Personally Challenged By Sleep Apnea, He Revolutionizes The Sleep Wellness Space
Plagued by restless nights, daytime drowsiness, and interrupted breath while sleeping, Jay Levitt suspected he suffered from sleep apnea. Fearing the process of finding a solution would be arduous, he delayed seeking help as long as possible. Over the course of time, there came the recognition that the condition was growing worse and a course of action had to be pursued, however dire the process. His concerns proved all too accurate. After navigating a needlessly complex path of diagnosis and treatment, his entrepreneurial spirit convinced him that there had to be a better way to a good night's sleep.
Your experience with Apnea seemed very personal?
For several years I suspected that I had the condition and zI knew enough about it to understand that if so, it was dangerous; however, I avoided looking into it for as long as I could. I assumed it would be a drawn out, arduous process to get treated. When I finally got concerned enough to do something about it, my reluctance proved spot on. I spent two very difficult nights in a sleep lab, was given pages of sleep data I didn't understand, and was sent on a wild good chase in search of the right treatment option.
I finally gave up dealing with my insurance company and only by being my own advocate did I finally find the right therapy protocol that worked for me. It was a tough road getting there, but once I found treatment it was a game changer. I slept better than I had in years, my wife stopped kicking me during the night, and I had more energy than I knew what to do with during the day. The experience stuck with me in a profound way. Sleep apnea treatment literally changed my life, but I almost didn't get there because the process was so difficult. I simply knew there had to be a better way.
This very personal experience, linked with your entrepreneurial spirit seems to have been the impetus for creating Lofta?
That's exactly right. Based on my own experience, I saw a huge need in the sleep wellness space and I recognized it was the right time to develop a completely new model. We nailed down the components of the sleep apnea diagnosis and treatment process that make it so unnecessarily cumbersome and complicated and completely revolutionized them. The key was to put the client at the center of the process.
I asked myself, if I were to go through the path of diagnosis and treatment again, how would I change that experience? That ideal became out model; no sleep labs, no clinical complexity, no insurance headaches, no uncertainty about what to do next ~ just a simple, streamlined process that can literally be accomplished in as little as 7-days, all in the comfort of your own home. Most importantly, at the heart of Lofta's value proposition is something that was fundamentally missing from my own experience, someone who really cares about the client's success and is willing to walk through the process with them every step of the way until they achieve it.
Is this personalized approach a key element to successful therapy?
Most sleep apnea therapy device retailers leave it to the individual to work through the process. Our job has only just begun once we provide the device. We offer intense therapy support, we send clients personalized daily progress reports, and offer one-on-one coaching until folks are completely comfortable with their therapy devices. The first few weeks of treatment are especially important because if therapy doesn't click for someone in the first 30 days, their chances of long-term success are pretty low.
Even in our "early access" or launch phase, the response to our high touch approach has been overwhelming. People really can't believe what they are experiencing. My favorite clients testimonial was the man who wrote "I've received more attention from Lofta in 3 days than I have from my pulmonologist in 10 years". Clients recognize there is something very special about our service-centered sleep approach. While usually treated relatively easily, sleep apnea is a serious condition that requires a high level of treatment support ~ a level that just hasn't been available in the marketplace until now.
The key was to put the client at the center of the process ~ just a simple, streamlined process accomplished in as little as 7-days, all in the comfort of one's home.
Have the successes been meaningful?
It's truly incredible what happens when people sense you are really invested in their success. They get excited to see their sleep reports; they want to share their victories with use. The testimonials about how people's lives change as a result of therapy are really inspirational. Clients say they haven't felt so good in years. They are dreaming again, they wake up each morning refreshed; their partners can finally sleep. But, I want to make clear, sleep apneas treatment is not just about feeling better, it can literally save people's lives.
That's a pretty bold statement. Can you elaborate?
Untreated, sleep apnea is a very real public health problem. The number of people who are impacted by the condition is truly staggering. It's estimated that almost 1 in 5 people, both men and women, suffer from sleep apnea. What's really scary is that about 65% of those people are completely unaware they have the condition. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misconceptions and stigma surrounding sleep apnea. People are uninformed or don't want to face they have a medical condition ~ so they avoid dealing with it. Of course, the problem with all this lack of understanding is that those suffering don't get the help they need, which can be dangerous.
Beyond all the quality of life issues surrounding poor sleep, there are extremely serious health conditions linked with sleep apnea, including increased risk for diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. This is obviously very serious stuff, which makes it that much more important that treatment be easily accessible. Our personalized approach really lies in changing the conversation around sleep apnea and dispelling the myths that prevent people from getting help, feeling better, and living longer and healthier.
Did the timing just seem right to launch the program?
It did! The healthcare space in general is undergoing such a revolutionary change right now. Technology is allowing healthcare professionals to provide care in ways we couldn't have imagined ten years ago. Much of what is so streamlined and easy about the Lofta path is based on cutting edge technologies and practices like virtual care,
in-home testing devices, and data driven treatment with a continuous feedback loop so people can really become vested in their own outcomes. The wellness and healthcare space is increasingly relying on these technologies to provide more efficient, accessible care and Lofta is at the forefront of that trend.
At the same time, there is a huge increase in awareness about the importance of sleep to an overall healthy lifestyle. People are starting to understand that a good night's sleep is a critical to optimal health as diet and exercise. Because Lofta was founded with a consumer centric focus, were are well positioned to be an important player in this growing field.
There certainly is and in our minds it is a vital component. Virtual care allows healthcare professionals to provide care to patients "virtually" through video conferencing technology. People who access virtual care can consult with a physician from the comfort and privacy of their own home. Loft is a medical equipment provider, but because our goal is to offer a seamless and convenient path for our clients, we provide access to a group of independent board certified sleep physicians who oversee the medical aspects of the process via a virtual care platform.
So, should our clients choose, they can consult with a physician about their condition and possible treatment options, even obtain a prescription from the convenience of their laptop or smart phone. Loft then provides treatment solutions based on the guidance of the client's physician. The virtual care platform technology, which is an integral component of the process, allows this to be handled seamlessly and easily.
How will you be introducing Lofta to the marketplace?
Given that accessibility and a consumer-center approach are central to our model, the e-commerce experience we create for our clients is critically important. One of the ways we introduced our concept to the marketplace is by launching a "micro-site" exclusively devoted to a single, innovative sleep apneas therapy device: ResMed's new "Airmini" travel CPAP. The smallest CPAP on the market, the "Airmini" is a game changer for the CPAP user who travels, so we felt it was the ideal product in our early access stage. Its features sync up perfectly with the Lofta philosophy, by relying on the latest technology and a client-centered approach. The "Airmini" simplifies apnea therapy. Just like Lofta, the "Airmini" allows people to think about sleep apneas therapy differently.
Not only is the micro-site allowing us to get our brand out there by selling an innovative new therapy device, but also it's providing to be a great way of testing out strategies in the marketplace. The response to our high touch approach has exceeded our expectations, so we are confident we are on the right track there. Part of offering the most accessible experience to our clients possible is incorporating "value adds" that are popular in the e-commerce space, but aren't typically associated with purchasing medical equipment-services like our 30-day trial period, same day delivery in major cities (including San Diego), and a dedicated "sleep coach", are all unique to Lofta. This approach has been extremely well received by our clients.
The mirror-site has also revealed some surprises along the way. At this point, nearly half of our clients are women, which is something we didn't totally anticipate. The beauty of digital marketing is that we can detemine what is working particularly well and what is less successful relatively quickly and then shift gears accordingly. The good news is that all the core principles that inspired Lofta are clearly reuniting with the on-line consumer.
What's next for Lofta? How do you get to the next phase?
Expanding our e-commerce footprint is a major priority. We've engaged a leading NYC-based digital marketing firm and are in the process of refining the ideal on-line client experience. In the coming months, we expect to have our full site launched, which will feature a wide breadth of sleep apnea treatment devices and accessories in addition to highlighting the unique value proposition our company offers by eliminating the barriers that keep people from a good night's sleep. We are really excited about creating an on-line client experience that reflects our revolutionary approach to the business, making it easy, streamlined, intuitive, and consumer-friendly.
We are also very focused on growing our team at the moment. As our "early access" launch was a it more successful than anticipated, we need to bring people on quickly. However, we are extremely selective. Not only do we need to find folks with the appropriate skill set, but they need to thoroughly grasp and embody the "Lofta ethos" - the understanding that by offering an unsurpassed client experience, we are changing people's lives.