Customer Care: What Your Patients Want
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 supplemental oxygen.
HomeCare: How do patients find their information?
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?