Oxygen Study: Jim Spellman, Vice President, Oxygen One, Waukesha, Wis.
Oxygen One implements both delivery and non-delivery modalities. Is one model used more than the other?
We have about 200 non-delivery systems, like the Venture HomeFill (Invacare's HomeFill system), out there. Our biggest sector is liquid oxygen only and concentrator/liquid combination systems. We've got a number of concentrator and cylinder patients also. So, that would be third on the list if you wanted to go in order. We looked at how it was going about three years ago, and that's when we really started making an effort to utilize non-delivery.
What steps have you taken within your home delivery model to maintain profitability with rising fuel costs, etc.?
We strive to be efficient. If we're in certain areas on certain days, we look at the patients' frequencies. We're trying to be more productive when we drive out to areas. When we're out doing fills, we want to do as many fills as we can, and be smart with where we go and who we take care of when we get there.
We've got four liquid fill trucks, and we try to cap those. When they go out, we want them to come back empty.
Do you use a GPS system?
No, but we're in the process of evaluating one. We've got a six-month commitment. We're configuring the software to our business to allow that to help us with our cost efficiencies, with our miles, with our scheduling — helping us to get the most use out of the miles driven.
How long have you been offering the non-delivery systems?
We've been utilizing them in a concerted effort for over three years.
Do you have to provide more or less education for non-delivery systems compared to other oxygen modalities?
I would say less. On a non-delivery model, you don't have to take a regulator off of an empty tank and put it onto the next. Once the tank is empty, you can put it back on the compressor and fill it up. It's less steps the patient has to do themselves and less chance of any type of problems — of not attaching the regulator properly, losing the O ring washer, etc.
Have you seen a reduction in service calls with transfilling devices compared to other oxygen equipment?
The service calls are less for the reason that the patients don't have to do much manipulation with the transfilling of the tanks. For the most part, the equipment has been very reliable, and we use both the Venture HomeFill and the iFill systems. We haven't had many equipment failures or malfunctions. We have had some — don't get me wrong — but on the whole, percentage-wise, very low.
A lot of providers are concerned about the acquisition costs for new technologies. Have you seen a return on investment?
With the new technology, the acquisition costs are going to be higher. Where the savings comes in is not having the weekly, biweekly, triweekly deliveries; inventorying all of those tanks; tracking all of the tanks; filling all of the tanks. It also comes down to safety for the client. They have two tanks to manage, rather than six, 12 or 20.
This article originally appeared in the Respiratory Management June 2008 issue of HME Business.