In the last five years or so, strides have been made to offer obstructive sleep apnea therapy devices that are quiet, smaller and foster patient compliance. One global trend that manufacturers are noticing in the categories of CPAPS, mask and nasal pillows is a move toward smaller devices.
“If it’s going to fit on your bed side table on a night stand you want it to be something that sort of fits the décor of the room as opposed to something that screams out “Hey, this is a medical device,” says Bob Messenger, product manager of sleep products at Invacare in Elyria, Ohio. “That’s one of the chief things that I see as far as trends of all the new devices coming out.”
Take the ResMed S8 line of CPAP flow generators for example; it introduces smaller and more compact devices. Other advancements include adaptive technology in some of ResMed’s bi-level (VPAP) range of devices, which provide ventilatory support systems for the treatment of adult patients with respiratory insufficiency or respiratory failure. ResMed has also developed APAP systems with auto set technology, which automatically adjusts to suit a patient’s pressure needs as they vary through out the night and over time, says Michael Farrell, senior vice president, Sleep Strategic Business Unit, ResMed, Poway, Calif.
“Essentially, we have designed masks and flow generators for every type of sleeper and every type of sleep-related breathing disorder,” Farrell adds.
Dusty Muck, vice president of sales and marketing at Healthcare Dynamics Inc. in Stone Mountain, Ga., agrees that the physical unit size of CPAPS have become smaller and much easier to transport.
Another trend that Muck has noticed is that CPAP referrals are coming with humidifiers. Therefore, manufacturers have responded integrating humidifiers, as well as to make them smaller, he said.
“It’s pretty globally understood now that humidification is an essential component when it comes to making patients compliant,” Messenger adds.
“I think we and other manufacturers work on the area of humidification because certainly some of the dry mouth factors can lead to congestion problems,” says Gretchen Jezerc, director of U.S. marketing, sleep disordered breathing, Respironics, Murrysville, Pa.
To remedy that problem, one of the solutions Respironic’s offers is the Sleep Easy, a basic CPAP that provides integrated heated humidification at an affordable price. Equally as innovative as the Sleep Easy, is the Comfort Fusion mask, which was designed to bring comfort, seal and mask stability to CPAP users. This mix of comfort and value features two different size cushions, small and medium, which was made to fit 90 percent of faces, according to Respironic’s data.
Respironics has found that many homecare providers contact their patients every six months about replacement parts such as tubing, filters, masks and cushions. As in the case of many payors including Medicare, replacements can be made on some of these items every three months. “So we have a configuration of the product that has the mask as well as two cushions so in one shipment they’re able to send out both cushions and get two to three month periods worth of reimbursements,” Jezerc says.
Another trend in the sleep business, noticed by Messenger is that there’s been a shift away from the fancy and a movement to the basic CPAP or what he refers to as a blower in a box. As a result of competitive bidding and shrinking reimbursement, manufacturers are stripping out some of the more costly bells and whistles to create a basic CPAP unit that is less expensive and still provides therapy to the patient.
“I’m convinced that the bells and whistles are really important for about the first two or three weeks and then after that things like ramping no longer get used and exhalation unloading often gets turned off after this point in time,” Messenger says. “All these things that really add to the cost of a device, they have a practical life for only a few weeks and then they kind of go away.”
To learn the latest about trends and new innovations facing the sleep market, check out the upcoming April 2008 issue of HME Business. Not a subscriber? Click here now to get on the list.