Reporter's notebook: Oxygen, sleep providers turn to technology

Friday, September 23, 2016

As reimbursement continues to shrink, oxygen and sleep providers are increasingly turning to technology to make their businesses more efficient and their patients happier.

Provider James Chung recently added O2 Concept’s Oxlife Independence, a portable oxygen concentrator with both continuous flow and pulse dose settings, to his product mix after receiving an up tick in calls from patients asking for POCs.

“It’s really a mainstay unit that can be used for 24-hour use,” said Chung, owner of JC Home Medical in Jacksonville, Fla. “But the biggest reason why we switched to that for our good payers is its 5-year warranty, which is unheard of in the industry for a POC.”

One product on the radar of provider Rick Adamich: a micro CPAP from Airing that’s hoseless, cordless, maskless, and battery-powered.

“As far as I know they’re still in the funding stage,” said Adamich, president of Waukesha, Wis.-based Oxygen One. “For us to use it, it would have to have 510K clearance and have viable backing behind it.”

Therein lies the dilemma with technology. You don’t want to be too early to adopt something, only to find kinks and bugs, but you don’t want to be too late, either, Adamich says.

“There’s a lot of stuff happening in sleep that stands to change the way the game is played long term,” he said. “But I think we’re still a ways out from that right now.”

To survive in the current reimbursement climate, provider Andrea Ewert says you have to marry technology in your products with technology in your operations. She leverages the power of POCs, which she has prioritized since opening in 2007, with the “Amazon model.”

“Under an Amazon model, you get the prescription, you drop ship the next day, you educate them over the phone, you get a DocuSign signature from the patient and it’s done,” she said. “That’s phenomenal and that’s the way of the future.”