As I was searching the commonwealth, er…I mean web… on Saturday I ended up venting a bit to a blogger buddy of mine (who also happens to be a doctor) about the price of a piece of medical equipment.
If only I could craft one like you can items in Fallout 4, I’d be in business. I could charge half of the going rate for these things & still make a killing in caps, er…I mean money.
There’s a device I’ll have to use after my transplant to track my lung function for the rest of my life. It’s called a microspirometer. It looks something like this.
Do you see the price on that?
That’s actually for a lower end model in which you have to put your numbers into a spreadsheet you create because there’s no way to export them off the device. You have to log it manually as you read them each morning. Tedious, inefficient but necessary.
Spirometers are like a mini lung function test. It’s how we measure how well our new lungs are performing. Any drops could mean potential rejection or sign of another problem.
I was looking for one of these devices that would either run through my phone like this one. Or would export electronically to PDF like this one where I could email results to my doctors if I needed to.
The problem is those features on these models of spirometers are easily double the cost of a low end model (at least), even if you find one on ebay.
The smart one I linked to earlier I find advertised in the UK & Europe but don’t see any medical supply stores here in the US that even carry it.
I tried to contact the manufacturer for information & rough price quote to have on hand for future reference to suggest to my center if I get a choice.
I talked to my transplant center about this ahead of time because I found a few possibilities rooting around deep in the web & didn’t want to purchase one without talking to them first. I wanted to find out how they bill it or if they have preferred models for us to use.
My nurse practitioner told me they give them out as part of the hospitalization & it’s not billed separately, so I’m hoping I can work out a version that will run through my phone when the time comes (but at least I won’t have to worry about a deductible charge on that device itself).
The drawback with the smart spirometers are the ones that are out on the market like this one (even if they go for much less than the standard ones) you have to pay the cost to order one-time use turbines (the white tube) for them, or pay an additional $200-400 for a reusable one if the device can even accommodate one.
So much of this is ludicrous! It’s highway robbery. Reminds me a lot of the whole oxygen racket with certain suppliers only stocking certain uncomfortable as hell cannulas (to get the tolerable ones you have to buy them yourself).
I’m glad my center bills it out as part of the hospital stay because I don’t know how people with Cystic Fibrosis or other diseases begin to pay for these spirometers prior to transplant if their insurance won’t cover it (which some don’t.) The out of pocket price is insane, even on the low or mid level manual models, much less anything convenient & practical.
I think there are a few in development that haven’t released to the public yet but hopefully those won’t be priced as outrageously. I’ve seen people do crowdfunding to raise money for this particular device before to offset their cost if insurance won’t cover it (or if they have a high deductible plan that makes them pay full price.)
I’ve seen Respi, Cohero Health, & Myspiroo have either just launched models for testing or studies or have smart spirometers in active development on their websites. None of these are available for ordering or even have an advertised price yet. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.
I am glad I backed the Wing on Indiegogo now because I think it might measure the same parameters & may solve this entire issue for me, (which was another reason I asked my center about preferences) but I’m not sure how long it will be before that device actually comes to me which poses a problem if I am transplanted before it gets to me. I know some of it is taking awhile because they are getting FDA clearance so I know eventually I’ll see it.
It just seems a shame that these existing devices don’t have some kind of other capability built in to export data to a phone or a cloud drive or something similar. I understand why, but still it beats manually logging numbers into a spreadsheet.
I have so many devices that run so smoothly through my phone that it saves a lot of time on my morning routine & I can easily pull that up for my doctor visits if I need to from within the app. It’s not rocket science.
I hope a solution comes soon but I guess I’ll make do with whatever option they give me temporarily until I can find something workable.
But talk about sticker shock! I don’t know why I’m surprised. I’m used to it with medicines & other things.