POC watch

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Inogen consolidated its operations into a new 35,000-square-foot facility here in late November, laying the groundwork for what CEO Kathy Odell expects to be a very big 2007 for the maker of portable oxygen concentrators.
"We believe the portable oxygen concentrator has become an accepted part of every HME's repertoire," Odell said. "We no longer hear people saying, 'Why do we need it?' It's: 'We need it, and patients want it.'"
In June, Goleta, Calif.-based Inogen brought its manufacturing in-house to control costs and maintain quality control. Now, by consolidating operations under one roof--instead of being spread throughout three buildings--Inogen allows its technical and manufacturing staff to work more closely and improves overall company communications, Odell said.
To help providers buy its Inogen One portable concentrator, the company debuted its first-ever financing program last fall. The program coincides with Medicare's new 36-month cap on oxygen reimbursement. It allows providers who buy 10 units or more to pay $99 a month per unit for 36 months.
Odell expressed disappointment that CMS's new reimbursement gives providers only $250 a month for POCs and other equipment that allows patients to fill their own portable tanks. The $20 a month increase is an incentive, but it doesn't compensate providers adequately for the higher acquisition cost compared to standard equipment.Nevertheless, the increase shows that CMS recognizes the benefit this technology offers to providers (decreased deliveries/reduced costs) and to patients (greater freedom), Odell said.
"Every responsible HME out there that I know, their goal is to provide the optimum patient care, to give the patient the independence they seek in life and that is what portable oxygen concentrators allow them to do," she said.