Provider Perspective: Kim Wiles, Vice President of Respiratory Services, Klingensmith Health Care

You’re currently using the new liquid transfilling technology. Explain how this technology has helped or will help you with your liquid oxygen business.
Unfortunately, with skyrocketing gas prices and reimbursement declining, I don’t know how people are going to keep up with liquid oxygen deliveries (and) gas cylinder deliveries. I think it’s very important for the active patient to maintain activity. With this unit, we’ll be able to … provide the activity levels that they need, and we’ll also be able to provide equipment that’s beneficial to us as an industry because it’s non-delivery. We don’t have to worry about having $50,000 trucks and delivery technicians, and (patients) can still have the advantage of liquid. That’s how I foresee it helping us is to eliminate a lot of deliveries. We have about a dozen out right now, and those patients, obviously, we’d be making a once-a-month delivery on and now we don’t have to make any deliveries to them.

What is the biggest challenge in offering liquid oxygen?
Delivery, rising gas prices, because you had a certain amount built into a budget, and then that budget is blown to pieces because the gas prices skyrocket and you can’t control it.

What is your strategy for success?
At Klingensmith Health Care, we really try to maintain the patient’s lifestyle. I’d say in a lot of cases, the liquid oxygen really helps to do that. That’s our strategy when we go out to market to the physicians that we have — not just the choice of concentrators and gas cylinders, but we have a whole realm of oxygen modality options, ranging from portable concentrators to standard concentrators to liquid. A lot of companies have tried to get out of the liquid business, so we try to build our business on that.

Does offering liquid oxygen give you a competitive edge in the marketplace?
I think it has in our region (Ford City, Pa.) because liquid oxygen has been very big in our region. I think in the future it will definitely give us more of a competitive advantage because I think a lot of providers are going to try to shy away from it or get out of it because of all of the delivery costs involved. If we can say we can still provide you with liquid oxygen as a non-delivery method, I think that will be an advantage to us to help grow our business in the future.

As providers in competitive bid areas look at adding a liquid component to their businesses to meet Medicare stipulations, what advice would you give providers?
If you’re deciding now to enter into the liquid business with the standard liquid system that we’ve used in the past, I think it’s a little bit late thinking actually, just because with competitive bidding and the way reimbursement has been laid out. If you don’t know what all of your activity costing that’s involved (is), you’re going to be in for a rude awakening. I think that’s something that really needs to be planned out — the cost of everything involved, from personnel to trucks to equipment and gas, obviously, (to) service area.

This article originally appeared in the Respiratory Management July/August 2008 issue of HME Business.

About the Author

Patricia Dinwiddie, RRT, Clinical Director, Resp-I-Care

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