Breaking the Mold: The New Hurricane CPAP Equipment Dryer – David Kasso

When David Kasso, co-founder of Siestamed Technologies, Camarillo, Calif, went looking for an inexpensive machine to efficiently dry CPAP supplies, he found nothing. After growing tired of seeing supplies drip drying on IV poles and over doors, he decided to do something about it. The result was the Hurricane, a drying system specifically designed for the space and financial limitations of sleep centers. With the product now available on the market, we had a conversation with one of the co-founders of Siestamed Technologies to learn more about the Hurricane and the rationale behind it.

What was the genesis of the Hurricane Dryer?

The dryer began as a concept I identified while managing a sleep center for the last 9 years. I watched lab technicians sanitize our products and hang-dry equipment on doors, hooks, and IV poles. I witnessed frustration from the sleep technologists when trying to get the supplies dry in a timely manner. It had always bothered me for years how inefficient and messy it was to hang dry CPAP supplies out in plain sight. You could spend tens of thousands of dollars on hospital-type sanitation equipment and heavy-duty wall dryers, but these costs are hard to justify in a market of decreasing reimbursement and high sleep centers management costs. There was no inexpensive option to dry these products on a daily basis.

I finally decided about 3 years ago that there should be a dryer unit developed that would be simple, cost effective, and allow a person to place their supplies in it, push a button, and walk away—and items would be dry in an hour or less.

Why is the Hurricane Dryer so unique?

There really is not an existing product that is specifically designed to dry CPAP supplies and testing equipment. This dryer has a patent pending, and the patent specifically defines

the product as a CPAP supply dryer for CPAP supplies including masks, headgears, tubing and other sleep testing items such as respiratory effort belts. There is not a similar product on the market, with the exception of large, heavy and expensive dryer systems which are intended for hospital respiratory departments; These systems are big, bulky and typically cost thousands of dollars.

It is a first of its kind. With the introduction of the dryer and after beta testing it in various sleep labs and also showing the unit at recent sleep meetings, the most common feedback is, “it’s about time somebody designed a dryer for sleep labs that is reasonably priced and dries the supplies without having to hang products over doors and IV poles.”

I have even talked to technicians who have gotten into trouble at hospitals for hanging their stuff over doors, because it is just such an unsanitary way of drying supplies. So there really is no competition at this point and we are hoping to keep it that way with the patent.

Why should a sleep lab use the Hurricane Dryer?

It is a much more efficient method for drying CPAP supplies while freeing up more space in a sleep center due to its relatively small size. Hanging CPAP masks, hoses, and CPAP headgear over the tops of doors, on IV poles and laying supplies out on counters exposes them to the environment as well as making the sleep center look messy.

Sleep centers will really benefit because they can wash and sanitize their products, place the supplies in the dryer unit, connect the CPAP hoses to the specialized hose-dryer outlets, push a button, close the lid, and walk away. Within an hour the items are dry, and the dryer turns itself off when the timer setting expires. It is easy to lift the lid up the next night, pull the CPAP supply items out, bag and tag the supplies, and either store the cleaned CPAP supplies or use them on patients that night. Any one who has seen the result of improperly cleaned and dried CPAP masks and hoses can tell you about the green fuzz or black gunk which tends to cultivate in the hose and mask’s nooks and crannies. CPAP therapy is a direct highway to your respiratory tract, and the last thing you want to be exposed to is microorganisms from CPAP masks and hoses that aren’t properly cleaned and dried on a contiguous basis.

What other advantages are there for a sleep lab that uses a Hurricane Dryer?

An important advantage to a sleep center utilizing the Hurricane, is as a tool for dispensing CPAP equipment. One of the biggest failures in providing patients with a CPAP machine and mask for home use occurs during the patient set-up process. Typically a patient will come to the sleep center to meet with a clinician for delivery and instruction of their home CPAP device, and the patient is generally fitted with the mask-model which was used on the night of the sleep study. In most cases, the clinician will not allow the patient to sample and try on other masks because every time a new mask is opened out of the packaging, it cannot be re-sold to another patient. It is very common that a new CPAP user will go through several different model CPAP interfaces before finding the right one which allows for better comfort and compliance. The sleep center loses money every time a mask is dispensed in this “honey moon” period because third party payors do not typically cover the costs of multiple interfaces in such short a period. With the Hurricane, the sleep center can have a large assortment of sample masks which the patient can try on during the CPAP set-up. After the patient has found what seems to be the “right” mask and size, the clinician can immediately disinfect the dirtied interfaces, throw them in the dyer, and in about an hour, the fitting samples are ready for the next patient coming in for a CPAP set-up appointment. This is a service which will dramatically improve efficiency in CPAP dispensing. DME companies should follow this same business model to help improve their patient care and keep costs down. Every sleep center and DME company should have the Hurricane dryer as part of their CPAP dispensing program.

Will the Hurricane Dryer affect and/or improve patient care?

I do think in a small way it can improve patient care by making a sleep center more efficient. In the morning, technicians might spend a little more time with their patients before going home because they know the cleaning and drying of their supplies is going to be shortened by this product. They can dry the equipment before they leave the shift. Then, the next time they come in to the lab, they are not hooking up hoses to a CPAP machine trying to get the equipment dry before they put a patient to bed. The time saved could be spent with the patient explaining the procedure and explaining sleep apnea syndrome and it’s treatment. Also, now the sleep technologist can really emphasize the importance of cleaning and drying CPAP supplies, while utilizing the Hurricane Home Edition, which is the patient version for home use.

What level of user input from Healthcare professionals went into the design and development of the Hurricane?

The first prototype was beta tested at several sleep centers. The personnel at the sleep centers gave us feedback on questionnaires regarding the unit’s ease of use and typical drying times needed to get CPAP supplies dried. We allowed a sleep physician who personally uses CPAP, to try it at home. The responses from these users helped us tweak and improve certain features. Our testing was great, as it really allowed us to understand the need for such a device. MVAP Medical Supplies Inc. out of Newbury Park, California, was also very instrumental in the design and performance as the prototypes were built. Their management team contributed valuable insight into the customers’ needs and expectations of a CPAP supply drying device. MVAP Medical Supplies, Inc. is a highly respected distributor of sleep and neurology products, and will be our partner in distribution of the Hurricane. The only downside from beta testing was, the sleep labs who tested the unit, really wanted it back due to it’s great performance and ease of use, and in some cases, were already making room on their counter for the dryer even though final production was months away.

What are the mechanics of the professional Sleep Center Edition and Home Edition’ versions?

We have taken existing technology and repackaged it into a gentle static drying device. If you’ve read the instructions for CPAP supplies, a lot of the time it will say, “do not throw into a dishwasher, clothes washer or clothes dryer. We took the simple process of gently blowing warm air in an enclosed cabinet around the product for about an hour at a time without excessive heat or subjecting the CPAP supplies to mechanically moving parts. For example, a clothes dryer typically works using very high heat and tumbling which would destroy a CPAP mask and headgear in a short amount of time.

The Hurricane is really a warm air dryer enclosed on a timer with safety features to keep it from overheating. There are optional timer settings and when there is only one or two items to dry you can select the 15 or 30-minute setting.

The product will be available in July 2009, and already demand is high. I don’t think I have had one person negatively comment on the device. They have been thankful that a company has developed a CPAP supply dryer, and cannot believe how inexpensive it is at $500. We really tried to keep the sleep center edition at around $500, to keep this as a cost efficient product for healthcare organizations.

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