Renewed Focus on Home Sleep Testing Results in Center GrowthPrior to 2010, a great majority of sleep centers focused almost exclusively on in-lab testing, with the polysomnography test (PSG) leading the way. From 2010 to 2020, however, the home sleep testing (HST) market has experienced a growth explosion, jumping roughly 20X in total volume in the United States over the course of the decade. From 2015 to 2018, HST volumes doubled, and all signs pointed to record highs in 2020 prior to the pandemic. For sleep centers around the country, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a tremendous strain on in-lab testing volumes. However, with the rise of telemedicine and drop ship home sleep testing, savvy sleep centers are finding ways to keep their home sleep test operations running, and in some cases, growing.
How a New York State Sleep Center Has Grown Home Sleep Test VolumesIn case you missed it, last month’s sleep story featured Dayana Arellano and her team, who are putting patient care back into healthcare. This month, we’re excited to share the story of the Sleep Insights team, led by the Medical Director and Practice Owner, Dr. Jacob Dominik, MD, and the President and CEO, Jeff Dann. The team has 10 locations across the Central and Western section of New York, employing over 80 people. According to Dr. Dominik, it is their focus on sleep medicine from front to back that helps them stand out from the rest. “Being able to focus on sleep medicine exclusively if possible is to the benefit of patients,” said Dr. Dominik. “Longitudinal care is important. We’re not curing patients with one meeting. It’s a long-term sleep management relationship with our patients, and having a provider that sees the same patient each time is crucial.” However, longitudinal care during the COVID-19 pandemic comes with new challenges.
Sleep Center Changes brought about by COVID-19Like many centers in the U.S., the Sleep insights crew had to implement a telemedicine offering quickly or risk delaying patient testing and care. According to Dann, the office closed on a Friday and began offering telemedicine on Monday. It was quite a busy weekend for the whole team, but telemedicine wasn’t new to the Sleep Insights team. “We had explored using telemedicine prior to COVID,” said Dann, “so when COVID hit, we were able to transition quickly.” And even as COVID-19 restrictions have lifted, Sleep Insights has opted for continued usage. “We decided to continue to offer telemedicine even after the COVID restrictions were lifted,” added Dr. Dominik. “Once we made that decision, the idea began to snowball and we soon found ourselves exploring what a robust Virtual Care platform would look like for patients and providers.” The backbone of a virtual healthcare platform is the rise of the home sleep test. It’s not surprising that home sleep testing volumes haven’t been as impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic as PSG testing volumes. According to EnsoData’s COVID-19 Sleep Center Impact Study, with n=100 surveyed centers, only 28 percent maintained full PSG volumes, while 79 percent maintained full HST volumes in the first month of the pandemic.
An Opportunity in DisguiseOf the 79 percent of unaffected HST operations, 48 percent reported expansion in their market share or volume during the pandemic. We asked the Sleep Insights team if they had a similar experience, and Dr. Dominik’s commentary mirrored the study results. “In essence, the COVID crisis has allowed us to expand from our physical locations to a virtual platform, allowing patients the convenience of remote telemedicine visits and ongoing follow-up care, along with providing at-home testing and CPAP therapy services, all completed remotely by our staff.” One big advantage for private sleep practices is the ability to service patients from the first contact through care. For sleep centers that can claim independence and accreditation, a plethora of opportunities are available. Your center may be able to add or expand your services, including: initial consultations, PSGs, HSTs, DME support and supply, CBTi, and newer respiratory and other sleep therapies.
“Our focus has been and will continue to be on longitudinal patient care. We stress the need for clinical evaluations before testing, as well as the importance of continuity of care,” said Dr. Jacob Dominik. “We use an integrated approach which provides a continuity of care from initial evaluation to testing, to identifying the right therapy for the sleep disorder and the patient.”By focusing on the full patient experience, Dr. Dominik and his team are able to better offer the right options for each patient who comes to sleep insights. But what about the patients who are “out of network” and don’t have a good testing option available to them? That’s the next step for Dann, Dr. Dominik, and the whole Sleep Insights team.