During the pandemic, a nationwide emphasis on social distancing resulted in massive gains in the home sleep apnea test (HSAT) market. Patients are hearing about HSATs from their friends and colleagues. The tests are less intrusive. You take them from your home. And as a result, more patients than ever are starting their sleep care journey with an HSAT.
With the rise of telemedicine and drop ship home sleep testing, sleep centers are poised to embrace HSATs as a viable option for patients. In fact, to remain relevant and stay competitive, sleep centers need to embrace HSAT as an alternative to PSGs for certain patient populations. Offering HSATs not only helps you reach more patients and save your in-lab beds for patients that have severe illness and require PSGs, but also provide revenue growth opportunities.
Here is a list of the top five tips for growing your sleep center’s HSAT volume.
1. Assign a Point Person
Your point person should be an integral part of establishing growth goals and developing the clinic’s HSAT process and procedures, in addition to measuring ongoing results. Considerations include using day staff for patient device pick-ups and night staff for patient troubleshooting. Also, ensuring staff is trained on how to administer the device and identify basic user errors. Telemedicine can be utilized for patient education and troubleshooting, particularly if the patient is having trouble setting up the device at home. In addition, creating procedures for sanitary receipt and disinfecting of reusable HSATs is a necessary and critical step in the process.
2. Establish Partnerships
The traditional HSAT model involves the sleep center deploying HSAT equipment directly to the patient. Many sleep centers are finding that this still carries with it the potential risk of infection. It is important for sleep facilities to re-evaluate their HSAT programs with an eye towards improving access for patients while decreasing risk. A mail-order HSAT model may be ideal to accomplish both of these goals and outsourcing with the right partner can be an easy way to provide uninterrupted service.
Choose a partner that has a mail delivery option for touch-less administration. Look for partners that also have nighttime or 24-hour call support for patient device troubleshooting. Providers like MedBridge Healthcare have all of those offerings while still working with local sleep specialists to provide interpretations. You don’t have to choose a large national provider with their own physician. Do your research to find a partner that fits your needs.
3. Build Your Referral Network
Educate your medical group on service details. Local physicians may be using a national provider because they don’t know you offer competitive services with a local sleep specialist. By keeping services in the community, the patient is able to take advantage of the various resources affiliated with the local sleep facility including follow up and ongoing support. Medbridge Healthcare’s Medical Director addresses the importance of building a network with local providers,
“Improving the sleep health of our communities is imperative as we know that sleep is essential to health. Whenever possible, provide education and build awareness of your sleep center with local providers to allow the patient to remain in their community. In areas that otherwise would not have access to specialist care, telemedicine allows sleep clinicians to provide care while keeping patients safer.”
Seema Khosla, MD FCCP, FAASM
For additional tips on building your referral network, check out 6 Recommendations to Ramp Up Your Patient Base with Referrals.
4. Educate Your Patients
Information about sleep apnea as well as information about what to expect will improve your capture rate. If your website doesn’t go into detail make sure there is someone at the other end of the phone to help patients. This can be a confusing process to a newcomer. Provide realistic timelines and concrete next steps. Check out this video MedBridge Healthcare put together to set expectations for the HSAT process.
Another helpful tool to educate patients on what to expect is an infographic or step-by-step outline of the entire process. Following is our Home Sleep Apnea Test (HSAT) Process and Timeline infographic. Feel free to download the infographic and use it in your sleep center.
5. Keep Up with Volume
Timely turnaround is key to continued support and success of any sleep program. Choosing an AI partner like EnsoData will help to enhance the human element rather than replace it. Allowing scoring technologists to devote more time to patient education and care as well as improve process and outcome measures for the HSAT program.
Thanks to MedBridge Healthcare– an HSAT and Telemedicine provider for contributions made to this article.
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