NEW BRIGHTON, MN – Consumer electronics seem to get smaller every year, so why not CPAP machines? Clarence Johnson, president and CEO of Somnetics International, saw the trends and applied them to the Transcend Sleep Apnea Therapy Portable CPAP System. The unit weighs less than a pound, which makes it highly portable.
“It also has the smallest, lightest, and most portable battery,” says Johnson, who relied on more than 25 years in the biotechnology industry prior to starting Somnetics 3 years ago. “These two things, in combination with the waterless humidification technology, will transform the way CPAP is delivered.”
Somnetics received FDA market clearance for the Transcend obstructive sleep apnea therapy device in July 2010. A little more than a year later, judges at the 2011 Medtrade show in Atlanta gave Transcend the Innovation Award for the product that best exemplifies high tech and state-of-the-art design.
With increased utilization of direct-to-patient marketing, the young company intends to partner with DME and sleep physicians to reach out to the installed base of existing CPAP users. “We also need to market to DMEs and sleep physicians,” adds Johnson. “We want them to know that we intend to partner with them to improve their retail sales with a small and innovative CPAP.”
Officials at Somnetics believe their product is ideal for DMEs and self dispensing sleep labs looking for a viable cash retail device. Accepting that the Transcend won’t likely be considered as a first-line therapy device any time soon, Johnson believes his product’s niche is currently the growing travel market.
“There is a big market for people who buy second CPAPs for travel,” he says. “We believe we can help create a bigger market there with our battery powered unit. For those interested in selling CPAPs for cash, we are a perfect partner. We will help market to your base, and give our customers all the marketing materials they need for free.
“We don’t want DMEs and sleep labs to add our device as a third- or fourth-entry primary device, because it will just sit on the shelf,” continues Johnson. “We think our first and best route to market is through patients who already have and understand CPAPs, and know what features they are looking for. Ultimately, patients will know about the device, and ask for it.”
For DMEs and self-dispensing sleep labs looking for cash sales, Transcend can attract customers looking for secondary travel devices. “Certainly Transcend is reimbursed like other CPAPs, so physicians can send patients to DMEs, and those DMEs can provide this as a primary device,” says Johnson. “And of course, when patients want to travel, they can do it. No other device is that convenient. Every other device is heavier, bulkier, bigger, and creates problems.”
Transcend can be carried and used on a flight, and as a medical device it does not count as a carry-on item. Sleep lab directors and DME providers should advise users to never check a sleep apnea therapy device with baggage because the chances for damage are high. “A doctor can provide a letter stating the user’s diagnosis and the need to carry and use the device on the plane, if necessary,” says Johnson. “Users should call the airline in advance to clarify procedures and in-flight policies.”