A CPAP that travels

Thursday, July 14, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS - With the market for CPAP devices locked up tighter than Fort Knox, Somnetics knew it'd have to come up with something "dramatically different" to succeed.

Ralph Germscheid, who runs the company's North American division, thinks it has: the Transcend, a wearable and travel CPAP device.

"I have watched some big companies come and go in this market, which is still one of the fastest growing, most dynamic markets," said Germscheid, who used to run Puritan Bennett's sales operations for home care before it was acquired by Tyco. "It's very apparent that if you're going to get into this market you have to have something dramatically different or you will fail."

Somnetics launched the Transcend on a controlled basis in mid-January and on a more widespread basis in June. It added five HME providers to its network of dealers this month, for a total of 25.

So what differentiates the Transcend from other CPAP devices on the market? It's size (one-third smaller footprint), weight (less than 1 pound) and alternative power source (4-cell battery provides one night's sleep at average pressure; 8-cell battery, two) make it more portable, Germscheid says.

"We developed a CPAP that adjusts to users' lifestyles, not the other way around," he said. "Users constantly make decisions about, 'When I go camping, do I bring my CPAP?' or, 'When I go on a plane, do I bring my CPAP?' which is not good."

One other differentiator, Germscheid says: a small, hygienic heat moisture exchanger that replaces the traditional humidification chamber. (That's where much of the Transcend's size savings come from; a traditional humidification chamber doubles the size of a CPAP device, he says.)

Somnetics is positioning the Transcend to HME providers as a cash item that they can sell to their existing CPAP users. It offers them a turnkey marketing program that includes post cards, copy for newspaper and radio ads, and videos for their websites, Germscheid says.

"These existing users have already adopted the technology and now they're demanding something that adjusts to their lifestyles," he said. "Take their interface and adapt it to our technology. As long as the interface is compatible and you can take a credit card, you can give them the device and have them go live life to the fullest." HME