'A chronic disease without chronic care'

Saturday, February 28, 2009

VANCOUVER, Wash.--Medicare’s revamped sleep policy means patients need to get serious about CPAP compliance. In December, mysleepmask.com launched a coaching program to help them do just that.

“Sleep apnea is a chronic disease that’s not getting any chronic care,” said Weston Headley, founder of mysleepmask.com. “We find that if people stumble onto a little problem and they can just call us, it helps them stay on the therapy.”

That’s important. Under Medicare’s new compliance rules, patients who began CPAP on or after Nov. 1, 2008, must prove they are 70% compliant or lose coverage for their therapy. The national average is around 50%, said Headley.

CPAP users in mysleepmask.com’s compliance program get handbooks and monthly newsletters, but it’s the CPAP coaches who make the difference, Headley said.

“Within the first 30 days, there’s a lot of proactive outreach,” he said. “We help people work through their problems and get them past the critical first two weeks.”

While the coaches focus on helping the CPAP user, there is a respiratory therapist on staff for more serious concerns. Patient issues range from how to turn on the machine to mask leaks?

The compliance program is free. Keeping patients on CPAP and replenishing their supplies is where mysleepmask.com makes its money, said Headley. Mysleepmask.com has begun helping sleep labs set up compliance programs. It may also market its program to HME providers - they have enough on their hands just keeping up with Medicare’s documentation requirements, Headley said.