Edna Fiore is a nationally known COPD awareness advocate and
activist in Littleton, Colo. Here are her thoughts on the role
consumerism is playing in the treatment of lung disorders.
HomeCare: How aware are COPD patients of their
choices in oxygen equipment?
Fiore: The average COPD patient is totally in
the dark when it comes to portable oxygen delivery devices and
systems. The need for supplementary oxygen is, in itself, a
tremendous emotional shock, and the patient is often at the mercy
of their provider. A good number are sent home from the hospital
with an "E" tank and are under the impression that they will be
have to deal with this cumbersome equipment as long as they require
HomeCare: How do patients find their
Fiore: Those who are cyber-savvy can check out
options on the Internet. Unfortunately, over half of patients over
the age of 60 cannot or will not use the Internet. One method they
use is to ask questions of other oxygen patients that they see with
the smaller, more manageable portable units. I am quite often
approached and questioned about my portable device.
HomeCare: Are patients beginning to ask for
specific delivery options? What drives these choices?
Fiore: Yes! They are beginning to ask for more
information on what they see and hear about on the Internet and at
respiratory conferences, rallies and fairs.
They want more options because they want the ability to have a
full and rewarding lifestyle, be able to exercise to an optimum
level, travel and be free to enjoy a normal social life.
HomeCare: How can HME providers work best with
their COPD patients in this regard?
Fiore: Inform the patient about the portable
options that are most individually suitable. Then, instruct them on
the use of pulse oximeters: where to obtain one and how to titrate
their one saturation levels.
HomeCare: What would patients most like to say
to their oxygen providers?
Fiore: Why wasn't I fully informed about my
supplementary oxygen options? Why doesn't my oxygen provider follow
up and inquire about how the system provided is working for me?