Reporter's Notebook: Sleep space attracts range of players

Friday, May 24, 2013

Despite dwindling reimbursement and documentation hassles for Medicare and some commercial payers, when it comes to the sleep market, it seems like everyone wants a piece of the pie, say providers.

Provider Lisa Feierstein was “shocked” recently to learn that the National Sleep Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving sleep health and safety, has launched, an online one-stop shop for CPAP machines, masks and accessories, as well as specialty products for insomnia and other sleep conditions.

“It seems so inappropriate,” said Feierstein, president and co-founder of Raleigh, N.C.-based Active Healthcare. “If their mission is to impart non-partial information about a disease state, then it doesn’t seem true to the mission to then profit on selling the equipment that’s used to treat the disease state.”

NSF declined to comment.

For provider Robyn Parrott, it’s dentists who, in recent weeks, have stepped up their efforts to attract sleep patients, she says.

“I am getting advertisements, coupons, newspapers—it’s crazy,” said Parrott, president of Detroit, Mich.-based Sleep Solutions. “I don’t know if they are being monitored. If the patient is positive for sleep apnea, are they just charging them for an oral appliance vs. trying them on the CPAP?”

Of course, what presents a hot market today can turn cold tomorrow, say providers.

“We are seeing the physicians and the sleep labs that got into CPAP now trying to get out,” said Wayne Sale, president of Health First in Richmond, Va. “Now, they are trying to sneak into home sleep testing. It’s an evolutionary process.”