CHOOSING PROPER HOME OR PORTABLE OXYGEN EQUIPMENT
Today’s oxygen dependant patients have many choices of Home Oxygen Therapy to fit their many different needs. The goal of Home Oxygen Therapy is to keep the patients Blood Oxygen Saturation level at an appropriate healthy level. Age & disease can cause a persons lung capacity to slowly diminish. That’s where the lungs are less able to oxygenate the person’s blood. Of course your doctor would be the one to determine that, and if needed, prescribe home oxygen therapy use. As a guideline for example, an excellent level is 100% to 95% Oxygen Saturation. But on the low side, Medicare will only cover home oxygen therapy if the patient’s oxygen level goes below 89% while at rest.
Home Oxygen Therapy has come a long way. An Oxygen Concentrator does exactly what its name implies. It continuously filters and Concentrates room air which results in delivering approximately 95% oxygen purity levels. This advancement alone has in itself saved countless hours of driving back and forth, picking up and delivering a never ending supply of Oxygen tanks.
To determine which Oxygen Equipment is appropriate for the end user there are important considerations. The first thing to consider is if the patient is mobile or bed bound? If the patient is bed bound than the traditional, tried and true Home Oxygen Concentrator unit has been an excellent machine. It’s also a very simple device to use because once you set the Oxygen Flow Rate, you don’t need to do much more then breathe normally.
The normal Home Oxygen Setup consists of a Concentrator and a Portable Oxygen Tank Setup. The Portable Oxygen device is typically an E size tank with a regulator & cart that is used when the patient goes to the doctor or other outings away from the plugged in Home Concentrator. It also can be used as a backup in case of a power failure.
If the patient is mobile however, other considerations come into play. Does the patient need a “Continuous Flow” of Oxygen or can they use a smaller machine that has sensors which only send a burst of oxygen when the patient breathes in? These units have the setting called “Oxygen on Demand”. If the patient does well with the “Oxygen on Demand” there are a number of brands on the market to choose from. They range in price but also in features and quality. How much oxygen is actually in each blast? It’s kind of like the Vitamin Industry where everyone claims to have the best unit on the market but how do you really know if it’s true until you buy it and try it?
The next question to ask is “how active is the patients lifestyle”? How much time away from the home unit is spent daily? The insurance reimbursement has been cut so low that it only covers the dealer refilling just 3-5 tanks per month, and then once you factor in the gas, the truck & delivery personnel the dealers are now in the red and losing money each month. That’s where Portable Oxygen Concentrators (POC’s) that do the same thing as the plugged in wall unit does but is much smaller, lighter & easier to carry around. They can work plugged in the wall as the traditional units but they also work on batteries or they can even be plugged into a car.
If the “On Demand” or “POC” doesn’t work for you there’s another option called a “HOMEFILL”. It has 2 components working together doing just as the name say’s, it FILLS its own tanks at HOME. The first unit is the same traditional oxygen concentrator machine. But the second unit connects them together and uses the excess capacity to fill its own specially adapted tanks. With a Homefill unit, you no longer need to wait for the delivery guy to come out with more tanks because you’re filling the tanks at your pace depending on your need. There aren’t as many POC’s or Homefills out there to choose from but the advice I’d give is to consult with a Medical Supply Dealer you can trust to assist you in finding the best choice to fit your needs.
If the insurance money is paying for your oxygen supply than the choices you have may be limited to what your insurance carrier covers. More & more studies have been showing that an Oxygen patient is more likely to be compliant and actually use the oxygen equipment as prescribed when they have access to the type of equipment that gives the patient the freedom to be more active. It has also shown that an active lifestyle will lead to a healthier patient with significantly fewer visits for medical care. And this in turn will lead to a healthier bottom line for the insurance companies. I would encourage insurance companies to focus on the patients long term use and benefit and not the cost of the equipment.
This article is some of the options now available in the Home or Portable Oxygen Equipment market. Questions, or for more information, call Bruce Sandler at 818-832-4177 or visit us at http://www.WishingUWellMedical.com.
Invacare’s Homefill Training video