How digital health can improve CPAP adherence

 In Medical Product Design

Sleep apnea affects about 1 in 15 people, 18 million Americans and 100 million people worldwide, according to the National Sleep Foundation. If left untreated, people suffering from this disease can suffer from impaired cognition, mood swings, vascular disease, hypertension and an increased risk of automobile accidents. Unfortunately many patients are not following through on prescribed treatments, because they're so difficult. 

Continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, is the most common treatment for patients with diagnosed sleep apnea. Patients have to sleep wearing a CPAP mask, which forces continuous air into their throats to keep them breathing normally. Many patients report that the mask is loud and uncomfortable, they aren't confident it will make a difference and they don't receive enough support during the treatment. These concerns prompt users to give up wearing it each night. Adherence rates to CPAP devices has remained low despite many efforts. In order to improve outcomes, it's imperative to upgrade the patient experience. 

"In order to improve outcomes, it's imperative to improve the patient experience."

Philips Respironics is using digital health to improve the experiences for patients using CPAP devices in order to drive up adherence. The approach is, as MDDI Online described, a "full-court press" of healthcare technology tools, including digital health apps, coaching and motivation during the early stages of CPAP use. These efforts are coordinated through the Patient Adherence Management System, or PAMS. 

The PAMS product family includes the CPAP devices, a patient engagement app, monitoring software and about 40 coaches who are available to answer patient questions over the phone. The patient experience plays a pivotal role in the success of the treatment. Key components of PAMS include:

  • Patient Outreach Protocol: A tool that delivers personalized messages of encouragement, delivered via emails, calls and text messages. 
  • Dream Family: A suite of tools that keeps sleep therapy patients engaged and promotes long-term use, including the DreamMapper patient engagement app and DreamStation positive airway pressure therapy system. 
  • Encore Anywhere: A data management system that identifies patients who are struggling with CPAP treatment. 

As Philips psychologist Mark Aloia told MDDI Online, "The real measure of the success of our products is how much you as a user believe in it, how much you as a user feel confident that you can use it and that it's meaningful to your health."

Since establishing the PAMS platforms, Philips has analyzed data and seen promising results: In the first 90 days of sleep therapy treatment, patients using PAMS have shown a 24 percent improvement in adherence during the first 90 days. Developing products and services that focus on improving the patient experience can yield more positive outcomes for patients, clinics and manufacturers. 

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