Q&A with Eli Diacopoulos from Philips Respironics
By Tamer Abouras
Philips Respironics recently announced exciting news about their SimplyGo Mini portable oxygen concentrator, which now conforms to all applicable Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements for in-flight use.
ADVANCE had the opportunity to catch-up with Eli Diacopoulos, a business leader at Philips Home Respiratory Care, about this development and the SimplyGo Mini product.
ADVANCE: Congratulations on the SimplyGo Mini conforming to all FAA requirements for POC carriage and in-flight use on board aircraft! Can you briefly touch upon the process of making this product available? Was it a long time coming securing FAA approval?
Diacopoulos: Thank you, we’re very excited about the news. In May of this year, the FAA published new rules for authorizing POC use on board aircraft in air carrier operations, commercial operations and certain other operations using large aircraft. In the past, manufacturers needed to submit each individual device for approval by the FAA. As of May, the FAA put forth standards for manufacturers to conform to. Each manufacturer is responsible for making sure that their devices conform to the standards and then labels the device as such. SimplyGo Mini’s approval, however, was submitted during the time when the FAA was in the midst of changing this ruling, so it took 12 months to finalize — longer than we originally anticipated.
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ADVANCE: Seguing off of that first question, what was the inspiration for developing the SimplyGo Mini? Did Philips compile data on the percentage of its customers who were in need of a product like the SimplyGo Mini? And if so, how great was the demand and how many fliers will this device be able to assist?
Diacopoulos: Patients are really driving the demand for smaller, lighter weight portable oxygen solutions that give them the autonomy and discretion to be active outside of their homes while on oxygen therapy. The inspiration behind SimplyGo Mini was the need to provide those patients with more freedom and confidence. With the combination of oxygen delivery and battery performance in a small, lightweight package and robust and reliable design, SimplyGo Mini delivers on patients’ and customers’ needs.
ADVANCE: To what degree was mobility and flying a major obstacle for patients with respiratory needs prior to the availability and FAA approval of the SimplyGo Mini?
Diacopoulos: Given that one driver for maintaining COPD patient health is physical routine, most clinicians want to allow their patients to continue living their lives as they did before their diagnosis. While SimplyGo Mini is not the first device to be approved for in-flight travel, it provides patients with a lightweight option and reliable therapy on-the-go. At only five pounds, SimplyGo Mini allows patients to be confident in their travels with oxygen on hand, without the concerns of more cumbersome devices.
ADVANCE: Is the SimplyGo Mini easy to maintain and keep clean? Especially given that it is geared toward those who travel frequently, is it something that can be cleaned (or given maintenance, if need be) while someone is on the go or perhaps in a hotel room?
Diacopoulos: The SimplyGo Mini requires no preventative maintenance by the patient. The SimplyGo Mini includes a stylish carrying bag that maintains cleanliness of plastic enclosure. Should the carrying bag need cleaning, it may be cleaned with mild soap and water.
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ADVANCE: Finally, being a small and portable device, how often does the SimplyGo Mini need its oxygen supply replenished? Is this also convenient and easy for a frequent flier to take care of?
Diacopoulos: One of the great things about SimplyGo Mini is that it is a portable oxygen concentrator that runs on AC/DC power. That means that it doesn’t run out of oxygen or need to be replenished like old fashioned tanks that most people are familiar with. It takes oxygen from the air and concentrates it, running up to 4.5 hours on a standard battery or 9 hours on an extended battery. Most airlines suggest that patients bring enough battery power equal to or greater than 1.5 times the expected length of the flight.
For more information, visit usa.philips.com.