Having trouble getting your CPAP mask to fit? Ongoing leak? Finding you just can’t quite get the ideal mask? Apnea-Seal may help.
Getting a good fit and seal with a CPAP mask is one of the keys to using CPAP successfully. Apnea-Seal have a novel solution that adapts your existing mask to fit you exactly allowing a better fit with less leak. Dr David Cunnington, sleep physician, talks with Darren Churchill, managing director, of Apnea-Seal about the Apnea-Seal CPAP mask adaptor.
Related posts & links:
- Apnea-Seal – product web site (Australia-based)
- SleepHub’s sleep apnea page
- Treatment options for sleep apnea – video
- Snoring treatments – blog post
- What’s new in snoring and sleep apnea? – blog post
- What is sleep apnea? – blog post
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David Cunnington: I’m here with Darren Churchill from Apnea-Seal and Darren, lots of my patients have trouble with their sleep apnea mask, finding it just doesn’t quite fit and they try lots of different masks and you’ve got a solution for that problem. So what is it?
Darren Churchill: Yeah, we do indeed. Thank you. We do quite a lot of research into the sleep apnea market and found ourselves that non-compliance was indeed very high and we as a company started to scratch a little further and see was there a way that we could evolve a technology that enabled us to provide a custom solution on masks.
There has been a number of companies that have tried in the past to develop a custom solution and through manual methods like plaster and alginate type plaster casting, you can do that. But it’s very difficult to be able to provide that to the masses at a reasonable price. So we studied a number of technologies that enabled us to see whether or not one, we could get the level of accuracy that was required to be able to make a custom mask that would fit well, that would seal well, that would be really comfortable and provide real benefits to the patient, and then whether we had the ability to do that on a scale.
So we developed in time a photogrammetry procedure that enabled us to take a very accurate and easy capture of the patient’s nasal area to be able to move that through the technology gateways to then produce what’s known as an Apnea-Seal. So behind you here, there is a photogrammetry studio, which is the methodology we choose to use to capture the patient’s details and quite simply it’s just a series of photographs that are taken and those photographs convert through to a point cloud and then through a couple of different software programs that we’ve developed through to a CAD file and then to a printed product.
David Cunnington: What happens with that product? How does that work with the patient’s existing mask?
Darren Churchill: So I guess key to our success was not necessarily manufacturing and designing our own mask. But for the patient, most of them, particularly the non-compliant patients, they already have a mask or in many instances, they have four or five masks and I guess for us that became evident through a lot of trial that we did with an initial patient group and we found that it wasn’t uncommon for patients to have up to four or five masks that they had been in trial in to try and become compliant and yet that was still failing.
One of the most common issues was air leakage up into the eyes. A number of leak in different places but up into the eyes seems to cause considerable problems for the patient. So we thought if we could design and adapt to that fit with existing sleep apnea masks, that was probably a better solution for the patient because it would be more cost-effective, one; and secondly, we won’t necessarily then go in head to head with what you could call our competitors because our patients would still need to buy our mask if they were nearly diagnosed or they would still have a mask from one of those competitive masks.
So for us, we thought if we could design something that had the ability to work with existing masks that was better for the market and easier for us as well.
David Cunnington: What’s the workflow? So if somebody says, “Yeah, I like this idea. I want to look into it,” what should they do?
Darren Churchill: They simply book in for what we call our facial capture which is the process that involves this particular studio here. Once we know exactly what type of mask the patient uses or would like to use, whether it be a pillow or whether it be a nasal or whether it be a full-faced mask, then we book them in for a simple facial capture, which takes about 15 minutes of the patient’s time and then the patients go away. Our engineers go to work and then take that through the design and production gateways. We come out with a device that looks something like this. The patient comes back in for a fitting, about a 15-minute process and then off they go. It’s as simple as that.
David Cunnington: Right. And what’s the ballpark cost that they should expect?
Darren Churchill: Between $400 and $500 end to end is the cost to the patient and that’s inclusive of a money-back guarantee if we can’t get it right. Our belief is being a custom technology, we need to stand behind our product, so a money-back guarantee if we can’t get it right for the patient.
David Cunnington: And certainly people will spend that amount of money on multiple sleep masks, $250 or $300 a mask. You pretty quickly are spending more than that.
Darren Churchill: Yeah. The major players’ average mask price is about $285. So I agree. You know, two masks and you have one of these adaptors and the reality is too that whilst we haven’t proven out the life of this yet, it’s highly likely that they will last for many years we believe. So the replacement cost for the patient down the track in a highly un-rebated market within Australia is such that this should also become cost-effective for the patients as well.
David Cunnington: Great. Thanks a lot Darren.
Darren Churchill: You’re most welcome. Thank you.