want the reimbursement they're entitled to.

Consultant Dick Fuller told HME News TV recently that the old days of doing repairs without thinking about it are over.

"We have been so ingrained to just go out and fix it," he said. "We need to continue to do that, but at the same time, let's make sure that we're capturing what we truly do."

In January, CMS eliminated the first-month purchase option for standard power wheelchairs. To compensate for the loss of that upfront reimbursement, providers should be meticulous about their repair billing process, he said.

"The game has changed," he said. "The profit margins have shrunk and we need to revisit how we do our repairs, and, more importantly, making sure we bill all that we do when we do those repairs."

Fuller said repair techs almost speak their own language; the trick to making sure every part of repair work is billed correctly is making sure they convey what they did in a clear manner.

"The key thing I see is a 'clean handoff,'" said Fuller. "(What repair techs say) doesn't always make sense to those people at the company that prepare the claim for getting reimbursed."

The first step in that clean handoff is to make sure the repair techs record all the work they do, he said.

That means documenting how the seating system had to be removed and then replaced to change a battery, for example, rather than simply stating that the tech changed out the battery.

The next step is to make sure all of that translates onto paper.

 "As long as the hand-off was done in a clean, understandable way--that makes a huge difference in what we get paid," said Fuller.