Durable Medical Equipment (DME) – a medically necessary device that you can use over and over – is prescribed to injured worker patients who have an injury or disability. Commonly prescribed DME items in workers’ compensation include Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) devices, thermal compression devices, and reusable electrodes.
The market for DME is increasing due to rising product demand. This demand is driven by increasing penetration of home healthcare services, high occurrence of chronic conditions, and the growing elderly population. The DME market was valued at $59.7 billion in 2022, with an expected compound annual growth rate of 5.7% from 2023 to 2030. In workers’ compensation specifically, DME, prosthetics, orthotics, and supplies comprise 4 to 13% of medical costs, depending on the state.
While a common and expected component of many work-related injuries, certain DME trends bear watching in workers’ comp claims due to cost and clinical considerations. Claims adjusters should be aware that sometimes medical evidence for these trendy devices is limited or absent. In these cases, there are often more conventional, appropriate, and cost-effective treatment modalities available.
Medicare’s Definition of DME
- DME is defined as equipment that meets these criteria:
- Durable (can withstand repeated use)
- Used for a medical reason
- Typically only useful to someone who is sick or injured
- Used in your home
- Expected to last at least three years