Attention to patient comfort boosts compliance, business

Sunday, July 1, 2007

WASHINGTON - Taking a closer look at CPAP compliance could boost benefits for patients and providers alike. That's what Jill Glenn, CEO of Arete NW, a provider of sleep therapy services, told listeners during Tuesday's AAHomecare teleconference.

A standard of success for CPAP use is defined as more than five hours per night, five nights per week, she said.

"That might sound pretty good, but when I calculate it out, it equates to 104 nights per year or 28% of their sleep time," said Glenn. "From a clinical perspective, I wouldn't want to think that patients are noncompliant 28% of the time."

Follow-up care is important in boosting CPAP compliance rates, she said. On-site visits should be conducted at one, three, six and 12 months, and follow-up phone calls should be made a minimum of two to four times during the patient's first four-week cycle.

It's important to use consistent documentation with consistent questions to better track a patient's improvement over time, she added.

Glenn cautioned against simply trying to sell supplies when calling CPAP patients. Instead, it is a good way to measure how the patient is doing.

"(Ask) 'Are you having leaks? Is the headgear sliding?'" suggested Glenn. "Most of the time, a patient will say 'Yes, that's happening.'"

That kind of problem solving gives the patient a better CPAP experience, making them more likely to continue using the machine, she said.

Glenn also advised providers to take their time on mask set-ups and to look at what mask each therapist uses.

"See if those techs use the same mask every time," she said. "Some masks do fit the majority of patients, but if you find complacency occurring, you'll have a higher (failure) rate. Each patient is an individual. What's their lifestyle? Lots of things can affect patient comfort."