The technology

OxyMask (Southmedic) is an open mask that uses an innovative pin and diffuser system to deliver oxygen therapy. The mushroom-shaped pin is designed to redirect and concentrate the oxygen flow while the diffuser directs the flow towards the nose and mouth. There are openings in the mask that allow room air to mix with the delivered oxygen when a person inhales. The company claims that, compared with standard masks, OxyMask results in a more consistent prescribed concentration of oxygen. The openings in the mask are also designed to minimise the risk of carbon dioxide rebreathing. The overall design of the mask is also intended to be more convenient and comfortable for patients, allowing communication and eating and drinking.

The OxyMask is designed to deliver a wider range of oxygen concentrations (from 24% to 90%) and flow rates (from 1 litre to more than 15 litres per minute [litres/min]) than standard masks. It is available in adult and child sizes.


OxyMask has novel design features that are intended to improve the delivery of oxygen therapy and be more convenient for patients.

Current care pathway

Oxygen therapy is used to help people with a range of health conditions, such as severe long-term asthma, pulmonary hypertension and cystic fibrosis. It is most commonly used to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Oxygen therapy is most commonly delivered through either nasal cannulae or a face mask connected to an oxygen cylinder or concentrator machine by a flow regulator. Nasal cannulae are usually preferred for delivering long-term oxygen therapy. Simple masks are not recommended for patients who need low-flow oxygen because of the risk of carbon dioxide rebreathing. Other masks that can also be used are a venturi mask and a non-rebreather (also known as reservoir) mask. A venturi mask is used when a fixed concentration of oxygen is needed. The non-rebreather mask is used mainly in emergency situations for acute respiratory conditions.

The following publication has been identified as relevant to this care pathway:

Population, setting and intended user

The optimum place in treatment for using OxyMask is currently uncertain because of the wide range of people in whom oxygen therapy is prescribed and the range of care settings in which it is used. Specialist commentators have suggested that it might be particularly suitable for people who need varying flow rates to achieve target oxygen saturation.

It would be prescribed by healthcare professionals as part of an oxygen therapy pathway.


Technology costs

Each OxyMask costs £2.40 excluding VAT; bespoke pricing arrangements, including through NHS supply chain, are available; this is likely to reduce the unit cost.

Costs of standard care

Prices of current oxygen masks, including the simple mask, venturi, non-rebreather and rebreather masks, range from £0.41 to £1.31, excluding VAT (NHS supply chain). The paediatric masks are at the higher end of the range. The unit price is often reduced when masks are purchased in bulk.

Resource consequences

If OxyMask is being used continuously or as part of a per-hospital oxygen therapy device protocol then it should be replaced every 10 days. If it is only used occasionally then it should be replaced every 30 days or at the first sign of wear.

Using OxyMask would cost more than standard masks. The additional costs could be offset if it improved patient outcomes, reduced the amount of oxygen used or enabled better stock management. The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service recently did clinical studies using OxyMask. A summary of the studies' results reported that the annual delivery cost of using OxyMask was £126,321 compared with £132,900 for traditional oxygen masks. It concluded that there could be £32,895 in cost savings over 5 years.

OxyMask is currently being used by 1 ambulance service and 4 NHS trusts and is at various stages of service evaluation and implementation in these and other organisations.