Ox butt heads

Friday, December 31, 2004

CENTER LINE, Mich. - Oximetry testing makes for strange bedfellows these days, especially if you’re Bob Rudowski.

At Medtrade this year, Rudowski helped Invacare launch Web Ox, an oximetry testing program that lets HME providers send encrypted oximetry studies to his lab at Oximetry Company for interpretation. Across the hall, Mickey Letson was peddling Power Ox, the oximetry testing distributor that also uses Rudowski’s lab and that didn’t have a competitor until Rudowski helped Invacare roll out Web Ox.

“It’s kind of like being a Chevy dealer and selling both trucks and cars,” said Rudowski, president and CEO of Oximetry Company. “The owner of the technology has more than one product.“

Like Power Ox, Web Ox solves a frustrating dilemma for HME suppliers: Their home oxygen patients need an oximetry test to qualify for a therapy, but the test pays so little (less than $20) that few independent testing faclities want to do it.

Power Ox solved the problem by letting HME suppliers download data from an oximeter to a Palm Pilot which then encrypts the data for dispatch over the Internet. Web Ox also encrypts the data but does away with the need for a Palm. Users simply download the study into their office PC, where the study is encrypted and dispatched over the Internet.

The two programs, says Rudowski, cost about the same. Web Ox, he says, is a next generation version of the Power Ox technology. But Mickey Letson says Power Ox still has most of the marbles.

“We have the letters [from CMS] saying that every aspect of Power Ox has been approved by Medicare,” said Letson. “Not a single unit of Power Ox was sold until I had a letter.”