Verily Jumps Into Vast Sleep Apnea Market

Jared Kaltwasser

Google’s sister company hopes to reach patients who don’t know they have sleep apnea.

Google’s parent company is making a major investment in sleep apnea, hoping to tap into a market of 54 million people, most of whom don’t know they suffer from the condition.

Verily, a subsidiary of Alphabet, has announced a new joint venture with ResMed, a medical device and software company focused on sleep apnea.

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Emily Friedman, a spokesperson for Verily, told Healthcare Analytics News™ that what develops out of the joint venture will depend on what the new joint venture finds as it researches both the healthcare and financial implications of undiagnosed sleep apnea.

“The joint venture will begin by better understanding the current diagnosis landscape,” she said. “Based on our research, products and strategies could be developed for identifying at-risk individuals and helping tens of millions of Americans with untreated sleep apnea start their treatment journey.”

Verily has announced a number of projects and joint ventures in recent months, spanning a wide range of therapeutic areas, including a diabetes-focused partnership with Sanofi and a surgical instruments project with Johnson & Johnson.

ResMed is known for making a number of sleep-related technologies, including portable continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices, the most well-known therapy for sleep apnea. Beyond machines, though, the company is a cloud data analytics firm, with 5 million sleep-aid devices connected to the cloud, enabling physicians to remotely monitor patients and giving the company unique insights into sleep apnea in the real world.

Friedman says Verily hopes to leverage ResMed’s data and expertise and partner it with Verily’s software development and patient engagement capabilities.

Carlos M. Nunez, M.D., ResMed’s chief medical officer, said in a press release that the “vast majority” of people with sleep apnea are unaware they have the condition. Identifying and treating it could prevent a number of long-term health problems, like heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

“The combined industry expertise, scalable infrastructure and data analytics capabilities of ResMed and Verily can unlock meaningful ways to identify these individuals and support their journey to improved sleep, health and quality of life,” he said.

Friedman noted that there are already at-home products that can be used to help diagnose sleep apnea outside of a sleep laboratory setting.

“The key is to learn more about how and why approximately 80 percent of people with sleep apnea go undiagnosed and identifying those who should be screened and then tested,” she said.

Aside from finding ways to reach the untapped market of patients who don’t realize they have sleep apnea, Friedman said, the joint venture will also seek to identify inefficiencies and shortcomings of existing treatment strategies and products.

“Depending on the data collected and analysis, the joint venture will explore strategies for helping patients with untreated sleep apnea begin an effective treatment journey,” she said, adding that physicians, sleep labs and home medical equipment companies will all be a part of the new joint venture’s development process.

The new company will be based in the United States. It will operate as a standalone company, Verily and ResMed said.

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