Company Name: Patient First Testing Inc.
322 W. County Road T
Fremont, NE 68025
Established: Feb. 2, 2004
Type of service offered: Medicare-approved Independent Diagnostic Testing Facility (IDTF) for pulse oximetry
Size of Company: 12 employees
Home Health Products spoke to John Morris, president.
Describe the focus of your company.
Durable medical equipment companies, in order to sell oxygen, have to have their patients tested. And they cannot test patients themselves per se. Tests have to be done through any one of a variety of Medicare-approved people — that could be a hospital, that could be a doctor’s office, that could be a sleep lab or that could be an independent diagnostic testing facility. And then, of course, last year, Medicare came out and finally put it in black and white — they had allowed it before but they put it in black and white — that yes, the DME can get involved to the point where they can actually act as the delivery mechanism for testing. So, they can deliver their own oximeter to the patient and then transmit those test results off to a qualified entity, in our case an ITDF.
Fun Fact: And finally, please tell us a fun fact about your store or about you! We have fun at work and enjoy working with our patients and DMEs. We are a casual environment, and because Doris is the head of our baking department, we always have too much to eat.
There are a lot of DMEs out there who still don’t realize that they have to have a separate testing facility to do their pulse oximetry testing. We’re amazed that there are still a lot of folks who are doing stuff that isn’t Medicare qualified, and we would like them to know that they have an opportunity to get out there and do something so they don’t ever get themselves audited and get in trouble. A lot of people don’t realize that the form of testing we do is very important because there are a lot of folks out there who won’t show a need to have oxygen in just a doctor’s office. They can walk into a doctor’s office any day of the week and never show a need. But the only time they actually have a need for it is at night. And they can be killed by not having enough oxygen. So, there are a lot of people out there who are being underserved in the need for oxygen. It’s amazing how many people would be healthier and not have to make trips to the hospital or emergency room if they were being treated properly.
Our company is a mechanism where patients can get tested basically the same day that they get an order from the doctor. They can get the results back in 24 to 48 hours; so if the patient needs oxygen, they can be put on proper treatment right away.
We’re pretty simple. We’re an independent diagnostic testing facility. We work nationwide. We work with literally hundreds of independents and most of the major DMEs, and the reason they work with us is because we give great service and we’re able to do things other companies can’t.
What’s new for your company?
In the beginning, we mailed our units everywhere. Back then that was how we did it. We’d get an order from a patient. We’d mail it out to the patient. God willing, they’d mail it back. Then we’d complete the report. Then we’d fax it off to the doctor and the DME and that’s how we did it. But a year ago at Medtrade, we launched the Internet version of what we do and so it’s been a lot easier since then. It speeded everything. With the Internet version, we’re not tied up with waiting for us to have enough oximeters to mail out. And we don’t have to worry about mailing time and all of that good stuff, so it’s great.
Moving to the Internet has improved business for everybody. The DMEs like it because they don’t have to wait. Because when I only had 1,100 oximeters, even though I had more oximeters than anybody in America, that meant I could have 1,100 of them out in the field at a time. And if it took a week or two for them to come back, well, you could only do so many tests in a day. And with our Internet version, we’re not limited by anything at this point. Companies that work with us just take out their own oximeter to the patient and when they’re done with that, they just transmit the test results to us using our free software.
What has been the response from DMEs to your service?
The response is that they like our service. We go out of our way for service. We’ve got 24-hour patient support, so we do get the calls between one o’clock in the morning and five o’clock in the morning all the time. They like the fact that the instructions are in English and Spanish. They like the fact that more oximeters work with my program than anything out there. They like the fact that we actually review every test and that makes is so that they’re able to, if need be, have two-night tests. If somebody wants to do a test on room air one night and a test on oxygen the next night, we can handle that without any problem. We have tests for if the patient turns on and off the oximeter several times. We don’t have problems with any of those issues. DMEs like the fact that we’re able to do those things. And I keep getting lots of compliments for the people that I have working here, which makes me very proud. I’ve got a good crew. If people call up and say, “Hey, we really are happy with this person or that person and they’ve done a great job for us and we appreciate their service.” That says something to me. We get back to our people because we feel that’s important. It’s nothing but a service game. If we don’t give good service, we’re not going to be here.
How are you marketing your services?
We’ve been to the last three Medtrades, and we’ll continue to be at Medtrade all the time. Our core market is actually visiting the durable medical equipment companies.
How does pulse oximetry testing help the DME business and oxygen users?
If somebody is going to be put on oxygen, it’s important to know that they really need it for a variety of reasons. One, Medicare’s doing it because they don’t want to pay for oxygen that people don’t need because it’s a waste of money. Secondly, if you put people on oxygen who don’t need to be on oxygen, in some cases, it can actually do more harm than good. And why it’s so important for the DME is because they’ll put somebody on oxygen because they know they really need it and then they haven’t always have a good mechanism for getting the patient tested. Oftentimes, DMEs can go months without getting paid for their oxygen that they put a patient on. And they can’t ever go back and rebill for that. So the fact that we can get results back to DMEs just basically within 24 to 48 hours, they very much like that.
How have you seen Medicare oxygen cuts affect the oxygen business?
Well it’s obviously made it very important for DMEs to get their patients tested promptly because they can’t afford to go several months without getting paid for their oxygen. Costs continue to rise; you’ve got to be more efficient all the time. And our program allows DMEs to be very efficient and not lose payments.
How have you seen the oxygen business change?
The cost of fuel and the payment rates make it important for DMEs to be more efficient. The transition to oximetry testing using the DME’s oximeter has made it easy to get patients tested in a timely manner, allowing them to get paid for the patients that need oxygen instead of losing payments. Fortunately the changes in Medicare rules have clarified that the DME is allowed to act as the delivery mechanism of the test. The DME cannot be involved in the actual test but can get their patients tested without needless delays.
What sets your business apart from others like it?
We came from doing it the hard way. We understand what has to be done to take care of the patient. We’ve been very strong with patient contact. We understand that’s the core. If my people don’t want to talk to folks who are in need, they don’t need to be working here. And my people all understand that. Because of that foundation and the fact that we’re actually an independent diagnostic testing facility, we’re basically the only company out there that does it the way we do it. The thing is, we get paid by Medicare for our tests and we can get test results back very quickly, but durable medical equipment companies can’t pay us for our service. That leads to a lot of confusion. People say, “Well how do you make money?” I get paid for the tests by Medicare.