Kevin Kunz is trying to capitalize on two big trends in health care.
One is a concern that many Americans aren’t getting enough rest due to sleep apnea, which can lessen quality of life and undermine health. The other is a desire by insurance companies to reduce costs.
Kunz and a partner launched Sleeptopia in 2013 to offer in-home diagnostic sleep testing. At a cost of about $400, he said, his company’s testing costs about one-fifth as much as competitors that keep clients overnight in a lab setting for testing.
“It is a very hot topic right now,” Kunz said of sleep apnea. “We’ve made it so much easier for people to get tested.”
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The business recently moved to a 1,500-square-foot spot on Pattie just south of downtown, doubling its space and adding two employees to bring the total to nine. There’s a second location in Independence. Kunz hopes to expand into Hays, Kansas City and other markets.
He also owns CPAP & Supplies of Kansas, which sells the ventilation masks used to treat sleep apnea, an obstruction of the upper airway most commonly caused by obesity.
Kunz said Sleeptopia can give most people the results of their sleep test in four days. Clients can pick up the testing devices at the company’s office or have them delivered. A nurse instructs clients in their use.
The device sits on a client’s chest and is about the size of a flip phone, with attachments for nostrils and a fingertip. It records snoring, respiratory stress and other factors determining whether a client suffers from apnea and, if so, how severely. The company contracts with two physicians to analyze the results, which are downloaded from the devices.
“Insurance companies are pushing for home sleep studies because of the cost,” Kunz said, adding that testing is covered by most major insurers and Medicare.
Kunz said the vast majority of tests come back positive for sleep apnea.
Kunz was in medical sales before starting Sleeptopia with Jennifer Burns, who’s a nurse practitioner. He said he was just following the advice of a mentor: “If you see a niche, take it.”
His fiancee also works for the company, which Kunz said is small enough that “we were jumping up and down” when they got word that Blue Cross Blue Shield would cover its services. But he also thinks there’s plenty of room for growth in a market that is seriously underserved.
Industries such as trucking and aviation are pushing for more testing for safety purposes, he said.
“There are so many (people) undiagnosed right now,” he said.
Now you know
Address: 411 S. Pattie, Suite 2
Owners: Kevin Kunz and Jennifer Burns