Sleep Therapy Compliance: The Mask Remains King
The most significant component of adherence, from a device perspective, is the mask, and technological advancements are driving new ways to improve patient compliance rates and successful business outcomes.
- By Subbarao Potharaju
- Apr 01, 2022
The sleep industry continues to face challenges in
increasing compliance and long-term adherence of
patients to PAP therapy. Where low levels of compliance
are concerning, it also presents a massive
opportunity for providers of sleep products, such as DME
pharmacies. Long-term adherent patients not only benefit from
improved health outcomes but also drive sustainable revenue
opportunities for DME pharmacies.
The components of a typical setup, which influence therapy
adherence, are the CPAP machine, breathing mask, educational
support, and patient behavioral factors. The most significant of
all these, from a device perspective, is the mask. Technological
advancements and patient-centric mask solutions, optimized
for specific DME business models, are driving new ways
to improve patient adherence rates and successful business
Since the mask is in contact with the patient’s face, it requires
carefully designed features to comply with a wide range
of facial dimensions and geometries. It needs daily care plus
adjustments to minimize leaks. If not set up properly, the mask
leaks could cause discomfort and result in poor adherence. The
usability of PAP hinges heavily on the patient’s perception of
the mask, as it’s the most patient-dependent component of the
Mask technologies have evolved a lot over time. Masks are now
designed with advanced engineering materials using state-of-the-art automated manufacturing processes which integrate
materials into very intricate shapes. As an example, the F&P
Simplus was the pioneer in using silicone in an intelligent way
to reduce pressure on the bridge of the patient’s nose and also
to achieve leakproof sealing capability up to very high CPAP /
The use of patient-centric product design methodologies
with extensive use of data and product-use testing has driven
the quality of masks to meet the very demanding patient compliance
and comfort requirements with optimal size and shapes.
Nasal pillows can gently minimize irritation in the nostrils.
State-of-the-art manufacturing techniques drive the quality
of masks, especially to meet the very demanding usability expectations
of patients. Headgear that holds its shape to make
them easier to wear has now become available. Users can put
on this headgear with one easy, single-handed movement and
with their eyes closed — just like putting
on a baseball hat.
Appropriately selecting the correct/optimal size of cushion and headgear
also drives compliance, as a wrongsized
cushion can lead to unintentional
leaks and cause a number of cascading
issues such as dry eyes, skin irritation, etc.
Several new software apps are being developed to assess
the appropriate size. A more robust approach to the size challenge,
however, especially when setting up a new patient, is to
go with a trusted and proven low-tech solution which includes
multiple sizes in one pack.
Kits that offer multiple sizes of cushions in one single
package and include very simple and intuitive patient instructions,
such as F&P Fit Packs, enable the patients to identify the
optimal size of cushion appropriate for their individual needs.
This also encourages patient involvement in the process and
develops patient engagement with the therapy, and helps them
solve problems and become self-reliant, which is extremely
important for long-term adherence.
CPAP therapy can be overwhelming for new patients, and
resolving issues in a timely way can make or break a patient’s
confidence and motivation to stay on therapy long-term.
Education and support are two of the most important factors
to consider. DME-based respiratory therapists play a significant
role in imparting the required education and guidance. However, Software tools, especially mask-focused smartphone
apps are also playing a significant role in helping the patients.
On-demand help at patients’ fingertips is a critical solution
consideration for DMEs. Apps such as F&P myMask App are
gaining momentum and could play a transformative role in making
patients self-sufficient in troubleshooting routine issues.
This article originally appeared in the DME Pharmacy April 2022 issue of HME Business.
Subbarao Potharaju (Subbarao.firstname.lastname@example.org) is the director of marketing for Fisher & Paykel Healthcare. He has led a number of CPAP product development projects during his 24-year career with FPH in New Zealand and the United States. He currently heads the Product Management, Marketing and Software Support functions for FPH’s North American Homecare business.