Surveying the home oxygen landscape

Friday, December 28, 2012

IRVING, Texas – If you really want to know what’s going on with home oxygen, ask an oxygen patient. 

That’s why the American Association of Respiratory Care (AARC) is conducting a patient survey on its website,, to gather data about home oxygen use. 

“Some of the basic information we’re collecting, we really have not had available,” said Greg Spratt, chairman of the home care section at AARC. “We’ve made a lot of speculation.”

The survey asks questions like: who is providing your oxygen equipment (national, regional or local HME providers); what equipment are you using; and what kind of education have you received?

Nick MacMillan, who helped design the survey, said several patient advocacy groups and member organizations are circulating the survey among their members. 

“I’d like to see 5,000 responses,” said MacMillan, owner of Outside the Box Consulting and former chairman of the AARC home care section. “The more we get this out and as more people participate, the more we’ll understand.”

So far, about 500 people have taken the survey—enough to see some interesting patterns taking shape. One key finding so far: Patients rarely, if ever, receive visits from respiratory therapists after the initial oxygen set-up. 

“When reimbursement was good, respiratory therapists would conduct visits for free,” said MacMillan. “It’s dwindled significantly—government reimbursement is not for services; it’s for equipment only.”

If there was ever a time to change that, it’s now, says MacMillan.

“With the issue of hospital readmissions rearing its head, payers will be more apt to listen,” he said. “This could be a business opportunity—it behooves us not to do it for free.”

The AARC website will host the survey through the first quarter of 2013.


Unfortunately this story was posted a little late for anyone reading it to act on the survey.  I just received my copy of HME News in the mail and instantly went to check on this survey.  I thought it might be worth sending to our patients so that they could voice their opinions on our service to the AARC.

The survey is no longer posted, however.  I checked with the AARC and they told me that it closed at the end of 2012, and it was not yet known if they would reopen it at this time.