Home Sleep Tests Gain Approval

Home Sleep Tests Gain Approval

Educating undiagnosed Americans with sleep apnea is one of several hurdles to positively affecting the health outcomes for sleep apnea machine. For many, the cost and potential inconvenience of a traditional polysomnography sleep study test (PST) can also be a major concern for potential Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) patients. With many health insurers covering home testing, its convenience, and lower cost is gaining greater acceptance by patients, the healthcare community, and insurers alike.

In-lab Sleep Study

An in-lab sleep study, otherwise referred to as polysomnogram, or polysomnography is an overnight sleep study conducted at an accredited sleep center by a board-certified sleep medicine physician to evaluate the patient’s sleep. In addition to sleep apnea and other categories of sleep disorder breathing, polysomnograms are utilized to further calibrate an OSA patient’s CPAP air pressure levels or to diagnose parasomnias.

While sleeping, the patient is attached to equipment that monitors heart, lung, and brain activity, breathing patterns, arm, and leg movements as well as blood oxygen levels.

Home Sleep Study

In the case of a home sleep study, the patient receives a portable device from their physician that allows them to administer a similar test in their own home. Like the in-lab study, the home sleep study portable device measures heart rate, blood oxygen level, airflow and breathing patterns to detect possible oxygen level drops during apneas. The portable devices record the data and either transmit it to the physician/sleep specialist or it is gathered from the device when it is returned in order to make the diagnosis.

While portable monitoring devices don't detect all cases of sleep apnea, they can be very beneficial to home bound or elderly patients and those with chronic illnesses. These patients may find that an overnight stay in a sleep study center is less tenable. For others, the convenience of being able to stay home and self-administer the test is the perfect remedy to scheduling difficulties such as single parents with young children.

Of course, one of the most attractive aspects of the home sleep study is that it is only a fraction of the cost of an in-lab sleep study while delivering similar results. The goal for both forms of testing is to detect the presence of OSA and to quickly get the patient on CPAP therapy with the most convenient and effective CPAP machine that suits their needs and comfort level in order to improve their sleep and overall health.

Acceptance and Technological Advances

Manufacturers have now developed smaller home testing devices that can be mailed to the patient once a physician submits a prescription for a home sleep test. These Smartphone-sized home sleep testing devices work in a similar fashion to other home testing systems in that they monitor the five parameters necessary for OSA diagnosis: respiration airflow, oxygen saturation, pulse rate, respiration effort and snoring. Other new portable devices can provide highly detailed differentiation data for increasingly accurate diagnosis.

Despite the apparent convenience and significantly lower costs of home sleep tests, many patients have concerns about insurance coverage and especially Medicaid coverage. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) addressed the coverage issue in 2008 by expanding its rules regarding home sleep testing coverage and regulations. Many healthcare agencies have weighed in on the efficacy of home sleep test verses traditional polysomnography overnight testing as described in a Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine (JCSM) editorial.

A recent Boston Globe story detailed how the greater acceptance of home testing by insurers is impacting sleep clinics in the state with some cautionary concerns about potential overuse. Fortunately, these concerns are being addressed and evaluated to create protocols that can eliminate the potential for overuse, fraud and inaccurate diagnosis.

As the technology continues to progress, the already similar results derived from home sleep testing systems will become even more apparent and convenient. Just as with the advance in technology of the CPAP machine, home sleep tests are furthering the goal of bringing a restful sleep and improved long-term health outcomes to millions around the country and the world.

The CPAP Shop is committed to enhancing the lives of people with sleep apnea through information and high-quality therapeutic products.  If you have questions about CPAP masks or machines or any of our line of accessories, please call (866) 414-9700, or you can contact us through our website at www.thecpapshop.com.

Chris Vasta

Chris Vasta is the president of The CPAP Shop and an expert in sleep and respiratory therapy. He often provides insights on product design and functionality on various manufacturers’ prototypes and is frequently tapped to provide reviews on new releases.