Get listed: Directory of oxygen providers hits the web

Monday, December 27, 2010

OCEAN BEACH, Calif. – Bill Ray says he’s not sure why he thought of developing a website to help oxygen users find providers when they’re away from home.

“I don’t know anyone who uses oxygen,” said Ray, who developed “I was having a conversation with a friend over dinner and drinks one night and all of a sudden it just popped into my head, ‘Bill, you need to build a website for people who are looking for oxygen.’ It was the strangest thing.”

The website, which currently gets about 130 hits per day, lists oxygen providers across the country. It recognizes a person’s location and autofills his or her city, state and zip code, and lists providers within 20 miles. It uses Google map to show their proximity.

While Ray’s main goal is to help people who use oxygen, he’s also trying to make the website a sustainable business. For $19.95, providers can become “prime listings,” meaning their name, addresses and phone numbers will float to the top of the list in their area. For $39.95, Ray will work with them to develop a video to go along with their contact information. He also sells banner ads.

“This is the oxygen yellow pages is what it is,” Ray said.

Along the way, one of Ray’s biggest supporters has been none other than Ron Richard, CEO of SeQual Technologies, which manufactures portable oxygen concentrators. The two met when they began playing in the same band in San Diego. SeQual gave Ray the names of thousands of providers who sell its POCs so he could plug them into his directory. The manufacturer also ships its POCs with information on Additionally, SeQual has a banner on the website.

“With all of the changes going on with competitive bidding, the number of providers who are getting out of the oxygen business or contemplating getting out of it is increasing, and patients who are traveling are finding it harder and harder to find a provider, particularly with liquid oxygen,” Richard said. “This is a portal that makes it easier to connect patients to providers to either rent or purchase refills or tanks as they travel across the country.”

While Ray’s not sure why he thought of developing the website, it might have something to do with a traumatic childhood event.

“I almost drowned and I remember gasping for breath and right before passing out, thinking, I just want to breathe,” he said. “I can’t even imagine being stuck somewhere and not being able to breathe properly. That would just freak me out.”