Oxygen Delivery Issues Underscore Need for Advocacy by Clinicians, the ATS

For many patients living with respiratory disease, the delivery of medical oxygen is a necessary, but challenging, reality. Clinicians and the ATS can advocate for policy changes that would improve oxygen delivery and, subsequently, the quality of life for these patients.

A panel of experts will address those challenges in Advancing Clinical Issues to ATS and Capitol Hill: The Oxygen Therapy Exemplar. The session will take place on Tuesday, May 23, from 9–10:30 a.m. ET in Room 147 A-B (Street Level) of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

Nicholas Kolaitis, MD, MS
Nicholas Kolaitis, MD, MS

“The current legislation regarding oxygen delivery has direct effects on our patients. It has also impaired innovation in oxygen delivery,” said session Chair Nicholas Kolaitis, MD, MS, assistant professor of medicine, University of California, San Francisco. “Attendees will learn how to navigate the barriers to oxygen delivery as a clinician and will also learn what the ATS and other professional societies are doing to improve oxygen delivery through advocacy.”

Currently, oxygen is delivered to patients at home through durable medical equipment providers, similar to how a walker is delivered to a patient undergoing physical rehabilitation.

“Due to the financial limitations of DME companies and the competitive bidding process, the delivery of oxygen is not often adequate for the patient’s needs. Patients are often provided the cheapest and most affordable option rather than the best option,” Dr. Kolaitis said. “Historically, as physicians, we’ve had a lot of problems with getting adequate oxygen delivery for certain disease types, in particular for patients with interstitial lung disease, who often need liquid oxygen but are provided inadequate support through portable concentrators or inconvenient support via multiple tanks.”

A better understanding of the channels of advocacy can help clinicians more effectively interact with the overall health care system.

“There are many barriers to providing good quality care to our patients, and if there’s something in particular that is a challenge for our patients—access in terms of medicine or therapy—advocacy is one way to revise the system,” Dr. Kolaitis said. “Advocacy also gives you a purpose in terms of the greater community. It allows you to have a much broader impact than the individual exam.” 

The lineup of speakers for the symposium includes clinicians, clinician researchers, an ATS lobbyist who works directly on Capitol Hill, and patients, including one whose issues with oxygen delivery led to an avoidable hospitalization, according to Dr. Kolaitis.

Featured presentations include:

  • Setting the Tone: Capturing the Patient’s Perspective 1, Nicholas Kolaitis, MD, MS, University of California, San Francisco
  • Setting the Tone: Capturing the Patient’s Perspective 2, Jean M. Rommes, PhD, West Des Moines, Iowa
  • Listening to the Demands for Improvements: Innovations in Oxygen Delivery, Don Hayes, MD, MS, MEd, ATSF, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
  • It’s Reality for Our Patients: Challenges/Barriers Related to CMS Regulations and DME Companies, Jerry A. Krishnan, MD, PhD, ATSF, University of Illinois
  • ATS Means Family and Family Means Nobody Gets Left Behind: ATS Responses to Oxygen Issues, Susan S. Jacobs, RN, MS, Stanford University
  • To Capitol Hill and Beyond: ATS Government Relations and Your Advocacy on Capitol Hill, Gary Ewart, MHS, American Thoracic Society
  • Access, Recall, and Care — Oh My!: The Next Frontier in Advocacy, Helena Schotland, MD, ATSF, Mount Sinai School of Medicine

“The ATS is shopping a bill to Congress to try to revise oxygen delivery from being a home oxygen prescription to being a supplemental oxygen prescription, which will give providers more leeway in prescribing specifically what they want rather than prescribing home oxygen and the DME company deciding what they get,” Dr. Kolaitis said. “The ATS needs help from its members to contact their individual legislators and have them advocate to sign on to this bill.”

Don’t Miss ATS 2024 Highlights: On Demand

Don’t forget that ATS 2024 Highlights: On Demand are available to all conference registrants! On Demand will give you access to the Opening Ceremony, Plenary Session, Keynote Series, Clinical Year in Review, Adult Clinical Core Curriculum, and so much more. The topics will cover ILD, asthma, health equity, and CF, to name just a few. On Demand content will be accessible to all ATS 2024 full conference and On Demand registrants until March 2025.