ResMed is working with Austrade in India to raise awareness of obstructive sleep apnoea.
In 1981, Professor Colin Sullivan and colleagues at the University of Sydney invented a machine that helped people breathe easier and sleep better. This life-changing machine – the world’s first continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device – was the first successful non-invasive treatment for obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA).
ResMed was founded in 1989 to commercialise Dr Sullivan’s invention. Today, ResMed is one of Australia’s biggest and most successful companies. The US$36 billion business earned US$4.2 billion in revenue in fiscal 2023 and employs more than 10,000 people worldwide, including 1,500 in Australia.
ResMed’s cloud-connected sleep apnoea machines, ventilators and consumables are sold to hospitals, sleep clinics, home healthcare dealers and patients in more than 140 countries. Its cloud-based platforms – AirView and MyAir – allow healthcare providers to monitor and manage patients, optimising their treatment and improving outcomes.
One of ResMed’s priority markets is India, where an estimated 100 million people suffer from OSA. Since launching in 2009, the company has worked to increase awareness of OSA among consumers and healthcare professionals. In recent years, Austrade has helped ResMed to expand its business in India by introducing the company to customers, partners and key health policymakers in several Indian states and supporting its profile-building activities.
‘Our mission is to help people sleep better, breathe better and live better-quality lives – and that is what we will continue to do in India,’ says Ms Nupur Bhushan, CEO/General Manager, Australia, New Zealand and South Asia-India, ResMed.
Innovation is still at the heart of ResMed’s business. The company spends around 8% of its global revenue on R&D every year. It has innovation hubs in Australia, India, Ireland and Singapore undertaking product and software development.
The Australian and Singaporean R&D centres are co-located with manufacturing facilities. By co-locating its product design, engineering, manufacturing and R&D teams, ResMed can move quickly to develop prototypes and get new products to market. In Australia, the company employs over 350 people in its manufacturing team to build cloud-connected devices used to diagnose and treat sleep apnoea, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other chronic diseases.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, ResMed pivoted its manufacturing operations to produce more ventilators. In the first six months of 2020, teams produced a record 150,000-plus ventilators – 3.5 times the company’s output over the same timeframe in the previous year. Of those ventilators, 7,000 went into Australia’s stockpile, ready to treat tens of thousands of people.
ResMed's sleep apnoea device helps patients with OSA sleep better.
ResMed has been active in the Indian market for over 15 years. The company has around 100 employees in New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bengaluru. Longstanding partnerships with healthcare distributors have been key to its success. ResMed services private and public healthcare providers across India, from Ladakh in the north to the southern states.
Studies show over 100 million people out of a population of 1.4 billion in India suffer from moderate to severe OSA. OSA is a common disease where a person’s throat becomes partly or completely blocked when they snore, causing them to stop breathing for 10 to 90 seconds.
There is little to no awareness of OSA and its association with more serious conditions in India, says Ms Bhushan.
‘OSA increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension and Type 2 diabetes,’ she says. ‘These diseases are on the rise in India. By raising awareness of sleep apnoea and its link to other conditions, we can help reduce the risk of people developing life-threatening diseases.’
Since launching in India in 2009, ResMed has been raising awareness of OSA and therapies such as its CPAP machines that treat the condition. The company attends health conferences, runs consumer campaigns and works with distributors to educate the general population, medical practitioners and public health officials.
ResMed is a long-time Austrade client. In India, Austrade has connected the company to health officials in several states. ‘The introductions to policymakers or policy influencers have made a huge difference,’ says Ms Bhushan. ‘India is so vast and complex we need their support to effect change in the public healthcare system.’
Austrade has also introduced ResMed to customers, invited the company on trade missions as part of the Australia-India Business Exchange, shared market insights, notified managers about potential supply opportunities and facilitated forums to support ResMed’s brand-profiling activities.
‘ResMed has been in India for over 15 years but there are still many opportunities,’ says Ms Bhushan. ‘Austrade has been great at helping us expand our business.’
ResMed’s networking and awareness-raising activities have paid off. The company is one of the leading providers of CPAP devices and non-invasive ventilators in India. It has recorded strong year-on-year growth for the past five years, securing contracts to supply its CPAP machines and ventilators to private and public hospitals across the country. ResMed is also supplying sleep apnoea devices to Indian defence forces stationed at high-altitude bases.
In 2023, ResMed launched a Global Tech Centre in Bangaluru. It has recruited 40 employees for R&D and support services for its US operations. The centre’s headcount is projected to reach 200 employees in the next 2 years.
Ms Bhushan believes there is strong growth potential in India.
‘The COVID-19 pandemic has made people much more health-conscious,’ she says. ‘Consumers are much more receptive to our awareness campaigns. The Indian Government is also spending more on healthcare and improving infrastructure as it strives to transform India into a global manufacturing hub for medical devices. There is huge interest in innovative medical technologies like ours.’
ResMed’s focus of late has been on improving access to diagnostic services. There are few facilities like sleep clinics in India where people can get tested. Testing is also expensive, which puts the service out of reach for a large number of people.
‘We have a sleep screening tool that allows people to test their sleep patterns at home,’ says Ms Bhushan. ‘We are working on increasing awareness of this product, which will make testing more accessible.’