For the past two decades, the focus of long-term oxygen therapy (LTOT) has been shifting further and further each year from stationary to portable systems. Medical advancements have allowed patients being treated for lung diseases such as emphysema or chronic bronchitis to be increasingly ambulatory, causing a real demand for products that are effective and mobile.
Although the insurance companies have yet to adjust–evidenced by the fact that stationary concentrators still account for the greatest percent of the reimbursements received for LTOT–it’s clear that many of today’s respiratory patients are looking for oxygen systems they can take with them wherever they go.
Enter the world of portable oxygen concentrators (POCs).
With POCs, patients who lead semi-active lives have an option that is not only lightweight and aesthetically acceptable, but does not require constant refilling like cylinders or liquid oxygen systems. Portable oxygen concentrators produce, not store, oxygen, so the biggest challenge is giving them more power without increasing their weight/size. The greater the device’s power, the greater the likelihood that it will be able to generate a sufficient volume of oxygen to meet the patient’s needs. So manufacturers are looking into cutting-edge molecular sieves, motor speed controls, high-tech batteries and other new technologies that allow effective oxygen therapy to come in small packages.
No one is certain what the industry will look like ten years from now, but what is certain is that the arrival of portable oxygen concentrators to the home care market has forever changed how physicians and patients envision LTOT and its potential benefits. With more and more portable oxygen concentrators sure to enter the market in the future, it’s in any manufacturer’s best interest to stay well-educated on how the industry is evolving and on what new products are being introduced.
In future posts, I will discuss the many different variations on the POC and how each is more, or less, suitable for particular clientele.
Please share with us any opinions or questions on new products you might have as we want to create an open forum for oxygen patients and their families.