What are the best ways for manufacturers to develop sleep and respiratory products that meet the standards of industry specialists? A good start comes from incorporating input from those who are active in the field of study.

RT spoke with Steve Bordewick, president and CEO, AEIOMed, Minneapolis, about the importance of using ideas and taking direction from specialists throughout the product development process.

RT: Why is customer-driven design important to the development of respiratory products?

Bordewick: Engineers are great at developing products, and they can be very creative in their design approach. We at AEIOMed are proud of our design originality. But we know that the best judges for our designs are the people who use them on a daily basis; their insights are what make our products appealing and useable. The more familiar you are with the customers’ needs, the more capable you are in developing the right products to meet those needs and thereby increasing compliance. We are committed to understanding and appreciating the occasional and everyday needs that sleep therapy users have. Our mission is to improve the lives of our customers with innovative products giving restful and restorative sleep.

RT: What impact does customer-driven design have on user satisfaction?

Bordewick: “If you build it, they will use it” is a twist on a line from the film Field of Dreams; however, we know the next phrase should be “and if they hate it, they won’t!” We believe that people diagnosed with sleep disordered breathing (SDB) very clearly understand the benefit that PAP therapy brings to them, but that doesn’t prevent a significant percentage of them from resisting or stopping treatment. Manufacturers’ claims alone won’t achieve user satisfaction. We pride ourselves on listening to user comments and including them in our designs. The unsolicited comments we receive reassure us that our interest in satisfied and compliant users is the result we are seeing in the field.

RT: What communication tools does AEIOMed use to maintain dialogue with its customer base and how can our readers share their product input with your company?

Bordewick: We have more than 40 manufacturer’s representatives in the field who are constantly working with sleep labs, physicians, and home care dealers; they are a great way to get your feedback back to the home office. Our new website has a tab labeled Contact Us. It allows you to send an e-mail directly to our marketing team. We’re happy to take phone calls and chat with people one on one, and we’re frequently at support group meetings for people with obstructive sleep apnea.

RT: What gives you optimism about the future of the respiratory therapy industry?

Bordewick: It seems that almost on a daily basis there is a new study that refers to the increased awareness and discovery of comorbidities that are linked to SDB. The number of people identified with asthma, diabetes, COPD, and/or CHF is escalating. The realization that the successful treatment of SDB can positively affect their overall health points to enormous opportunities for medicine and industry. We are enthusiastic about the discoveries that include proactive treatment for persons diagnosed with one or all of the metabolic syndrome disorders. AEIOMed has made a charter to commit resources and time to develop therapies that will help alleviate the constraints placed upon those who suffer from these diseases.