As I touched on last week in my MedTrade blog, the medical supply world is changing at the pace of a bullet. We are currently hiring two new team members here at Howard’s this week (click to apply) and I love talking to potential team members for our team. We have an intensive interview process to join our team. For someone to join our team, he/she must go through five different interviews! Unfortunately this makes it slower for us to hire, especially when we need bodies immediately to help answer the phone. The good news is when we do hire someone, we end up with team members that stay at Howard’s for the long haul.
Yesterday while interviewing a potential new team member who had also interviewed at one of our competitors, she mentioned to me that our competitor does not do 24-hour oxygen patients, only nocturnal. I want to lay our cards on the table here to bring you into the world of leading a DME. If you or a family member is an oxygen patient, the store that supplies the medical supply is reimbursed anywhere between $90-210/month for the base concentrator depending on insurance and allowable. This base fee ONLY covers the concentrator which is the machine that makes oxygen in your home.
For our patients that only need oxygen at night (we call these patients nocturnal use only), this is all he/she needs. However, over time, most patients move into a category where they need oxygen 24/7 and in these instances also need portable oxygen if they go to church, to the store, or do anything out of the house. For these patients they would need either a portable oxygen concentrator (battery operated poc, see picture below) or aluminum tanks to run their errands.
All insurances also reimburse for portable oxygen. There is a major problem though and this should concern everyone in the industry: PORTALBE OXYGEN IS ONLY REINBURSED AT BETWEEN $25-60/MONTH!
The reason I write this in all caps is the reimbursement for portable is below almost all supplier’s cost. The way companies like Howard’s and other respiratory providers stay in business is we make a higher profit on the home concentrator unit which makes up for our patients we lose money on with our POC’s and tanks. At Howard’s , we also emphasize efficiency and try to predict which patients needs oxygen ahead of time. Last, we also go the extra mile with a lot of patients until they learn how to use their oxygen efficiently. We had one patient two years in a row need emergency oxygen delivered to their house on Easter. We waived the emergency charge because this was a planning error but we wanted this patient to be able to attend their local family gathering.
Here are a few things you need to know about home and portable oxygen:
- Even if you only need nocturnal oxygen, make sure your supplier you work with does both nocturnal as well as portable oxygen. Even if you are nocturnal use now, there may be a day in the future when you need 24/7 service and you need to make sure your supplier can take care of your needs.
- Make sure your supplier has a respiratory therapist on staff. Some suppliers make you call into a RT out of the area and do a phone consultation. Howard’s has two RT’s on staff and sometimes one needs more than a phone consultation and a RT needs to listen to breathing sounds and report back to your physician.
- Make sure your oxygen company has a 24/7 number they attend to after hours. We do! Even test it (preferably at 10pm and not 2am) to see if they actually answer the phone like they say they will. If you do this, tell them you read my blog as I or one of my team members will be picking up the phone.
Erik at Howard’s