O&P and DME: The Distinction

Although it’s been a standard practice to combine funding and management of Orthotic & Prosthetic (O&P) services and Durable Medical Equipment (DME), these are, in fact, distinct categories of care.

Traditional O&P services require clinical skills that go far beyond purchasing a medical commodity, such as a walker or wheelchair. The clinician is an integral part of the rehabilitation team, customizing the care—and any necessary prosthetic or orthotic device—to meet the needs of the individual patient. Even the more common O&P devices, such as orthotic shoe inserts, require clinical expertise to ensure appropriate fit and rehabilitation. While many non-traditional O&P providers, such as manufacturers’ representatives and DME suppliers, offer O&P devices, they often lack the expertise to ensure quality clinical care for the full spectrum of O&P interventions.

Understanding the difference between O&P and DME is key to managing costs and care. For example, due to the requisite clinical skills, there is a large labor component associated with O&P in addition to the materials costs. Linkia’s depth of knowledge in O&P means that we are uniquely poised to evaluate both the componentry and the clinical patient care fees that comprise overall O&P expenditures.