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Close-up: Drew Terry

ResMed director develops iPhone app to diagnose common sleep disorder

Drew Terry, senior director of product marketing for respiratory care at ResMed, did not start off in the medical devices industry, but is glad he has ended up there because it allows him to engage with what drives him – innovation.

His professional background includes stints at Hewlett Packard as a design engineer, working with software and network systems companies. Studying at MIT prepared Terry to drive innovation from both design and business perspectives. Joining ResMed five years ago was a chance for this Salt Lake City, Utah native to “blend an interest in physiology and health with an interest in design and marketing cutting-edge products.”

Fundamentally, he and his team at ResMed (NYSE: RMD) are focused on “new ways of making treatment better for patients.” According to Terry, the speed of innovation within the medical devices industry is rapidly increasing, beginning to remind him of the fast pace that has characterized how the information technology sector has evolved. New devices, new features, changing ways to communicate with and engage patients, and even changing healthcare legislation are all coming down the pipeline.

Navigating this rapidly changing environment requires a leader who is excited and invigorated by change, and Terry fits the bill.

Drew Terry

ResMed’s recent development of a sleep apnea application for the iPhone is a terrific example of a product that leverages the widespread use of wireless technology to help individuals be proactive in taking care of their own health.

By downloading this free application, iPhone users concerned about sleep quality can conduct an initial assessment of the likelihood that they have, or will develop, a sleep disorder. The application allows users to record their sleep sounds, compare those sounds to recordings of known sleep apnea snores, complete a clinically-validated questionnaire that helps identify sleep disorders and even get referrals to registered sleep labs in the area.

According to Terry, the application was developed because “a lot of people have concerns about sleep quality and breathing, but don’t really know where to start.”

From a business perspective, the sleep apnea application enables ResMed to introduce the company’s brand and position itself as a sleep apnea resource “from the very beginning of the patient journey.” From a more personal perspective, Terry notes that the application might even help facilitate a conversation about a sticking point in many marriages – snoring!

ResMed's new free iPhone app, which can help diagnose sleep apnea.

Looking ahead, Terry notes that one of the most critical forces shaping medical device development in the years ahead will be “patients that are more involved, better educated and more attuned to healthcare costs.” Widespread availability of healthcare information on the internet and changes in both federal healthcare legislation and the healthcare delivery system are motivating consumers to become more proactive in assuming responsibility for their health.

For companies developing medical devices, this means continuing to explore new ways to engage patients as partners, and recognizing that the debate about healthcare costs will likely influence the medical device industry in the years ahead.

Terry is up for the challenge and he considers himself lucky to be able to work on this challenge from an unbeatable San Diego setting. Embracing the work hard, play hard ethic, Terry enjoys filling his weekends with cycling up the 101 and spending time at the soccer field with his two children. And as the outgoing president of the MIT alumni group in San Diego, he relishes the chance to stay engaged with a dynamic group of peers who have landed in sunny Southern California. “Every time I land at the airport, I smile because San Diego is such a terrific place to call home.”

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