How long have you been primarily using the non-delivery model?
Heavily, the last two years.
When you were thinking about switching to a non-delivery model, what were the things that you had to consider?
Which patients would be applicable for a non-delivery model; the costs of the new technology and how we would bring that in with the old technology; the financial viability of using new technology and would we be able to recoup costs; and then, of course, what it costs us to make deliveries.
We have two different models. One is the Eclipse unit out of the hospital, and the other is when our therapists do a follow-up visit to find the best fit for the patient. Then we’ll either use an Eclipse or an iFill unit.
Are the devices used about half and half with patients?
No, honestly, for the patients that are first set up with an Eclipse out of the hospital, probably 80 percent of them keep the Eclipse. We have not rolled that out to all of our (27) branches. We’re slowly doing that because it is a financial investment.
What was your strategy for making that transition in terms of the trucks you had on hand, etc.?
Many patients don’t want to change. So, some existing patients still had to be home delivery. Also, we have multiple things we do besides just oxygen, so deliveries still have to be made. What it allowed us to do was to see more patients and not have to purchase trucks and also not have to hire staff. We were able to handle more patients with fewer staff.
So far, what have been the benefits of the non-delivery model?
Largely, the ability to handle more patients with fewer staff and also to be able to cut out the after-hours and late-night deliveries that you usually have to make after setting up the patients. You take them a portable unit to leave the hospital and then you have to get out right away to get them their concentrator. Using the Eclipse, they’re able to go home with the Eclipse and keep it, and we can do a follow-up visit much later and in business hours vs. overtime.
How many units do you have in the field now?
We have about 300 Eclipses and moving very closely to 400. I don’t know how many iFills we have, but we’re looking at several hundred.
Did you have an increase in follow-up calls?
Absolutely not. It’s very easy to use. We spend quite a bit of time with education. They get education at the hospital if they leave with the Eclipse. Then our therapists follow up with them in the home.
Have you seen a return on investment? Has this model been successful for your company?
Absolutely. Instead of making three visits to a new setup, we’re able to do two visits to a new setup. Immediately, you have return there — as well as not doing weekly, biweekly or monthly visits to that patient; we’re able to cut those out. So, the return on investment happened rather quickly.
It has been very successful. The other thing is patients that leave the hospital don’t necessarily go directly home. They have to stop at Wal-Mart, maybe get their prescriptions or run errands. The patients are happy in that they now have freedom that they didn’t have before. That’s one of the things that the Eclipse offers to patients is the freedom because all they are monitoring is their battery life and not whether they’ll run out of oxygen or not.