Report: 12-fold jump in OSA diagnoses

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Monday, September 30, 2002

NORTHBROOK, Ill. - A report in the June issue of CHEST is associating a 12-fold increase in the diagnosis of sleep apnea with an increase in the number of accredited sleep labs and sleep publications in the past nine years.

In the report, "Increased Physician-Reported Sleep Apnea," CHEST used the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS) to determine whether there has been an increase in physician reporting of sleep apnea. It found that the diagnosis of sleep apnea in outpatients increased from 108,121 to 1.3 million from 1990 to 1998.

The report comes as no surprise to Ron Richard, v.p. of marketing for ResMed in Poway, Calif. He said those with pulses on the CPAP market say it's growing in excess of 20% per year. "That growth rate has been pretty steady, too, and should continue for the next five years or so," he said.

The report also found that nearly 80% of diagnoses were reported by three groups of physicians: PCPs (37%), pulmonolo-gists (24%) and otolaryngologists (18%). Diagnosed patients were predominately male (71%); white (89%); 40 to 49 years old (33%); and included a mean of 16% with cardiovascular disorders, 13% with pulmonary disorders and 6% with obesity. HME

As part of its report, CHEST pointed the increase in physician reporting of sleep apnea to a 50% increase in the number of publications regarding sleep. From 1990-1998, those publications increased from 202 to 344.

Richard said he, too, has noticed an increase in the number of sleep publications. He said ResMed keeps its own library of articles published on sleep apnea and that the company has been adding 10 to 15 articles to the library each month where it used to add five.

"Our library has at least doubled, if not tripled," Richard said.

Richard said reimbursement for devices like CPAPs is good, but he hopes reports like CHEST's might help get Medicare to recognize the service component of sleep. HME

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