Putting Patients in Charge
Philips Respironics' Dream Family takes a patient-first approach to helping achieve optimal sleep outcomes.
- By David Kopf
- Jun 01, 2016
As sleep therapy solutions continue to improve and
elevate the level of care, one truth is shining through: that they must designate
patient needs a top priority. Moreover, those needs aren’t just limited to the
comfort of the sleep interface and the therapy their PAP device delivers, but to
giving users the ability to be involved with managing their therapy.
These were top concerns for sleep and respiratory equipment maker Philips
Respironics when it began developing its Dream Family of sleep therapy products.
The family consists of three main elements: It’s Dreamwear nasal mask,
the DreamStration PAP device (which comes various CPAP and BiPAP configurations),
and its DreamMapper self-management software.
The Dreamwear nasal mask is an under-the-nose nasal mask that uses a
innovative approach toward comfort in that the mask frame, made of flexible silicone,
is hollow and actually carries the airflow. This minimizes the use of tubing
and hard plastic, and lets the patient change sleep position.
The DreamStation uses a low-profile product design to minimize the device’s
presence in the user’s bedroom. It includes a front-facing display that lets patients
easily operate their device. Moreover, the device includes EZ Start and SmartRamp
features that help new users get familiarized with sleep therapy by starting at lower
settings and working their way into long-terms use. The DreamStation includes
diagnostic tools to help patients troubleshoot their devices, as well as remote
access tools when providers and physicians need to tend to the devices.
Lastly, the DeamMapper is a free mobile app and web-based system that
gives patients personalized feedback you need to take an active role in their
sleep therapy. The system provides easy-to read feedback on how they are
progressing on achieving therapy goals that they can set for themselves.
Patients receive feedback on their results from the previous night, and can
watch personalized videos and guides about sleep apnea and their sleep
Interfacing with Patients
But the way Philips approached developing the Dream Family was by getting
patient feedback on what they wanted from their treatment and equipment,
according to Jim Doty, senior director of Field Marketing for Philips Respironics.
“Everyone in this industry recognizes that it is about patients and their ability
to accept therapy so that they can live a more fulfilling life,” he explains. “So,
we’ve put forth a great deal of effort to understand patients’ needs and challenges.
Sometimes they can easily articulate them but often you have to dig
deeper to uncover the critical insights. Ultimately, whether obvious or harder to
uncover, those insights about what patients need from their therapy experience
drove the design of the Dream Family.”
Doty says the development involved patients throughout the process: “Our
designers wanted to ensure that the Dream Family would be more comfortable,
less intimating, and less-medical looking so that patients are more likely to stick
Staring with the mask, Philips knew that Obstructive Sleep Apnea patients
find masks obtrusive and uncomfortable, which is a key problem in ensuring
therapy adherence. This is especially true for patients recently diagnosed with
OSA. so Philips developed the Dreamwear using patient feedback to design a sleep therapy interface that addressed the comfort needs of patients, as articulated
“Our design team specifically wanted to gain better insight into how sleep
therapy could fit more naturally into the patient’s lifestyle to encourage longerterm
use,” Doty says. “… We noticed that patients gravitated towards masks
that create a more natural feel. As past sleep therapy solutions usually involved
excessive tubing and obstructive masks, patients preferred a design that
allowed them to sleep in any position and had an open feel.”
Similar to ensuring patients’ comfort level of the mask was ensuring the
comfort level with therapy as a whole. That’s why Philips put a premium on
connectivity when designing the Dream Family, according to Doty.
“We give patients access to more therapy data and provide clinicians with
an easy way to monitor patient progress to understand when and how it makes
sense to intervene and adjust treatment,” he explains. “Additionally, we wanted
to provide users with an option that helps them feel less like patients treating a
condition, and more like people who are getting back to living their best life and
getting a good night’s sleep.”
That level of control and connectivity helps put patients in the driver’s seat
and gets them more involved in their care and feeling more connected to their
clinicians. That will result in even new sleep therapy patients sticking with their
therapy throughout their acclimation and over the long haul, Doty explains.
“DreamMapper’s daily reminders and encouragement messages are designed
to help new patients adjust to sleep therapy,” he says. “This gives them the tools
they need to make adjustments to improve fit and comfort without the help of
a clinician or homecare provider, while also providing personalized motivation
to adhere to therapy. We also built Bluetooth, cellular, and WiFi capabilities into
DreamStation’s connectivity options so that clinicians can remotely monitor the
patient’s progress and offer support whenever needed.
“In addition, the data that the patient is seeing is the same information that
the clinician is seeing in a patient-friendly format.” Doty adds. “So when a clinician
spots an issue, with leak for example, they can re-instruct the patient and
direct them to DreamMapper for further education. The data is cloud-based
and can be shared between clinicians, caregivers, and patients, providing a
streamlined process for patient management.”
Also, by giving patients more control, this also frees up time for providers,
clinical staff and physicians to attend to priorities, rather in day-to-day equipment
“By giving patients greater insight into their therapy data and giving them
tools like the ability to troubleshoot issues to common problems, DreamMapper
can reduce the time clinicians spend answering common questions, giving them
more time to manage those patients who may need extra attention,” Doty notes.
A key takeaway for in developing the Dream Family, according to Doty, was that
patients need to be part of the product development process when it comes
to sleep therapy equipment, because the result are solutions that help drive
compliance and improved outcomes.
“This development journey provided a great reminder that patients really
are at the core of what we do and that their road to a better life through CPAP
therapy is a challenging one,” he says. “In order to meet and overcome those
challenges, we need to work together with them to deliver solutions that are
simple, effective and appealing. When we meet those requirements, we can
enhance their therapy experience and hopefully provide them the best chance
at long-term success as possible.”
This article originally appeared in the June 2016 issue of HME Business.
David Kopf is the Publisher and Executive Editor of HME Business and DME Pharmacy magazines. Follow him on Twitter at @postacutenews.