Patient care today forestalls costs tomorrow

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

BALTIMORE – It’s time to think about the bigger picture when it comes to treating obstructive sleep apnea, says Ed Grandi, executive director of the American Sleep Apnea Association (ASAA).

That’s why, this year, the ASAA has named its annual conference “The Economic & Clinical Impact of Sleep Apnea.”

“There are a lot of conferences out there that just talk theory,” said Grandi. “There are solutions out there that work and technologies to address the condition effectively.”

The event, to be held Oct. 24-25 in Baltimore, will examine sleep apnea across four domains: diagnostic, therapeutic, monitoring and comprehensive management.

The more all-encompassing reach of the event, which is geared toward employers and payers, provides an appropriate backdrop for a frank discussion of the shifting model of patient care, Grandi says.

“We have to recognize that sleep apnea patients have to be managed and somehow, someone has to get paid for it,” he said. “What does it mean to get paid? I think it’s a little bit beyond making sure they get a new mask every six months.”

As the model for patient care shifts, HME providers have an opportunity to redefine their role in sleep therapy, Grandi says.

“We are getting to the point where they are going to specialize and either they are significantly involved in treatment and management or they are not going to be involved at all,” he said.

Healthcare expenses may be continuing to bear down on payers, but sleep apnea patients don’t have to cost a lot of money, Grandi says.

“Perhaps by identifying people at risk for the condition early and instituting therapy sooner, we might forestall more significant expenses down the road,” he said.