Have you ever cringed inside when a patient tells you they are feeling dizzy, off balance or is fearful of falling? Have you ever worried about Medicare auditing your practice if one of your patients were to fall? Have you ever worried about Medicare revoking your contract for not doing enough to prevent one of their beneficiaries from falling? If you answered yes to any of these then you are not alone.
Practitioners around the country are becoming more and more aware of the fall risks that seniors face each day. The CDC reports that 1 in 3 seniors will fall each year. Let’s put this in practical terms: if you have a family practice that sees 20-25 patients per day, chances are good that around 8 of them are seniors. That means 2 seniors walking in your door each day are going to fall this year!
Half of seniors over the age of 60 have a vestibular problem, only 9% actually have a balance problem. Two-thirds of seniors over the age of 70 have a vestibular problem and half of them will fall each year. While these numbers are staggering, vestibular dysfunction is easily treatable.
2. It’s Simple to Implement
The Vestibular Autorotation Test, or VAT, is a simple, in-office diagnostic test that shows a doctor if a patient has a vestibular problem. Easy-to-read graphical reports show if a patient is outside the norm in their ability to track an object with their eyes, both horizontally and vertically.
The VAT comes on a rolling cart and can be administered in any exam room. It is portable
enough to fit in a small briefcase and be used in home health situations as well. The patient is comfortably seated and a lightweight strap is placed on the head with five electrodes connecting to the patient’s face and forehead. At the computer-generated tone, the patient is asked to move their head and/or eyes. The entire test can be completed in less than 15 minutes and the report with interpretation is generated immediately.
If indicated, the patient is given some eye exercises to do at home. These eye exercises are
reported by the Mayo Clinic to be 90% effective in treating a patient’s vestibular dysfunction.
3. It’s Great Revenues For The Practice
The VAT also makes good business sense. Medicare reimbursements for the VAT are
approximately $250 per test plus another $100-$150 for a retest after therapy. Medicaid pays a little less and private insurance pays a little more, naturally. A practice seeing 8 seniors per day, knowing 50% of them having a vestibular disorder, could conservatively test 1 patient per day and expect $5,000 in monthly revenues. Financing is available at approximately $800/month with no payments for 90 days, allowing a practice to generate $15,000 in revenues before any payments are even made.
What are you doing to prevent seniors from falling in your practice?