Since October 2006 ResMed has been enforcing controversial policies regarding the sale of CPAP equipment over the internet. While I believe the fine folks running the show at ResMed are acutely misguided on several issues - including basic economics - it's only fair for me to share with you the communications we receive from ResMed regarding this topic.
I think what you'll see in this letter from ResMed is a clear shifting of responsibility for patient compliance from the manufacturer, patient and physician (where the vast majority of the responsibility truly belongs) to the equipment supplier. ResMed believes equipment suppliers are the critical factor in patient compliance. While I'd like to think my company and I rank high on the importance factor in this regard, I know very well that CPAP equipment suppliers - both online and local brick-and-mortars - have a rather limited role in patient compliance.
Clearly, the most important factor in patient compliance is the manufacturer of CPAP equipment. Without CPAP equipment there would be no CPAP therapy, and without well-designed CPAP equipment patient compliance would be extremely low.
The next most important factor in CPAP compliance is the patient. The patient must be dedicated to finding the most suitable CPAP equipment for their CPAP therapy. CPAP equipment suppliers - like CPAP-Supply.com - can help patients find the right equipment, but it's not reasonable to think that every patient is going to find, for example, the perfect CPAP mask right from the start. There must be a willingness on the part of the patient to discover which equipment is most effective for them. Your chances of finding the right equipment don't get any better at a local brick-and-mortar CPAP supplier. Before starting this business with me, Mike here at CPAP-Supply.com purchased his equipment from a local supplier (Apria), and he needed to purchase five different masks before he found the one he liked. Companies like ResMed will have you believe that if you go to the local brick-and-mortar supplier you'll get a tremendous level of service and you'll be much more satisfied than if you purchase from an online supplier. This is simply not true. Our own experience along with the experiences shared by our customers tell us that the the service provided by local CPAP suppliers doesn't compare with our service. Further, local prices are generally three times higher.
After the patient, the next critical factor in CPAP compliance is the patient's physician. This is pretty straightforward. If a physician prescribes a therapy, he should be able to help the patient comply with the therapy.
The final factor in CPAP compliance is the equipment supplier. When a patient orders equipment from a CPAP supplier there's a pretty good chance of that patient not complying with CPAP therapy if the other compliance factors are neglected. Companies like ResMed should understand that if they are truly concerned about patient compliance vis-a-vis the level of service provided by CPAP equipment suppliers then they should create programs for patients and suppliers through which the patients benefit in some tangible way. For example, ResMed could start a mask trial program that would allow patients to try several masks for a couple of weeks and then choose the one they like the best. I don't know exactly how something like this would work, but I certainly haven't heard any ideas like this coming from the company that is claiming that patient compliance is their priority.
If patient compliance is in fact a priority for ResMed, and if ResMed truly believes they manufacture a compelling line of CPAP machines and CPAP masks, then I wonder why ResMed wants to price their equipment right out of the market. It seems to me the only reason a company would artificially raise their prices 40% is for profit, not for compliance.
Now that I've finished editorializing, let's get onto the most recent letter we've received from ResMed regarding their new internet selling policies.
Subject: ResMed's Internet Selling and Advertising Policies
December 11, 2006
Dear Valued ResMed Customer,
This letter is intended for the Owner, Business Manager and Purchasing Manager. We ask that you please circulate it to the other members of your organization after you've had a chance to read it.
Effective October 1, 2006, ResMed implemented new, more restrictive policies (including minimum retail prices) regarding the sale of its products over the internet. ResMed's internet policies are designed to promote patient care and the valuation of HME services. Enclosed with this letter you will find a brochure that highlights our internet policies and our views on the importance of patient care.
Many clinical studies have demonstrated how important patient care is to compliance and long-term patient outcomes. Decreased patient care leads to decreased compliance, which ultimately hurts patients. Without compliance and long-term outcomes for patients, there would be a lot less opportunity for growth in our industry. Our internet policies are just one example of how we are working to develop and grow the industry for businesses like yours. ResMed appreciates your cooperation with our policies, and we'd value your support of ResMed if you believe that ResMed's policies reflect your thoughts and business practices.
As a reminder, ResMed prohibits the sale of its products to anyone other than a patient with a prescription. We have been informed of non-authorized internet sellers attempting to purchase ResMed products from sleep labs and HMEs in violation of our policies and contracts. If anyone at your organization has been solicitated to resell products to anyone other than a patient, we ask that you report it immediately by contacting us at 1-800-424-0737 extension 2246.
ResMed's internet policies require written authorizations and a successful evaluation for internet sales. If you are interested in representing ResMed products on the internet, please contact your ResMed Sales Representative for more information.
We believe that these policies are in the best interest of providing high-quality patient care contributing to improved long-term outcomes for patients and preserving the valuation of HME services. As a ResMed customer, we hope to continue to find ways to make your business more profitable and efficient while emphasizing better patient care; our internet policies are designed to do just that.
Sales Operations Manager, ResMed Corp
As a CPAP user, you've heard what's going on with ResMed. You be the judge.
CPAP-Supply.com is a leading online retailer of CPAP equipment. Located in Spokane, WA CPAP-Supply.com has been serving thousands of customers around the world since 2001. Founded on a belief that patients are their own best primary care providers, CPAP-Supply.com understands the importance of educating patients and customers on both the effects of and treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. For more information visit CPAP-Supply.com or call toll free 1-888-955-2727.