Insurer Highmark opens retail sleep store

Friday, December 19, 2014

PITTSBURGH – Healthcare giant Highmark has stepped into the sleep market with a new sleep wellness store, REMWorks.

“Our goal is to be able to offer a solution to everyone who has a challenge, from just occasional sleeplessness to someone who has snoring issues to someone who may have and underlying sleep issue that they are not even aware of,” said Amy Phillips, director of REMWorks.

The retail store, which opened Dec. 13, carries traditional CPAP machines and masks, over-the-counter remedies, relaxation devices and aromatherapy products. REMWorks will also offer cognitive behavioral therapy. The staff includes RTs, an RN and a registered sleep technician.

To help determine what’s best for customers, staff will start with a dialogue, says Phillips.

“We’ll ask some key questions about their sleep or sleeplessness,” she said. “We’ll also be able to do the Epworth Stop-Bang assessment. We’ll be able to guide them whether they need to see their primary care physician about potential sleep apnea or, if it seems to be more of an acute problem or a non-medical problem, we can guide them to some of the retail products that may assist them on a short-term basis.”

With an estimated 80 million Americans reporting difficulty sleeping at some point, and with OSA tied to a host of other issues, including hypertension, heart disease and increased risk of stroke, Phillips says REMWorks offers an opportunity to reach people walking around who may not realize they have OSA.

The store has begun marketing itself, through radio advertising and meeting with local sleep labs and specialists. Although its parent, Highmark, is an insurer, Phillips says that won’t give REMWorks an advantage over other providers.

“We have to earn their business just like everyone else,” she said.