On the right track: VirtuOx tees up providers for better connectivity
CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. – VirtuOx is betting that its new tracking device is an idea with legs.
VirtuOx launched VirtuTrack after a national HME provider approached the company to help it track usage for its fleet of oxygen transfill systems.
“We started out with one idea, but we quickly realized there are a number of uses for this device,” said Kyle Miko, founder and COO of VirtuOx, a Medicare-approved IDTF for overnight oximetry and home sleep testing.
VirtuTrack’s chain-of-custody design secures the device to transfill systems or other capital-intensive equipment like non-invasive ventilators. From there, providers log into the VirtuOx portal to see if their equipment is being used.
The beauty of transfill systems is they “cut the cord” between providers and patients—they allow patients to fill their own tanks and providers to eliminate deliveries. But when patients become less mobile, the systems often go unused, Miko says.
“Then the provider has equipment out there that’s not being used as much as they’d like it to be used,” he said.
VirtuTrack helps providers determine when it’s time to transition a patient to a different modality, and frees them up to repurpose a transfill system for another patient, Miko says.
“Providers are buying new equipment for the next patient, when they could use existing equipment,” he said.
Beyond that, providers can use VirtuTrack to locate equipment when a patient dies. The device has a battery that last two weeks, allowing it to send a distress signal every 12 hours when it has been unplugged, Miko says.
“This is an issue for providers: The family members of deceased patients often arrange for their whole apartment to be picked up by Goodwill, including their equipment,” he said. “The provider doesn’t know any of this is happening and when they find out they don’t know where their equipment is.”
Big picture, Miko believes VirtuTrack better equips providers for an evolving healthcare market that increasingly values remote patient monitoring, and the improved care and reduced costs that go along with it.
“We’re already talking to ACOs and providers in the home health and HME space that are trying to earn that extra business,” he said. “They’re realizing that being able to monitor an oxygen patient on a real-time basis to find out if they’re using their therapy 24 hours a day like they’ve been prescribed, not just at night—that’s invaluable information. When you’re trying to compete and you all have the same equipment, it makes a difference.”
‘Now is the right time’
While monitoring has become ubiquitous in the sleep therapy market, where insurers require proof of compliance for continued reimbursement, the oxygen therapy market has been slower on the uptake.
But that’s all changing, says Kyle Miko, founder and COO of VirtuOx, which recently launched VirtuTrack, a device that allows providers to track usage and the whereabouts of capital-intensive equipment like oxygen transfill systems and non-invasive ventilators.
“We’re all used to having connected items in our homes, whether it’s a smart phone or a scale or a diabetes monitor or a pulse oximeter,” he said. “We’re all excited to monitor every bit of our lives with these things, so I think now is the right time. It has become more digestible and acceptable.”
Prior to VirtuOx launching VirtuTrack, O2 Concepts launched a portable oxygen concentrator with a built-in modem that allows providers to remotely perform software updates and check settings, usage and purity. ResMed has also shared plans to bring cloud connectivity to the POCs of Inova Labs, which it bought in 2016.
Also helping to push oxygen therapy toward connectivity, Miko says: The price to remotely monitor devices has become more reasonable. VirtuOx charges providers $75 for a VirtuTrack device, plus $3 per month for data.
“Five years ago, a data plan would have been $30 to $40 per month,” he said.