Helio Sleep (YC S21) – One-stop portal for sleep apnea

Hello HN! We’re Helio Sleep (https://www.heliosleep.com). We help treat sleep apnea at home using sleep tests, best-in-class treatment devices, and board-certified physicians. We prescribe and deliver medical equipment, so that patients can get care affordably and easily from their homes.

An estimated 30M Americans suffer from sleep apnea. Getting diagnosis, treatment devices, and ongoing support can be difficult, and is getting harder, because fewer physicians are practicing sleep medicine. There is a serious "conversion funnel" problem. 50% of patients give up before making it to a sleep specialist; of those that get to a sleep specialist, 50% don't get a sleep study; and of those that do get care, more than a third fail to continue within 6 months. As a result, 24M Americans are currently untreated, leaving them tired and also at risk for serious health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

Clearly, a lot more support is needed. That's our intention with Helio Sleep. We coordinate the care journey by connecting patients directly with sleep specialists, following up to make sure they have access to treatment, and coaching them to help them stay with it.

We encountered this problem repeatedly with family and friends who were having difficulties getting diagnosed and treated for sleep problems. Because of our backgrounds in digital health, we knew we could assemble a process to do something about it. We had previously worked at digital health companies including Medallion, Truepill, Counsyl, and Q Bio, building tools for patient education, telemedicine networks, pharmacy fulfillment, and automated reporting. We knew a lot about the difficulties of delivering and supporting prescription medical devices for at-home care.

One of the biggest challenges for such a solution is the complexity of the healthcare system. There are regulatory barriers to operating a provider network and a licensed durable medical equipment supplier. We also need to coordinate with payers and manufacturers. We’re building tools to coordinate all of these steps and provide a seamless experience.

Sleep apnea lies at the intersection of medical and dental treatment in the US, so due to US billing structures, patients typically aren't presented with all treatment options. There is a need for a sleep apnea 'portal' where everything relevant is addressed, and nothing major falls through the cracks.

At Helio Sleep, patients can self-refer or be referred through their medical or dental provider. They are evaluated for sleep apnea through a protocol-driven provider consult and a home sleep test. They then select from a range of evidence-driven therapies to treat their sleep apnea, and also their snoring if that’s needed. To help patients adhere to their treatments, we follow up with them, closely monitoring efficacy and adjusting care as required.

We went live at the end of February, offering consultations with licensed providers, home sleep tests interpreted by board-certified sleep physicians, and treatment devices including oral appliances and sleep positioners from industry-leading manufacturers, and we look forward to adding other treatment options including CPAP. We make money in an old-fashioned way by charging for diagnostic and treatment devices and for provider consults. We currently accept cash payment, and we’ll be adding insurance coverage. Getting medical care in the US is expensive, and we’re committed to finding ways to extend access to as many people as possible.

We’re excited to share what we’re working on and look forward to your thoughts! If you have or suspect you have sleep apnea, we’d be really interested to hear about any experiences that you’ve had in getting care. If you’re curious about your risk, one of the most widely used sleep apneas screeners is the STOP-BANG questionnaire. You can find a version of it here: https://www.heliosleep.com/quiz. And if you’re a healthcare professional, we’d be interested to hear about your experience with delivering care for patients. If anyone would prefer to reach out directly, we can be reached by email at [email protected] We look forward to your comments!

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andrey azimov by Andrey Azimov