Market for home ventilation keeps growing

Sunday, June 7, 2009

MURRYSVILLE, Pa. - It's no secret why more and more patients who require prolonged mechanical ventilation (PMV) are being transferred to the home. It makes dollars and sense.

The most expensive setting for PMV is an acute care hospital at $6,000 a day. That's followed by long term acute care, $2,000 a day; skilled nursing facility, $450 to $750 a day; and finally home care, where costs vary, depending on the need for home nursing, said Christine Cunningham, a respiratory therapist with 19 years of clinical experience in hospital and home care settings.

Cunningham spoke at a call-in event last week sponsored by Philips-Respironics titled, "Bringing Innovation to Home Ventilation." The presentation coincided with the roll out of Respironics' new 11-pound Trilogy 100 portable home ventilator.

CMS defines PMV as being on a ventilator for more than six hours a day for greater than 21 days.

"I remember a time when I worked (in a hospital) and we would have prolonged mechanical ventilation patients in the ICU for literally months," Cunningham said. "One patient was there for nearly a year. That doesn't occur today. Patients are moved much more quickly to more cost effective settings."

The number of people on PMV is projected to jump from 250,000 in 2000 to 605,000 in 2020, said Cunningham, who estimated that roughly 20% currently receive treatment in the home.

Despite their physical limitations, PMV survivors commonly report satisfaction with their life. That's why it's so important, Cunningham said, that manufacturers continue to develop medical equipment that allows "our patients to live life to the fullest."

"To this end, there is an absolute need for more portable medical devices," she said. "This technology can improve our ability to intervene and provide better care to our patients while controlling costs."