As the marketing push for ResMed’s S9™ Series reverberated around the 24th APSS (American Professional Sleep Societies) meeting in San Antonio, the San Diego-based company’s VPAP™ Tx Lab System quietly began to build its own momentum. Billed as an “all-in-one” titration solution for sleep labs, the unit contains all ResMed therapies, including adaptive servo-ventilation (Adapt SV), which treats central sleep apnea, mixed apneas, and periodic breathing.
According to Elizabeth Little, VPAP Tx Product Manager at Resmed, most people were surprised to hear the system includes all ResMed’s therapies. They expected Adapt SV to remain separate, and were pleasantly surprised to see it in the mix. “Our goal with the VPAP Tx was to build a product that would be easy for sleep techs to use and extremely comfortable for patients,” said Little. “We studied the work flow of technicians, and minimized the number of steps they need to take. Swapping out the bedside device for one therapy mode vs another was cumbersome, and the way to eliminate that was to put all of our superior therapies in one system. We put lab technicians’ needs at the forefront when developing this product.”
Throughout the conference, Little kept up a continual dialogue with sleep technicians and lab managers about the finer points of the new system. Little reports that many technicians were very impressed with the highly intuitive software. Among the most popular features were the therapy default settings, which are customizable and automatically reset to baseline pressure upon startup, eliminating a step for the tech, and preventing them from accidentally startling the patient with a blast of pressure. Additionally, she pointed out the “Detailed Settings Report,” which provides a complete record of all changes made to therapy during the night, giving them visibility to the performed by the techs, and allowing them to identify areas where training is needed.
A bilevel function delivers two treatment pressures—one for inspiration and one for expiration—and provides control over a variety of bilevel therapy modes. This integrated approach is a first for ResMed, and Drew Terry, senior director, product management, sleep SBU, says that a few months into the launch has seen many labs convert to the new unit with success. “The techs like the easy layout,” enthuses Terry. “They can go from CPAP mode to bi-level mode during the testing process, and it does it in an intelligent way—giving full control while also making recommendations. New technicians won’t spend a lot of time figuring out how to set things up. It’s automatic but it also allows you to make any necessary adjustments.”
After sleep lab technicians use the VPAP for titration, patients may ultimately go home with an S9 CPAP. Those that opt for this route will get many of the same features and technologies that served them during testing. “They can sleep with the Easy-Breathe Waveform, which synchronizes pressure with natural breathing patterns,” says Terry. “They will get the same ultra-quiet therapy in the home that they experienced in the lab. By maintaining consistency between the lab and home therapy, you are maximizing the patient’s chance for success.”
On the home care side of the sleep business, HME providers were left reeling in July when CMS announced new winning bid prices in the Medicare competitive bidding program. Unless legislative remedies derail the program, home care providers in 9 of the nations metropolitan areas will take a 32% cut in their Medicare allowable for CPAP units in 2011.
Currently, sleep labs must refer all Medicare CPAP patients to an HME to fulfill the prescription. “Some reports have shown that more people are considering dispensing, and that is something sleep lab owners may consider when looking at all the forces on their business,” says Terry. “Getting into the home care side of the business is another opportunity, and I think a lot of people are considering it. It’s a relatively small percentage of labs that are doing it right now—probably less than 20%. It’s a different business than running a lab.”
It is a competitive business environment for labs and many labs are looking for additional ways to serve their patients and grow their business. “They are considering how they might include home testing in their service offerings,” says Terry. “Although the revenue for a home test is less than what the in-lab tests are, labs are looking at that as a way to bring in additional patients who maybe would not have come into the lab anyway.”
S9 Still in Spotlight
Despite reimbursement uncertainties, trade show season has been kind to San Diego-based ResMed as the company continues to market its S9™ flow generators. The makers of the Swift and Mirage CPAP masks are spreading news of the S9‘s treatment technology in an attempt to create maximum value, an attribute that company officials say is even more important during uncertain times. “Our goal in the development of the S9 was to create a system that offers more than any other device on the market–more comfort, more control and more style–so users can feel confident about incorporating it into their lifestyle, and health care providers can be confident that their patients are receiving the highest quality of sleep apnea treatment,” said Terry.
Terry says the S9 represents a new approach to patient compliance, essentially making it easier for users to accept CPAP on their own terms. “It puts them in control of the details that make the difference in their personal comfort, like EPR™ level and humidification settings,” adds Terry. “It has intuitive menus and dials to make it easy to adjust. It reduces noise to a virtual whisper, so it won’t disrupt a sleeping partner. And it comes in a stylish design that looks like something they want to have at their bedside.”
With the S9 Series, ResMed has introduced a number of improvements, including Enhanced AutoSet™ and Easy-Breathe algorithms—and an improved Easy-Breathe motor for low noise levels. The S9 provides detailed data reporting for clinicians, and a complete S9-compatible wireless compliance management package to streamline business efficiencies. A humidification system with Climate Control intelligently adapts to the user’s real-time environmental conditions to provide optimum performance and humidification delivery. An innovative SlimLine™ tube eliminates tube drag.
Ultimately, the S9 is a large part of the overall push toward greater innovation in what will surely be a huge decade for sleep medicine. Companies big and small are all angling to serve the growing market, and Terry acknowledges that competition is fierce.
Elizabeth Little is Product Manager Sleep, based with ResMed in San Diego, CA.
For more information, visit www.resmed.com