Portable Oxygen Concentrators Key in Nondelivery Trend

Home transfilling systems share the nondelivery market with portable oxygen concentrators. And POC manufacturers are quick to point out that their devices offer similar efficiency gains.

“Nondelivery methods take costs out of the system and allow providers to use the savings to focus on the therapy side, such as how they can provide good clinical outcomes for their patients, instead of worrying about routes and trucks and tanks,” says Joe Priest, president of AirSep Corp., Buff alo, N.Y.

Priest estimates that POCs have a 10 percent market share today, so there is tremendous room for growth in the segment. At the same time, he notes that using POCs across large numbers of patients requires major investment and infrastructure change. “Smaller home care providers may have an easier time making the switch,” he says. “They can trial the technology, monitor it and learn how it works with their business. There is a learning curve.”

Manufacturers say POCs have moved out of their limited-use, earlyadopter mode and into the mainstream. “For a long time, portable devices were viewed with skepticism because they are a lot smaller than stationary units, so people wondered whether they could really work 24/7,” says Ron Richard, CEO of SeQual Technologies, San Diego. “Our unit, the Eclipse, has been in the market since 2006. We have more than 50,000 units in the field and more than 9 million hours of experience. It does take time for people to believe that the technology is going to work, last and produce good outcomes for patients.”

With proper patient titration, few question POC efficacy now. And many point to its unique capabilities. “The advantage of the POC vs. home transfilling systems is how much freedom POCs provide,” Priest says. “With a transfilling system, patients are still home-based. They have to come back to the stationary unit because they are using a contents-based system. There is always a limitation on how long they can stay out with the tanks they have. With POCs, patients manage power, not contents. They can be out hours, days, weeks or months as long as they have battery life or a power source.”

While POC technology has come far since being introduced almost a decade ago, evolution and improvements will continue. “New features make the devices easier to use,” Richard says. “And as the devices get lighter-weight and smaller, patients will be more compliant and the adoption rate will accelerate.”

“I am convinced that the future of ambulatory oxygen will be the POC,” Priest says. “It will do for ambulatory oxygen what the stationary concentrator did for oxygen in the home.” Still, only time will tell whether one nondelivery technology — POCs or home transfilling systems — will gain primacy, and perhaps what’s more important is that both can help patients and providers thrive.

This article originally appeared in the Respiratory & Sleep Management September 2010 issue of HME Business.

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