Two Industry Veterans form a New Company and Release an Internet Insomnia Treatment Program
We recently caught up with sleep industry veteran Michael Clark to see what he had to say about his latest business venture, “Somnio” a clinically validated drug free approach for the treatment of insomnia. Michael has worked in the medical field for the last 35 years and has been directly involved in the development and marketing of many industry leading neuro and sleep diagnostic systems and sleep management software products.
WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN UP TO LATELY?
For the last year and a half, I stepped away from the industry side of sleep and assumed a marketing and business development role with Sleep Management Centers www.sleepmanagementcenters.com in Fort Myers, Florida. My primary responsibilities were to market the sleep center for new patient referrals and diversify the centers services. It was a sobering experience to see firsthand the magnitude of physician ignorance towards sleep disorders in our southwest Florida medical community. Many primary care physicians openly admitted they were not doing a good job screening patients for sleep disorders. Most stated their practice was too busy to allow for any type of paper screening questionnaires for sleep apnea. Several physicians even disclosed themselves; they had sleep apnea but would not go for a sleep study, or refused to use their CPAP machines. In addition to dealing with sleep apnea, there was also no alternative for physicians in treating chronic insomnia patients other than regularly prescribing prescription sleeping aids.
WE UNDERSTAND YOU FORMED A NEW COMPANY WITH AND OLD SLEEP COLLEAGUE
At last year’s APSS meeting in Seattle, I met with international sleep expert Anand Kumar and discussed past times when we worked together at Medcare Diagnostics (purchased by Flaga and renamed Embla). Anand and his wife, Dr. Winni Hofman from Amsterdam, founded Medcare in the early 90s and put together the original development team that created Rembrandt, a worldwide leading sleep diagnostic system. Released in 1997, Rembrandt was the first commercially available windows-based sleep system, and the first to offer high speed synchronized digital video. After leaving in 2005 to pursue other interests, they formed a new company called Personal Health Institute International “PHIi” dedicated to next gen- eration solutions for personalized medicine that include home based monitoring and health management. This also included the development of advanced software programs focusing on internet insomnia therapy. At this meeting in Seattle we decided to join forces and form a new company called Health Monitoring Corporation to co-develop and exclusively market PHIi products worldwide.
WHAT DIRECTION ARE YOU TAKING THE NEW COMPANY?
We see a significant opportunity to provide the sleep field with an alternative to prescription drugs for treating insomnia. Insomnia is the most prevalent of all sleep disorders, but it has never received the attention compared to the more popular problem of sleep apnea. Experts estimate up to 70 million Americans suffer from some form of insomnia and health care costs associated with insomnia total $42 billion each year. There is now substantial clinical evidence that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the most effective treatment for insomnia. This was further recognized in 2005 when the National Institute of Health established that CBT is the most effective long-term solution for insomnia. PHIi also realized from years of their own research that combining CBT techniques with an interactive, decision making computer program would provide a much more accessible and cost effective method for treating chronic insomnia patients.
HOW DOES THIS INTERNET INSOMNIA TREATMENT PROGRAM WORK?
The program is called Somnio which means to “dream with vision” in Latin. It is internet-based, providing access to a structured 8-week treatment program that has been proven to have over an 80% cure rate for chronic insomnia. The core of the program is designed around a Knowledge–Based Expert Engine (K-BEE) software algorithm 30 years in the making. It combines proven CBT methods with rule-based decision making to structure a highly effective insomnia treatment program that interacts directly with the patient. Web site visitors are encouraged to complete a multiple question “sleep interview” which is used to automatically generate an individual sleep profile. This profile will indicate with high probability if they are suffering from the symptoms of insomnia and should con- sider Somnio treatment. Once enrolled, they begin the 8-session program by completing a sleep diary as they progress through each week. During the program Somnio will identify sleep patterns, help break habits that cause insomnia, educate how to improve sleep hygiene, and guide the patient back to restoring a healthy sleep cycle.
HAS THE SOMNIO PROGRAM BEEN CLINICALLY VALIDATED?
Somnio was released into the European market in 2005, making it the first commercially available internet insomnia treatment program. Since then, thousands have benefited from Somnio treatment supporting the consistency of an over 80% cure rate. This was determined by monitoring the clinical progress of all patients on a weekly basis to evaluate the effect of the treatment. An example of this validation was a paper presented at last year’s APSS in Seattle that demonstrated, when compared to conventional face-to-face CBT, patients completing the 8-week Somnio program showed comparable improvements in sleep efficiency, total sleep time, sleep latency, and wake after sleep onset. In other words, not only is the program successful in treating insomnia, but also in some cases it is more effective than traditional CBT methods.
HOW DOES A SLEEP LAB BENEFIT FROM THE SOMNIO PROGRAM?
Somnio now provides an opportunity for any sleep testing facility to offer an internet insomnia therapy program, and benefit from the increased revenue generated by patients enrolling in the program. The software is licensed to a sleep lab on a yearly basis with no limit to the number of patients that can register for treatment. Participants are charged a nominal fee for the 8-week program, with the majority of this revenue going back to the sleep lab. Each sleep center will be set up with an individual web site with their own logo or identification on the home page. This web site will appear to visitors as operated by the sleep lab, but it is actually a fixed Somnio site running in the background with a custom home page and local web site address. Patients can be directed to the site by the center’s physicians or from established referring medical practices. The site can also be marketed to the local community using a variety of advertising media, including print, radio, TV spots, and other social web site links.
WHAT FUTURE HEALTH MONITORING PRODUCTS ARE YOU PLANNING?
In addition to the Somnio based therapy programs, PHIi is also developing technology that can wirelessly monitor a number of physiological parameters over an extended period of time. One such project with a European Union consortium of researchers is to determine which parameters are best suited to predict an individual’s biological clock. The results will be used to develop long term monitoring, wireless, wearable devices capable of assisting people to adapt to their own circadian clock. This will benefit shift workers, time zone travelers, and individuals with high stress occupations to better cope with day-to-day situations. This technology will also be utilized in personal health terminals designed to monitor a wide range of physiological parameters in the home environment. These health terminals will have the capability to monitor a patient 24 hours a day, streaming information to medical professionals to better manage health wellness and reduce hospital days. On a smaller scale much of this technology will be adapted to smart phone applications, further increasing the ability to monitor health from a distance. For more information visit www.MyHealthMonitoring.com.
With a background of bio-medical engineering Michael Clark has been in the medical field for over 35 years. He has spent the last 20 years in sleep medicine and has been directly involved with the development, marketing and sales of a number of industry leading sleep diagnostic and lab management products