Interview: Adam Benjafield, Ph.D., Vice President of Medical Affairs, ResMed
(American Thoracic Society 2018 – Global Prevalence of Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Adults: Estimation Using Currently Available Data) Click Here for ATS Journals Abstract
Question 1. Why do you think the scope of the OSA problem was underestimated for so long?
Answer: Technology has vastly improved our ability to detect OSA, manage and support OSA patients through long-term adherence, and also gauge more accurately the prevalence of the disease. The fact that nearly 1 billion people worldwide have sleep apnea – 85 percent of which are undiagnosed – demonstrates the need for more awareness, and for doctors to diagnose this condition in patients earlier. Sleep apnea has long been a public health concern, but when the prevalence rate goes up nearly tenfold, so should our collective sense of urgency.
Question 2. How influential could this study be in the effort to regulate the trucking/professional travel industry?
Answer: This study encourages expanded awareness worldwide about sleep apnea, which cuts across age groups, genders, and every industry and occupation. ResMed welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with industry leaders on solutions for assessing and improving their workers’ sleep health for their safety and the safety of others. We do not speculate or recommend what regulations should be enforced regarding those solutions.
Question 3. How willing are clinicians to work with DME providers to facilitate remote monitoring and mask re-supply in an effort to boost compliance?
Answer: I expect clinicians to be quite willing. These new studies, presented at the same conference as the “global prevalence” one, add further evidence to claims that remote monitoring and automated mask resupply programs increase patients’ short- and long-term therapy adherence, and reduce the number of patients who will terminate their clinically beneficial therapy.
Question 4. What were the biggest surprises (if any) among the results?
Answer: Although we anticipated seeing a positive impact on PAP adherence when patients subscribed to mask resupply, we didn’t expect this significant of a benefit. Throughout our experience in the healthcare technology space we continue to find that automating features improves both patient and HME use. Automating resupply isn’t any different; it ensures that patients receive fresh PAP mask supplies, have more success on their PAP therapy and are less likely to terminate therapy within the first year.
Question 5. What is the next logical topic for study to build on these results?
Answer: There will be a greater focus on other drivers of long-term adherence (one year and beyond). Also, better phenotyping patients into sub-groups to forecast their therapy behavior and help them take advantage of mask resupply programs and other adherence drivers to improve health outcomes.