Mark Wixom: "Many people simply aren’t aware of the potentially serious health risks caused by sleep disorders."
Mark Wixom’s company, ResMed, makes sure its millions of customers get a good night’s sleep, uninterrupted by potentially serious health ailments that often go undetected.
Founded in 1989, ResMed develops, manufactures and distributes sophisticated devices that treat sleep-disordered breathing and other respiratory conditions.
As ResMed’s director of continuous improvement, Wixom oversees the use of standard improvement methods with departmental change agents driving efficiency initiatives.
Wixom, a graduate of Texas A&M University in business management, has been with the firm since 2002, when he was hired as Director of Customer Service. He completed his UC San Diego Extension Specialized Lean Six Sigma Black Belt certification in 2010.
Q: What exactly is the concept of continuous improvement?
A: Continuous Improvement is designed to help grow the business more efficiently. Our improvement motto is “eliminate waste, create time and achieve more,” based on the principles of Lean Six Sigma.
Q: Looking back, what did you learn that’s helped you in your current role?
A: The courses helped me significantly increase my knowledge base, in all areas. The whole idea is problem-solving as well as making the most of opportunities. We focus developing those skills throughout the organization.
Q: How would you describe ResMed’s corporate mission?
A: We’re in the business of breathing. We believe we are “Changing lives with every breath.” It’s a great feeling to work for a company that helps improve the quality of so many lives.
Q: Does your role require medical expertise or training?
A: My background is in business management and not clinical expertise. My role is all about improving our business operations and pursing operational excellence.
Q: What are the medical conditions that can be diagnosed through sleep disorders?
A: Left untreated, sleep apnea can heighten the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, obesity, type 2 diabetes and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). When people ask me, I encourage them to ask their doctor about it and always invite them to check out our website, ResMed.com, for more information.
Q: How do your devices help alleviate these sleep disorders?
A: We offer a full range of medical devices. Our product line will treat and manage respiratory disorders to include sleep apnea, obstructive and restrictive disease breathing disorders, pediatric to adult age. It’s one of the most under-diagnosed conditions out there. And most insurance providers will cover these devices.
Q: Could you describe what happens in sleep apnea?
A: Obstructive sleep apnea describes a disorder in which you stop breathing temporarily while you’re sleeping. It may be for up to 10 to 20 seconds or longer. Your oxygen level goes down, and a signal is sent to the control center in your brain, triggering you to wake up just enough to gasp for air and start breathing again.
Q: How often does that occur, for the condition to be potentially dangerous?
A: The cycle can repeat itself up to dozens of times or more during the night, and you may not even remember any of this happening. Many people simply aren’t aware of the potentially serious health risks caused by sleep disorders. Everyone should ask their doctor and look into other sources of information to learn more. As our company founder, Peter Farrell, has said: “Our biggest competitor is ignorance.”