Providers look to technology to boost compliance

Friday, April 17, 2015

YARMOUTH, Maine – With compliance rates for CPAP therapy that fall somewhere between 51% and 75%, about half of the respondents to a recent HME NewsPoll admit there’s room for improvement.

But things could be looking up, with 58% saying their compliance rates have improved in the past year. One big reason for that: advances in technology, like the remote monitoring capabilities of today’s CPAP devices.

“The biggest impact on compliance has to be the use of modems,” wrote Spencer Burk, a patient care coordinator at American HomePatient in Austin, Texas. “We can see when patients are having issues before they forget to call.”

Indeed, 78% of respondents to the poll say they’ve leveraged technology to improve their compliance rates.

In addition to remote monitoring, mobile apps and web-based systems that patients can use to monitor and manage their therapy themselves are making a big difference, respondents say.

“SleepMapper is really gaining popularity with our patients,” said one respondent. “You need the patient buy-in.”

Respondents point out, however, that the secret to a good compliance rate is a combination of technology and what one respondent called “the old school approach.”

“Without a doubt, the biggest impact on compliance is patient education,” wrote Nancy Whiteley, the clinical sleep educator at S Baker Medical in Mobile, Ala. “I spend an hour with every new PAP setup that I do.”

During each setup, Whiteley says she covers: what is sleep apnea, what are the consequences if it’s left untreated, how does the device work, how do I care for it, why do I replace supplies?

“I cover what they can expect their first night through traveling with PAP,” she wrote. “I assure them there is no reason they can’t be 100% comfortable using PAP.”

While compliance may be most crucial during the first 90 days of therapy (not only to get patients started off on the right foot but also to secure reimbursement), it’s an ongoing effort, respondents say.

“Looking longer term, e.g. post-24 months, we note that adherence rates fall to the 40% or less rate,” wrote one respondent.

There’s no denying that CPAP can be a high-maintenance product category, respondents say.

“Now that most, if not all, insurances require compliance for resupply has forced our hand to update and maintain our compliance,” wrote Michael Thompson, a respiratory care practitioner at Personal Support Medical Suppliers in Philadelphia. “It will be interesting to see if the work is worth the reimbursement.”