Oxygen business takes off

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Travel can be rough for the most well-seasoned passenger. For an oxygen patient, it has often been impossible, especially when it comes to air travel. In May 2009, the U.S. Department of Transportation will require all airlines to allow passengers to bring approved portable oxygen concentrators aboard. Ted Ladd, marketing director for Jackson Hole, Wyo.-based provider Oxygen To Go, talked to HME News recently about why interest in its travel oxygen business has soared recently.

HME News: How does the service work?

Ted Ladd: We send it directly to the passenger by FedEx or courier. They use it from their door to their final destination.

HME: Who is the typical customer for this service?

Ladd: It’s mostly people who previously refused to fly. They were too stressed by the system. It’s useful for people with complicated travel plans like multiple legs, layovers and delays.

HME: Who is your biggest referral source?

Ladd: We have seen interest from airlines increase dramatically as fuel costs go through the roof. We have formal agreements with Northwest and US Airways. Most of the other most of the other airlines and ask them for oxygen, they will refer you to us. Airlines are desperate to get out of the oxygen business.

HME: Why don’t they want to do it?

Ladd: They need to lighten the weight of the plane to save on fuel costs. A person might require 70 pounds worth of oxygen tanks for each leg of their trip and the typical trip has four legs. A POC weighs 15 pounds, whether the trip last 30 minutes or two days.

HME: How do you support traveling customers?

Ladd: We have 24-hour tech support. Ninety percent of problems can be solved over the phone. We also have a network of 240 board-certified physicians so if our RT can’t handle a medical question, within 90 seconds we can get a physician on the phone. And we have a rapid replacement system with units staged around the country so we can replace them in the unlikely event you drop your POC overboard or something.

HME: How much does it cost to rent a POC?

Ladd: We charge $395 the first week and $299 each week thereafter. We bill directly. Some insurances companies will reimburse and Medicare usually does.