Every DME supplier who provides oxygen understands the importance of maintaining their oxygen patient base to sustain revenues. The industry average for oxygen patients who are discharged from service each month is equal to approximately 6% of the total patient base.
For a company with 500 oxygen patients that represents approximately 30 discharge requests per month!
Oxygen patients may be discharged from service for a number of reasons: patients may decrease, they may be transferred to hospice or long term care, or they may move out of the provider’s geographic service area. These discharges are unpreventable. Many other patients are simply non-compliant and want their oxygen picked up. These patients generally have chronic conditions, such as COPD or CHF, and in most cases should remain on oxygen therapy as effective treatment for the management of their disease. These patients represent up to 50% of the total monthly discharge requests. The VO2 Program focuses on this group of patients.
The foundation of the program is simple and many DME suppliers already have some resemblance of this program already incorporated into their company’s procedures. When a patient calls in to have their oxygen picked up because they are not using it or they state that they no longer need it, the next step would be to perform a repeat oximetry (with physician’s orders) to measure the patient’s SaO2 levels and determine the need to either continue or discharge the oxygen therapy.
Using the example above, a DME supplier with 500 oxygen patients will process up to 15 preventable discharge requests per month. Activity Based Costing shows that the cost to retest these patients is approximately $125 each.
Retesting 15 patients per month will cost $1,875 per month or $22,500 per year!
VirtuOx will handle all of the logistics and testing of this program for you. The DME supplier does not need to courier the oximeter to and from the patient’s home. Once the proper physician’s order is received, VirtuOx will mail a VPOD-Wrist oximeter to the patient’s home with instructions for the test. The overnight oximetry test will be performed in a two-night format. During the first night the patient will be instructed to sleep with the oximeter while on their current prescribed oxygen liter flow. During the second night of the study the patient will be instructed to perform the test without the oxygen. On the following day the patient will return the oximeter to VirtuOx in the postage paid box.
The test results will be processed at the VirtuOx lab and the results will be sent to the treating physician and to the DME supplier, so that they may be discussed with the patient. The VO2 Program’s use of two test studies allows the physician and DME supplier to evaluate the efficacy of the oxygen therapy. Patients who continue to desaturate while being tested on room air, but show improvements while on oxygen can be counseled on the importance of continuing their oxygen therapy. Compliance will increase as the patients will see supporting evidence to substantiate the need for their oxygen.
Additionally, on January 1, 2009, rental payments will cease for oxygen patients who have been on service for 36 months. Industry experts estimate that this will affect another 30% of a DME supplier’s oxygen patient base. Some of this attrition can be reduced if the proper measures are put into place.