Sleep apnea: Taming the 'big, hairy beast'

Thursday, August 26, 2010

WAUKESHA, Wis. - While other providers fret over Medicare rules and reimbursement, Sleep Apnea Solutions has quietly carved itself a niche creating sleep wellness programs for employers.

"We thought, 'Let's bring this directly to the employees and get them tested and treated where they work,'" said Rick Adamich, vice president. "This (home testing) technology is out there and we believe in it."

Sleep Apnea Solutions' primary customers include large trucking and manufacturing firms with a focus on safety and wellness.

Programs are tailored to the individual company, which can pick and choose from a suite of options like group or individual education or web presentation. All programs include screening questionnaires; instructions on using the testing device; scoring and interpretation of the test; and a 30-day autoPAP titration study.

"Educating employees about what sleep apnea is--that's really the key," said Adamich. "Sleep apnea is kind of a big, hairy beast for people that aren't in the know. We teach why it's important to get tested and treated."

Getting employees tested and treated can lower overall healthcare costs for employers, particularly when other health conditions like high blood pressure or Type 2 diabetes improve as a result of treatment, said Adamich.

Because home sleep testing is far less expensive than a full sleep study--usually several hundred dollars compared to several thousand--OSA sufferers are more likely to be diagnosed and treated, especially if they feel like their employer really wants to help them, said Adamich.

"We've found that fear of being watched in a lab and fear of PAP therapy in general are primary factors that prevent people from addressing OSA," he said. "With support from their employer, employees actually get excited about the prospect of being tested and treated for OSA."