Covidien gets personal about sleep compliance

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Covidien may be a manufacturer, but company officials realize there’s more to boosting compliance among obstructive sleep apnea patients than improving CPAP devices and masks.

To that end, Boulder, Colo.-based Covidien launched the Sandman Alliance in October, a program that uses personal coaching to provide education, support and encouragement to OSA patients.

“If it’s all about innovation-just CPAP devices and masks-patients should be compliant by now,“ said Dave Giarracco, vice president of marketing for Covidien. “It’s about how the equipment gets used.”

Fewer than 50% of OSA patients continue therapy beyond the first week, according to company officials. Up to 25% of patients discontinue therapy within three years, they say.

As part of the program, each patient is linked with a sleep counselor. Counselors, physicians and homecare providers can track patient progress using a Web interface.

“If you can encourage patients and remind them, especially in their first year, ‘Go to bed with your mask on,’ their chances are better,” Giarracco said. “It’s a simple therapy, but it involves behavior changes-just like flossing your teeth.”

The program allows homecare providers to differentiate themselves in the eyes of physicians, Giarracco said. That’s not a bad idea, especially in a reimbursement environment that places greater value on compliance and data collection.

To launch the program, Covidien partnered with Indianapolis-based Assist Management, a sleep therapy management company.

The program is the manufacturer’s latest “Unite to Treat Sleep Apnea” initiative. A previous initiative: Covidien partnered with Sleep Pointe to station mobile sleep labs in truck stops across the country.