0xygen drives oximetry innovation

Monday, October 31, 2005

ATLANTA - Vendors in the increasingly competitive market for overnight oximetry business upped the ante last month at Medtrade, offering product improvements intended to make testing more comfortable for patients, reduce provider delivery costs, speed up the CMN process and transmit data faster.
"Our focus is how do we continue to save our customers money because that is where the industry is going," said Mickey Letson, president of the Letco Companies. "To be competitive in the future, I feel you'll have to handle twice as many patients with the same number of staff."
Letco's new IDS O2 Wireless System is a wrist oximeter that records the patient's oxygen saturation and pulse. Because the finger probe and oximeter are attached to the patient's hand and wrist, a patient can "roll over without fear of jerking the oximeter off the bedside table," Letson said.
During the night, the IDS O2 Wireless System transmits patient information to a palm device. At a given time the next morning, the palm device dials out and downloads the information to the independent diagnostic testing facility (IDTF). The provider still has to drop the unit off at the patient's home, but he doesn't have to retrieve it the next day and forward the patient information to the IDTF. He can now coordinate the pick up with other deliveries, perhaps even when he sets up the patient - if he qualifies - on oxygen, Letson said.
In an effort to further reduce deliveries and costs for providers, Letson said, Letco plans to develop a suite of telemonitoring units for CPAP, EKGs and blood pressure.
In another development, Newco Holdings has just equipped its Web Ox system with Auto CMN. The Web Ox software now allows the IDFT to send the prescribing physician a nearly completed CMN. This will reduce the data entry errors doctors often make, such as entering incorrect patient information, and produce clean CMNs in a more timely fashion, said Bob Rudowski, president of Newco Holdings.
"What we are trying to do is create efficiency in the way DMEs function so that in light of reimbursement reductions, competitive bidding and stronger competition, the playing field is leveled and people can compete and make money," said Rudowski.
IDTF Patient First Testing, which provides software to transmit oximetry data to its testing facility, has sped up its process by changing from an e-mail to Web-based process, said President John Morris.
In a July advisory, Medicare clarified many of the sticking points that prevented some providers from embracing new technology for pulse oximetry testing. According to the transmittal, DME providers can deliver and pick up home oximetry tests to patients - a decision aimed at speeding up the process of qualifying oxygen patients. However, the provider cannot instruct the patient, and programs must have the capability of preventing anyone but the IDTF from accessing the test results.