INSPIRATION! At Home with Dealers

The following dealer profile was published in the April 2006 Respiratory supplement "Inspiration!"

Company Name: Sleep Solutions Inc.

Location/Contact Info:
Michael J. Thomas
President and CEO
8028 Ritchie Highway, Suite 120
Pasadena, MD 21122
Phone: (410) 590-0443 or (800) 671-9607

Established: 1992

Types of products sold: In-home sleep apnea diagnostic testing services nationally. Any patient in any ZIP code can be serviced by Sleep Solutions Inc.

Size of Company: Sleep Solutions conducts more than 10,000 sleep studies per year.

Home Health Products spoke with Michael J Thomas, president and CEO of Sleep Solutions.

Fun Fact: The genesis of Sleep Solutions in 1992 was research into snoring and an attempt to develop a product that would cancel out the snoring of a bed partner using noise cancellation technology. The product was never successfully developed, but one could only imagine how many marriages could have been saved had Sleep Solutions' founder figured out how to eliminate snoring in this manner.

Please provide us with an overview of Sleep Solutions and the hybrid nature of your business.
Sleep Solutions is a hybrid between a medical device manufacturer and a national health care service provider. Sleep Solutions is a Medicare-approved independent diagnostic testing facility as well. We are an approved FDA manufacturer of a proprietary medical device, Novasom QSG. In addition to in-home sleep study services, SSI provides in-home CPAP titration services, CPAP compliant patient compliance programs and overnight pulse oximetry services. All of these services can be provided to any patient in any ZIP code in the United States. Sleep Solutions has developed a proprietary system that enables direct delivery of medical devices to patients for patient self-administered diagnostic tests.

Do you work with other providers of sleep products in your area?
Yes. We are sales accelerators for home health and durable medical equipment (DME) companies. By providing in-home pulse oximetry and sleep study services, we enable home medical equipment providers to care for patients in a more expeditious manner. Sleep labs have significant back logs that slow down the care management process for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) patients. This delay is not just annoying, but also can be deadly. Most home care businesses are motivated to care for patients as quickly as possible while providing a high level of care. Sleep labs are not capable of a scalable solution for DME and home health providers because of their significant capacity restraints and severe labor shortages of sleep technicians. Sleep Solutions' scalable business model and infrastructure allows for national, consistent delivery of pulse oximetry testing services. This service enables DME/HME firms to service their oxygen patients quickly, efficiently and with high quality standards and controls. By providing DME/HME firms with a national service guided by strict quality controls, Sleep Solutions' partners are confident that a patient in Kansas City will get the same high quality, consistent service that a patient in New York City will get.

What component of your business is working well for you?
Sleep Solutions' in-home sleep study diagnostic services and pulse oximetry services are growing at rates that are three times the average market rate for those services. Many U.S. health insurance firms have contracted with Sleep Solutions for reimbursement for our in-home sleep study services, despite a Medicare non-coverage decision for in-home sleep studies.

What is something you have learned from your experience in the HME industry?
Companies that enable DME/HME businesses to sell more products or deliver higher quality services can quickly endear themselves to the HME industry, but firms that provide consistent, uncompromised quality in addition to accelerating revenue become true business partners, not merely vendors.

It is thought that as many as 95 percent of sleep apnea patients have not yet been diagnosed. Do you agree with this finding and if so, what do you think it means for the sleep business in terms of growth as more people get diagnosed? Yes, I agree with this number. It seems that the growth of the sleep market is exceeding the diagnostic rate; in other words, there are more patients developing obstructive sleep apnea each year than the number of patients that are being tested each year by all of the U.S. sleep labs combined. The sleep market will continue to grow at very robust rates — 20 percent annually — for the next five years. However, if new diagnostic modalities are accepted and approved by Medicare and large health insurance companies such as Wellpoint, United Healthcare, Aetna and Cigna, innovative companies employing unique technology can help accelerate this market growth rate and DME/HME firms should be well positioned to benefit from the elimination of the obstructive sleep apnea bottleneck. If this occurs, I think the sleep market will become the largest revenue portion of the average HME firm.

If you could change something about the sleep end of the industry, what would it be?
Acceptance by sleep specialists and sleep labs of the in-home diagnostic technologies and advancements.

This article originally appeared in the April 2006 issue of HME Business.


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