Executive's Corner

Awakening Better Sleep Through Digital Experiences: How a Global Leader In Sleep Health Is Empowering Customers To Improve Their Sleep Online

Matt Shaw / 7 min read

Awakening Better Sleep Through Digital Experiences: How a Global Leader In Sleep Health Is Empowering Customers To Improve Their Sleep Online

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Sleep science has come a long way in the past few decades.

When ResMed first got its roots, sleep science was relatively in its infancy. Back then, if you were constantly tired, you would have just worn it as a badge of honor. If you snored, you’d be sent to sleep on the couch. Needless to say, this could still be the case for many.

Today, ResMed is recognized as a global pioneer in the development of treatments for a range of sleep and breathing conditions.

It sells products in more than 140 countries and employs more than 7500 people. It is also is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) and is valued at around US $20 billion (AUD $30 billion).

Millions of people use our industry-leading products, apps and cloud software to manage their sleep and other respiratory conditions.

Fighting Availability and Awareness of the Third Pillar of Health

Just a few months ago, a study published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine — one of the world’s leading medical journals — suggested as many as one billion people may have a condition known as sleep apnea. Less than 20 percent of these are receiving treatment.

In Australia, that means close to 3 million people are not getting the help and sleep they need to live a healthy life. ResMed’s aim is to increase the awareness around these sleep issues as well as the solutions that will help.

Of course, there is more to sleep health than sleep apnea.

The medical community has recently grown to understand the importance of sleep. It is now widely considered the ‘third pillar of health’ alongside diet and exercise.

And just like a poor diet or lack of exercise, poor sleep health can have short- and long-term effects:

  1. It can lead to an increased risk of developing physical health problems.
  2. It can contribute to mental health problems.
  3. It’s estimated to cause 3000 deaths a year in Australia alone.

In a recent ResMed-led survey in Australia, almost half of those questioned said they had trouble sleeping three or more nights per week.

res med stat

Four in ten said they did not regularly get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per night most people need for good health.

When someone thinks there is something wrong with their body, one of their first courses of action is to hop onto an online search.

Looking for health or medical information is one of the most popular activities online.

At least 5 percent, if not more, of all Google searches are health-related.

The New Face of Health Is Digital

More and more global consumers are starting to seek out answers to health concerns online.

While the digital channels may be different between regions, consumer intent is largely the same. For example, the condition of sleep apnea is the same whether you’re in Sydney, Singapore, Munich or San Diego. But the way people access treatment varies from country to country depending on their health care systems.

In Australia, Medicare (a government-funded health insurance scheme) may cover diagnosis fees, but will not cover sleep apnea treatment. A lot of people will need to pay for treatment solutions out of their own pocket. Because of this, many should feel empowered in their sleep health journey. They should have access to personalized help and care that is tailored for them.

The average Australian is now more aware of their general health than ever before – and more conscious of influences on it like diet and exercise. Awareness of the importance of sleep in maintaining good health is growing, but still comparatively low.

For example, it’s still quite common to humble-brag about getting by on only a few hours of sleep. It is far less common to hear people boasting about skipping a workout or eating poorly.

We’re schooled from an early age to see diet and exercise as things we need to manage to have good health, but, with sleep, many of us feel we need to make do with whatever we can get.

So, the first and largest barrier is awareness — of sleep issues, and of the fact that it may be something you can treat.

Online content provides a great way to not only reach and connect with this growing interest but also engage and convert.

Unfortunately, the information is rarely in one place. While many people are self-educating themselves on sleep health, there’s no guarantee the picture they are getting is complete, accurate or relevant.

At ResMed, we want to grow the sleep health industry and make it easier for people to access the help they require. We want to create a new and complementary way to address a shared problem: the number of people in Australia with untreated sleep health problems.

A few years ago, a study estimated poor sleep cost Australia AUD $66.3 billion.3 Six months ago, a parliamentary committee recommended the Government make sleep health a national priority. Its importance to health and wellbeing is as crucial as fitness and nutrition.

res med stat 1

Our General Manager for Australia and New Zealand, Catherine Delamare, firmly believes ResMed is in a unique position to do something about this.

“Poor sleep is a serious and common problem,” Delamare said. “Almost half of us don’t get the amount of sleep we need, and that affects our health, as well as our families and the community.”

“But it doesn’t need to be this way. Many sleep issues are treatable. We want more people to be aware of the options when they have sleep health questions and to make it easier to access the existing treatments.”

ResMed was founded to give back a good night’s sleep to people who’d been robbed of it by sleep apnea. In learning to help people manage sleep apnea better, we’ve discovered an incredible amount about sleep generally and have advanced sleep science within the medical community.

But after 30 years, we are very aware that the number of people with untreated sleep problems is going up, not down. Thanks to Catherine’s vision for ResMed Australia and New Zealand, we think it’s time for a new approach – one that uses digital channels to attract and raise awareness and engagement.

With our new consumer direction and website, we were able to accomplish that.

Bringing It All Together with a Tailored Website Experience

Our team in Australia is proactively looking to help tackle a range of general sleep health conditions beyond sleep apnea.

A large part of this initiative is in the way we present ourselves – online and offline.

ResMed’s new “Awaken Your Best” direction in Australia has introduced an awareness campaign to focus the audience’s attention on their sleep health. It also delivers a new look for our retail stores and new online resources.

We have implemented a strategy to make ResMed.com.au a destination for people looking to understand more about sleep health. The site will help them to identify their sleep health challenges and learn about what treatment options might be available.

Another common problem we have looked to solve is that a web search isn’t a tailored experience. Type in the same search six months apart and you may see the same results. Your knowledge, experience and intent, however, may have changed, and so the results may be less relevant to you.

The new ResMed website attempts to close the loop. Using tools like cookies, it will tailor the information offered to you based on your site history, the topics you’ve already looked at, and hence, where you might be on your sleep health journey.

resmed website

Most important, our overall digital strategy is designed to have no dead-ends.

Every part incorporates a next step. So regardless of the landing page (e.g., a blog article on sleep tips or an ecommerce product page), every digital asset has an objective and a next step determined.

No conversation about access would be complete without talking about the cost. Previously, people in Australia with sleep apnea had only one option – to buy the device outright.

Our new approach introduces several new options, including the ability to look at CPAP therapy as a service, not a product, and pay a monthly interest-free amount. BigCommerce’s Checkout SDK has enabled ResMed to build an experience that is tailored to our users and our products.

Customer Engagement from Start to Finish

One of the biggest challenges the ResMed Australia team needed to tackle was delivering an online experience that complemented what is already available offline. We needed to create a seamless closed-loop system for visitors.

While there are existing online resources offering advice for people with sleep health problems, they generally cannot connect people with products that could help with those problems – and especially not deliver them to a person’s door.

The ResMed team has sought to deliver the best of both worlds. Our website is now a channel that allows people with sleep health problems to take action and get help regardless of the time of day or where in Australia they happen to be.

Part of this closed-loop system has been a focus on data and ensuring all of our systems work together to provide a seamless online and offline experience. Integrating our ecommerce with our CRM and marketing platforms was critically important in enabling this.

A Lesson in Medical Experiences

After launching ResMed.com.au, there are a few key pieces of advice I’d pass on to anyone interested in developing an online medical experience.

To attract, engage, convert and delight, make sure you understand who your users are and what their trends and needs are.

For example, make it easy for your users to contact you regardless of the channel. Internet users are now exposed to a range of communication channels – emailing, social messaging, calling and live chatting. Select your communication channels for your users, not your business.

Ensure that you have a crystal-clear understanding of legal and regulatory requirements. Know what boundaries you must operate within.

And ultimately, create processes that delight customers and make them return for more interactions with your brand.

Scaling Efforts across the Globe

Some of what we’re doing in Australia is already happening within ResMed’s global network. For example, in Europe and Asia, we’ve operated online stores and marketplaces selling products direct to consumers for several years.

With smartphone applications like ResMed’s myAir, we’ve been helping individual patients across the globe stay more engaged with their CPAP therapy. The result is that they are more likely to follow recommendations on the number of hours they use their device for each night.

In all of the markets in which we operate, we’re already attempting to look more holistically at the patient journey to build better user experiences. Across Australia there has been a fantastic opportunity to co-create directly with our customers. And in turn start to make the journey to better sleep health a delightful one.

Transitioning to BigCommerce

ResMed has an amazing team, full of very talented people, which means that we’ve never been short of ideas of how to grow online revenue.

Over the years, we’ve tried to develop our ecommerce platforms to deliver these growth ideas. Yet we found that our growth was being limited by how complex or inflexible our ecommerce platforms were.

In Australia, we decided to review and renew those ecommerce systems by choosing a new platform that provided the simplicity and flexibility customers wanted. We wanted to focus more on how we do business online (that is, how we sell to and serve our customers), rather than ecommerce fundamentals.

Hence, we chose BigCommerce, and we haven’t looked back. With the help of partner agencies Randem, Salted Stone and Loved Locked Loaded, we have been able to creatively deliver many of our growth strategies on the platform, plus the many other platforms we have integrated with.

References

  1. Benjafield, A., Ayas, N., Eastwood, P., Heinzer, R., Morrell, M., (2019) Estimation of the global prevalence and burden of obstructive sleep apnoea: a literature-based analysis. The Lancet Respiratory Medicine. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2213-2600(19)30198-5
  2. Google Official Blog. A remedy for your health-related questions: health info in the Knowledge Graph (2015) https://googleblog.blogspot.com/2015/02/health-info-knowledge-graph.html
  3. Deliotte Access Economics. (2017) Asleep on the job. Cost of inadequate sleep in Australia. Sleep Health Foundation. https://www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/files/Asleep_on_the_job/Asleep_on_the_Job_SHF_report-WEB_small.pdf
  4. House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport. (2019) Bedtime Reading. Inquiry into Sleep Health Awareness in Australia. https://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/download/committees/reportrep/024220/toc_pdf/BedtimeReading.pdf;fileType=application%2Fpdf

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    Matt Shaw

    Matt Shaw

    Matt Shaw is the Digital Transformation Lead at ResMed where he has been on a mission to improve sleep via digital channels. Over the last two decades, he has delivered digital innovation and marketing initiatives that are human, personalized and focused on driving growth for organizations across the health, telecommunications, entertainment and government sectors. Matt lives with a passion for exploring new ideas, innovation, and thinking differently about the world.

    View all posts by Matt Shaw

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