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2016 Portable Oxygen Concentrator Guide
Here it is, the 2016 version of our annual Portable Oxygen Concentrator (POC) Guide. Not much needs to be added from our previous 2015 version as there hasn’t been much introduced in the last year.
- Over the summer of 2015, Philips Respironics introduced the SimplyGo Mini, a pulse-only POC that can produce up to around 1000 mL/min of Unlike the larger SimplyGo, the SimplyGo Mini cannot provide continuous flow, and be aware that the pulse volumes delivered at identical settings between the SimplyGo Mini and the SimplyGo are not the same. In terms of oxygen production and size, the SimplyGo Mini is most similar to the Inogen One G3 and the FreeStyle 5. As of now, the SimplyGo Mini has yet to be approved for air travel by the FAA (though we do expect it will be at some point), so keep that fact in mind when considering renting or buying this unit.
- At the beginning of 2016, Inogen updated its Inogen One G3 concentrator, adding some production volume, increasing the total output from around 840 mL/min to around 1000 mL/min, and adding a pulse setting of 5, giving the unit a range of settings from 1 to 5. The same goes for the OxyGo POC, which is the same exact model as the G3 but marketed under a different name. Users interested in an Inogen One G3 or OxyGo model should inquire whether or not the unit has 4 or 5 settings to be sure they are getting the latest model. Below is a brief list of items to keep in mind when considering purchasing a POC.
- Size Matters. In general, the smaller the POC, the less oxygen the device will be able to produce. This is especially important to keep in mind because during activity, most oxygen users need more oxygen delivered to them to maintain adequate saturations. If the device cannot produce enough oxygen to saturate the user during certain activities, that device should not be considered appropriate for use during those activities.
- Each POC is Different. Every model of POC has its own performance characteristics that make it unique from other POCs. Users should never assume that one device will deliver the same therapy as another. Differences in performance tend to be wider when comparing a larger POC to a smaller POC, but even similar sized POC models will have oxygen production and delivery characteristics that should not be ignored.
- Pulse Delivery Characteristics. POCs feature pulse delivery settings, and users should know whether or not the POC delivers its pulses via minute volume delivery or via fixed pulse delivery. POCs that use minute volume delivery will reduce the pulse volume delivered per breath as the user’s rate rises (where typically the user will need more oxygen, not less), whereas fixed pulse devices will not lower pulse volumes with an increase in rate. Currently, all POCs that do not have continuous flow capability have minute volume delivery algorithms. Further explanation of minute vs. fixed pulse delivery can be found in the January- February issue of The Pulmonary Paper.
- Added Weight. Manufacturers, when reporting the weight specifications, typically only state how much the unit itself plus one battery This value ignores the added weight of any accessories, which can include extra batteries needed for travel, carrying bags and carts, ac and dc power adapters, and other items. When looking at how much the POC weighs, be sure to add anywhere from one to five additional pounds depending on the amount of accessories that will be needed for use.
- Battery Life POC battery life will be dependent on the setting used as well as the breath rate of the user. Users needing to set the POC to higher pulse settings should expect less battery life than if set at a lower pulse setting. For POCs with continuous flow operation, setting the unit to continuous flow will go through the battery power at a significantly higher rate than if set to the same pulse setting value. Also, device specifications for battery life are reported in optimal (and new) conditions and will decrease over time.
As always, feel free to contact me if you have any questions about POCs at my email address, [email protected]