iPads, home sleep tests and a mea culpa: Must be the year in sleep

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Despite the plethora of news across the specialty provider spectrum in 2011, it was a real eye opener to learn that the year's top stories all dealt with sleep. But that's about all they had in common. From there, the stories diverge, highlighting new ideas, new markets and new competition.

The five most read stories from www.hmenews.com:

* CMS admits RAC got it wrong

* AASM shifts sleep strategy

* Proposed change could add teeth to CPAP policy

* Providers eye home sleep test market

* Rules of engagement: CPAP provider goes high tech

In the top story, CPAP providers found themselves on the right side of the audit tracks in February when CMS said it would halt CPAP audits in Jurisdiction D after learning that auditors were misinterpreting policy and trying to recoup money.

CMS offered a mea culpa and told providers refunds were possible.

CPAP providers were also busy keeping an eye on some possible new competition. In September, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) proposed creating a pilot program that would allow sleep centers to provide CPAP equipment to Medicare beneficiaries--a big no-no for CPAP providers.

Providers understandably feel threatened, and, toward year's end, several told HME News that the industry needs to pull together and craft a unified response.

Providers continued in 2011 to look for ways to grow. Although home sleep testing is still a bit of a wild west, many providers reported they were actively looking at partnering with third-party payers and testing facilities to do what CPAP providers do best: manage patient compliance, as told in the fourth most-viewed story.

Speaking of compliance, the third most viewed story highlighted an initiative by CPAP providers to protect themselves in certain instances where it looks like a beneficiary might not be compliant. Members of the AAHomecare CPAP task force in June asked CMS to allow providers to use advance beneficiary notices on the first day of CPAP set-up, if patients meet certain criteria. It's not the first time the issue has come up, and HME News will continue to follow the story.

And finally, a success story, right here in our backyard at HME News. Provider Eric Cohen, president of Scarborough, Maine-based National Sleep Therapy, found the way to patient compliance through a proprietary software system that tracks patient data in real time. Cohen also put technology right in the patients' hands in the form of iPads to get them started down the path.