CMS expected to green light in-home oximetry

Sunday, May 1, 2005

BALTIMORE -- Any day now, a program transmittal from CMS is going to officially open the door to an easier way to get respiratory patients qualified for home oxygen therapy.

The transmittal should sanction HME supplier participation in the collection of testing results of oximetry studies by letting dealers deliver oximeters to homes where patients will be able to administer the test themselves.

The door, when it opens, will be a boon for suppliers.

"It will expedite qualification quicker, which allows us to bill sooner," said Vernon Pertelle, national respiratory manager at Apria Healthcare.

Though CMS has yet to publicly comment on in-home oximetry testing, several promising letters from a CMS official last year persuaded many companies to jump on the bandwagon with programs like Power Ox by Letco Companies (now the Instant Diagnostic System) and Web Ox by Invacare.

At least one national and more than 100 smaller HMEs are using the system to great effect already, said Mickey Letson, president of Letco Comapnies in Decatur, Ala.

Apria, for one, is awaiting answers to questions the transmittal is expected to answer, such as: Who owns the oximeter? How should the oximter be delivered and picked up? Who instructs the patient?

"We've been working with CMS on this," said Cara Bachenheimer, director of government relations at Invacare. "They are comfortable with the technology. It provides a degree of integrity that they are unable to get from traditional technology. It's like CMN technology. There are checks in the technology that give them security. You can't forge it."