Remote patient monitoring lags for oxygen therapy, poll shows

Barriers include lack of requirement, cost, respondents say
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Friday, November 17, 2017

YARMOUTH, Maine – Remote patient monitoring appears to be permeating the sleep therapy market, but not so much for the oxygen therapy market, according to the most recent HME Newspoll.

Eighty percent of poll respondents report they use the technology in their sleep business, but only 15% say they do in their oxygen business.

“Really, we only use remote monitoring for CPAP compliance,” wrote Josh Turner, billing manager and compliance officer for McAbee Medical in Decatur, Ala. “With reimbursement the way it is and compliance for oxygen usage not being required, we have to look for the best value in oxygen equipment.”

CMS has required compliance as a condition for reimbursement for CPAP therapy since 2008.

With margins razor-thin, remote patient monitoring allows providers to prove CPAP patients are compliant with their therapy in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible, respondents say.

“It is a really valuable tool and saves staff time and (results in) fewer patient interactions in the office,” wrote Kim Wonsick, the compliance officer at J&B Medical in Niceville, Fla. “Typically, if a patient has to come in to bring an SD card, it will turn into a 15- or 20-minute discussion that needs to be directed to their sleep doctor.”

For oxygen patients, in addition to the lack of a compliance requirement, cost seems to be a big barrier to providers adopting remote patient monitoring, according to the poll.

“I wish we could afford to use it on oxygen,” said Katy Collins, the lead RT at Archbold Home Care in Thomasville, Ga.

For these reasons, the ramp up in using remote patient monitoring for oxygen patients will likely be a protracted one. In fact, only 15% of respondents who don’t currently use remote patient monitoring plan to in the next year, according to the poll.

“Remote patient monitoring for oxygen is great but will be a slow implementation, as we would not replace our existing equipment just to add the technology, and then only if the price is competitive,” Wonsick added.

But respondents who are leveraging connected technology from the likes of O2 Concepts, Invacare and CAIRE to remotely monitor their oxygen patients are saying it pays off.

“It has reduced service calls, assisted with reimbursement from HMO administrators and reduced shrinkage due to theft or moving after death,” wrote one respondent. “Currently, one-fifth of our patients are monitored.”