ResMed pilot program raises questions

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Friday, April 26, 2019

SAN DIEGO – ResMed isn’t the first vendor to take its portable oxygen concentrator direct to consumer for certain customers, but there are certain details about its pilot program, Oxyensure, that concern HME providers.

ResMed formed Expedite, dba Oxyensure, last year and launched an accompanying website, www.oxyensure.com, in late March to sell POCs by the same name directly to cash customers and through providers to insurance customers, much like Invacare and Philips.

“It seems like this (business model) is becoming par for the course (for manufacturers),” said Woody O’Neal, vice president of O2 Neal Medical in Pelham, Ala., “but what’s not par for the course is they also have an NPI number. The real concern from the supplier community is, is this a precursor to them selling to insurance customers and entering the competitive bidding fold?”

Company officials say Oxyensure isn’t contracting with Medicare, Medicaid or any commercial payers and that they needed an NPI to provide certain services to providers, like eligibility checks.

Inogen already sells to insurance customers and has held bid contracts in the past. But providers point out that Inogen, unlike ResMed, doesn’t own one of the industry’s largest software providers, Brightree, putting it within arm’s reach of a potential treasure trove of provider data.

“They own a lot of the industry’s data,” said Chris Rice, CEO of Diamond Respiratory Services in Riverside, Calif. “If there’s any company that we’ve feared going direct to consumer and taking our customers, it’s them.”

Company officials say Oxyensure doesn’t have access to Brightree’s provider data.

At the very least, providers are vexed that ResMed officials made it seem in past conference calls to discuss their financial results that their go-to-market strategy for their POC would be similar to its strategy for its sleep therapy products, which is to say, selling them through providers.

“They said they would be supporting the channel, so I feel a bit taken,” said Rick Adamich, president of Oxygen One in Waukesha, Wis. “It’s been interesting to see how they’ve gone about this.”

While some providers say they build their fleet of POCs around manufacturers that support the provider channel, other providers say, because these hybrid business models are becoming more and more common, they focus on their businesses over products.

“The DME really needs to reinvent themselves,” Rice said. “We have to come up with new and better ways to sell what’s available to us. We still get the first bite of the apple, when that patient leaves acute care and they have zero brand awareness.”

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