Zee AppNea is a smart phone App that utilizes a single channel to screen for sleep disordered breathing. The App specific intent is to be utilized as an educational tool to increase awareness of sleep apnea, and to help clearly demonstrate to the lay public if an increased risk for sleep apnea exists. Up until now the only real tools available to physicians and potential patients has been a variety of questionnaires. Questionnaires have a significant downside in that they rely in part on subjective criteria, like daytime sleepiness and snoring. This form of screening is also limited by the lack of truly convincing information that a user is going to require to base a decision on whether to proceed with further evaluation.
Questionnaires are also of very limited value in subjects who are at risk of being occupationally limited by a positive score. The fact that these questionnaires are usually provided by business entities attempting to identify at risk individuals, makes them of little value. This can be clearly demonstrated by questionnaires utilized as a screening tool for the DOT commercial drivers certification. Low scores in high risk individuals are almost always the rule.
Zee AppNea (the App) has many advantages over the traditional question based risk evaluation.
The App combines the validated STOP BANG questionnaire with an objective measurement of airflow below the nostrils. It converts the sounds produced by air flow into recognizable and reproducible patterns that strongly correlate with HST and PSG findings. Zee AppNea has been used as a screening tool prior to formal sleep testing in a Sleep Lab for over a year. The results thus far have been very promising.
This novel approach to screening is well received by users. The fact that the App can be downloaded with ease and deployed without any special equipment, makes the barriers to performing this test minimal. The recording is simply submitted on completion of the recording for analysis. A email is then returned to the user with a risk evaluation based on the questions answered and the objective recording. The report clearly defines the risk of sleep apnea, in terms of severity. Normal to Mild vs. Mild to Moderate vs. Moderate to Severe. It also provides a visual of the sleeping pattern that demonstrates breathing abnormalities, including apneas if present. The report will then educate the user on options available for further evaluation and testing.
A recent study showed that over 40% of individuals who suspect they have sleep apnea, never proceed with further evaluation. Zee AppNea lowers the perceived barrier by providing a ubiquitous smartphone App that not only is relatively simple to use, but also provides a confidential, no risk evaluation that allows the user to maintain complete control of the process. The App then guides the user in terms of all options available, without threat or commitment. The belief is that this App, will allow many individuals who right now are suffering from sleepiness and decreased job performance but are fearful of seeking help, to initiate the process through the App.
The App gives pilots, air traffic controllers, train engineers and truckers to name a few an opportunity to do the right thing and seek help for a potentially catastrophic condition, hopefully achieving what legislation has failed to do thus far.
For the many individuals who are the silent sufferers (except for the snoring), and who just need a little more convincing that their symptoms are not ‘normal’, the App, provides just that. It is far easier for a spouse to convince a bed partner to sleep with his or her smartphone than to sleep in another room indefinitely.
There are many Apps available that promise effective screening for sleep apnea. Most of the Apps currently available cannot come close to providing an accurate screening tool for sleep apnea. Common sense tells you that sleeping with your phone next to the bed without any connection cannot provide any meaningful information.
Zee Appnea is different in that in has 2 separate and unique methods of screening for sleep apnea.
1. It utilizes a proven and validated sleep questionnaire incorporated into the App to help determine risk.
2. It utilizes a microphone firmly positioned under the nose to record the sleep breathing. The patterns of breathing are then analyzed and correlated with known sleep breathing abnormalities. The correlations have been determined by comparing results of the App breathing recordings to actual sleep studies known as Polysomnograms.
3. A report is generated that provides you with a detailed review of the risk based on both components with actual sample views of your sleep breathing recordings.
It is important to always keep in mind that this is still an App, it is NOT a medical device and cannot diagnose sleep apnea. The sole intent is to increase awareness of this potentially serious disorder. Only a medical provider can truly determine if a sleep disorder is present. This usually requires more sophisticated testing than what this App can provide. But if the App helps encourage an individual at increased risk to seek medical help, then the purpose of the App has been achieved.