HomeLifestyleHealthHow HealthKeeperz Is Helping Patients Weather CPAP Shortages

How HealthKeeperz Is Helping Patients Weather CPAP Shortages

For millions of people with sleep apnea, a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device isn’t just about stopping snoring so other people in the home can sleep. This condition causes a person to stop breathing many times throughout the night. It can lead to serious mental and physical health conditions like cognitive decline, dementia, mood problems, high blood pressure, and Type 2 diabetes.

Since the start of the pandemic, this vital medical device has become harder to acquire and, in some cases, more expensive — putting patients and their families in a tough situation.

Pembroke, North Carolina-based health care company HealthKeeperz has found itself in a unique position to support patients through this difficult time, finding a savvy way to juggle business with patient needs to navigate a supply chain crisis — something at which HealthKeepers President Tim Brooks excels.

“I really enjoy thinking about the big problems facing the health care industry today,” Brooks told IdeaMensch. “For instance, I’m thinking a lot about new health care structures that focus on access to care, cost of care, quality of care, and the experience of care (customer experience). Addressing these issues means health care leaders will have to leave the silos we’ve become so comfortable in and think more holistically about people and the care we want to provide. I see HealthKeeperz as a real tool to address these issues and drive real change in the home health space.”

For right now, HealthKeeperz is focusing on what it can impact  — patient comfort.

How the Pandemic Caused a CPAP Shortage

Sleep apnea was already on the rise, so too was the number of people needing CPAPs. On top of this, CPAPs are constantly exposed to moisture and natural wear and tear, so they must be replaced every five or so years. At the same time, pandemic-related supply chain issues, particularly microchip shortages, have limited the number of CPAPs companies can make in a given time. As a result, it currently can take up to five months to get a new CPAP machine.

Home care and medical equipment companies like HealthKeeperz and its patients have to find creative ways to avoid the risks of untreated sleep apnea.

Many patient advocates have encouraged microchip manufacturers to prioritize medical equipment. But because these chips are also needed for business and household electronics, the demand is still not being met.

It’s uncertain how long this will last. But HealthKeeperz’s leaders believe the shortage may continue into next year and beyond. They’d like to see microchip production move to the United States to reduce its dependence on foreign chip producers.

Solutions-Focused Thinking in the Post-Pandemic World

Throwing hands up and complaining in the face of supply shortages isn’t constructive. HealthKeeperz has seen firsthand that being proactive and focused on solutions does more for patients.

One of the strategies it’s used in issuing travel CPAP to patients while they await regular units. These units don’t have some advanced functions like humidity regulation, but they do recycle the moisture in breathed air to allow the patient to breathe more comfortably.

Sadly, HealthKeeperz has seen that some patients have been trying to buy used CPAPs. This is generally a bad idea; the device comes in contact with human saliva and can harbor bacteria, mold, and mildew, and the prospective buyer doesn’t know how well the previous owner cleaned or maintained it. Pathogens are particularly bad for someone who already has breathing problems.

In the face of inflation, patients struggling to pay for a new unit may find that financial resources and other community support are available.

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Why Sleep Matters

There’s no way around it: Study after study shows that prolonged poor sleep causes serious health problems. And people with sleep apnea cannot get a good night’s sleep because they stop breathing at night, sometimes several times an hour.
Sleep must be prioritized as a part of good health. And CPAP is an important part of the solution. Family-based companies like HealthKeeperz get creative to support patients when it’s needed. Says Brooks, ““We want to be sure people are healthy at home. Our job is to oversee their care and make sure health care services are being provided, and there is some sense of well-being for these people we care for.”

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